27 November 2008

Giddyup, Alberta!

Oh my. Here in the pollution province we have enough trouble convincing the "others" that we are a modern society with a modicum of sophistication and now we have our elected representatives supporting a measure that would brand us as a bunch of rubes. On Monday, Liberal leader Kevin Taft's motion to make rodeo the official provincial sport was passed by the legislature. "Rodeo is so much more than an athletic event or tourist attraction. Rodeo reminds us of our western heritage," exulted Mr. Taft. Debra Probert, executive director of the Vancouver Humane Society, is less rapturous and more analytical about rodeo: "They're exploiting the reaction of the animal to pain, fear and stress. They harass them, they kick them, they goad them ... they harass them into acting like wild animals." They are both right, of course. Rodeo does remind us of our western heritage, just not the more respectable parts.

What got into the Liberal leader is puzzling. He will soon be stepping down, so maybe this was his attempt at leaving a legacy. Considering the Liberals have been reduced to a rump in the legislature, he has precious little else to leave.

Although both Conservative and Liberal legislators voted for the motion, the more sensible comments came from the Conservatives. Jonathan Denis, PC MLA for Calgary-Egmont, suggested, "If we are to adopt an official sport, we should at least adopt a sport that most Albertans participate in." Meanwhile, Edmonton MLA Thomas Lukaszuk wondered if there weren't more important issues to be spending their time on. One could certainly think of a few. Culture Minister Lindsay Blackett opined that a province doesn't need a provincial sport. Mr. Blackett might have added that imposing a rural "sport" on an overwhelmingly urban population doesn't even make sense.

Fortunately, the motion isn't binding on the government, so hopefully they'll ignore it. If not, they will in the not too distant future be proclaiming that Albertans preferred outdoor activity is tormenting animals. Please don't do it, Premier Stelmach. Ducks dying in our tailings ponds was more than enough. Flaunting animal misery would put us beyond the pale.

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