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When the smoke clears

As the province burns, politicians try to ignite support with fire-sale issues. Will Albertans get burned again?


The two big topics of the week continue to be smoke and politics ... or as we know it best, just politics.

While much of northern Alberta is blanketed under a layer of smoke brought on by forest fires raging across Alberta, the misty swirls of political battles and campaign rhetoric also continue to obscure the horizon. 

Once the smoke clears, everything will be better. The province will no longer be caught in the grip of the unrelenting flare-ups and the damage left in the wake of the firestorm.  Maybe a few forest fires will be extinguished too.  That's right, the heat of the actual flames is almost secondary to the steady burns thrown by our elected leaders to their opponents, fanning the flames on all issues to win political seats. 

As quickly as new forest fires ignite, threatening livelihoods and keeping all Albertans on an uncertain edge, provincial politicians are hatching new plans and firing new accusations at each other, confusing and dividing residents with a political smoke-show. With provincial Election Day fast approaching, there are daily news events and email blasts where either the NDP or the UCP are telling us about their plan that will make everything better. They do this while fire-bombing opponents with taunts, dares and ridicule. Both sides, it seems, in this two-party provincial race have the answers to our healthcare issues, doctor shortages, school class size-issues, aging infrastructure, forest fire prevention ... and of course, the replacement of the Saddle Dome. 

Here's a burning question: Why didn't they have the answers before?

During their times in power, why didn't they fire-up those remedies and blaze a trail of progress? 

When the smoke clears, we'll see again that we've been here before — both in the political world, and in the real one that truly matters.

Wildfires — the vast majority made by the folly of humans — have once again scorched the earth and threatened our communities.  Election promises, all too often swallowed up by a similar folly of humans — are once again taking us down the same scorched path. Do we learn?  By the look of that hazy horizon (whether the political landscape or the one barely visible outside our family homes)  it doesn't seem like we do.  It looks more like we're about to get burned again.

Rob McKinley

About the Author: Rob McKinley

Rob has been in the media, marketing and promotion business for 30 years, working in the public sector, as well as media outlets in major metropolitan markets, smaller rural communities and Indigenous-focused settings.
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