Calgary Just to get the facts straight, one of the ACORN Canada board members from Halifax quipped, “The Canadian province of Alberta has NOT asked to be admitted to the United States as the 51st state, but if they did, the rest of us would let them go!” There’s a story here for sure and Calgary, where ACORN has opened its newest office in Canada, is part of it. Reading the news, it actually seems the recently re-elected Alberta premier might rather be annexed to Ron DeSantis’ Florida, since it’s really more his program she’s trying to copy, but DeSantis doesn’t have that level of what he calls “100% executive authority” to accept them, which is a totally scary concept.
Don’t get me wrong. For a child of the West, Alberta feels like home. This is the northern edge of the Rockies with national parks that rival Montana’s Glacier and Colorado’s Rocky Mountain. I can still remember the beauty of Banff, as we drove up from Billings in my youth, and a dinner on the road that night of pork chops, applesauce, and sweet potatoes that I swear I can still taste in my memory. This is oil and gas country as well, and they are committed to the industry until the last hole runs dry. My uncle Barton Wade used to run rigs with his Ratliff drilling company here wildcatting until the prices collapsed, as they sometimes do. Calgary and Edmonton are to Alberta as Denver and Salt Lake City are to the US west, big cities sprawling out for miles. Canada is the far north in North America so even though the temperatures were in the 50s in the morning now and the high 70’s and low 80s at their hottest, some of the Canadian leaders worried about heat stroke, as I grabbed my jacket before going out with some of the leaders to see the new office.
While the politics in Alberta are as culture-driven as Florida, otherwise they are pretty much just Wyoming. The premier is so far right that there was some speculation in the press that the opposition party, the NDP, might rally to win in the province. The premier had been a big booster of the truckers’ blockade in Ottawa over Covid shutdowns and whatever ailed them. She’s a climate denier and outspoken in her embrace of all the main cultural triggers of the right. The voters did give her a bit of a beating in the recent election by hammering her party’s margin in the provincial parliament, but she was left standing, unbowed and unbeaten.
ACORN in Calgary has been fighting for rent control as tenants are increasingly squeezed, and has done so to great local press attention. We’ve found friends and allies and a growing membership, making this an exciting place for ACORN Canada’s annual general meeting. We just have to keep pushing here and hope that the provincial politics don’t become so toxic that they poison the opportunity for our members to win their critical local campaigns.