Original Published April 12, 2022

Commentary by Jeff Burgar

Sometimes, a news clip piled in my office surfaces. Here is one about the big air base, 4 Wing, near the eastern edge of Alberta, at Cold Lake.

An engineering test facility there would be moving to some place down east. Quebec, of course. The story actually started in 2016. This clip was from 2018. The MLA there says it took a year for the federal government to even answer his letters. Then the feds said some of the 150 or so jobs involved would be shuffled around the base. Plus some of the new fighter jets would be stationed there. You know, the jets first ordered in 2010, and still haven’t arrived. So it was really “exciting times.” Yawn.

Crumbling infrastructure? Do consider our Canadian Armed Forces. If you giggle over stories of equipment in the Russian army, you should roll on the floor over our own military. Canada has sent equipment to Ukraine. Most was ready for scrap it was so old. But still a bit better than the wooden rifles farmers, lawyers, taxi drivers, shop keepers and women were being trained on a few weeks ago. The few decent items the CAF has in stock are held pretty well under lock and key. They worry if they send good stuff to Ukraine, lame politicians won’t let them buy replacements.

Meanwhile, other big news in Alberta, going on decades, is doctor shortages, ambulances, and closing of hospital emergency services right across the province. It’s sort of like people we trust to make cases about such issues are missing in action. Constantly. Too often it seems these people, at least in Alberta, never really get anything changed. But they are always around, year after year after year. Some place in Edmonton there must be a backroom where the real decision makers cackle and rub their hands. They know full well all those “complainers” will never give up their little bit of influence and admit the whole system should be torn down and rebuilt from the ground up. Without them, of course.

There is a deep problem here. Back about 250 years ago, framers of the American system of government knew what might happen. About 100 years later, so did the so-called fathers of Canadian Confederation. In both cases, faced with managing a vast land, it was understood the voices of far away peoples in remote areas needed to be heard. The answer in America was a strong senate. In Canada, it ended being a case of neutering the senate so power would always stay in Central Canada.

I’m sure the idea of a provincial senate, just for Albertans, not based on population centres but based on regions and geography, would be an easy sell in rural Alberta. We might not be able to keep federal technical services such as offered at Cold Lake. But we sure as heck could do a better job looking after health needs of rural Albertans than what we are doing these days.

This item reprinted with permission from South Peace News, High Prairie, Alberta