Alright... so the blogosphere and the monkeys in the print media are going crazy over the perceived lack of representation that the major centres are getting in the new cabinet.
Brian Mason, Alberta's own political masochist, believes it's not right that the 2 centres that provide 2/3rds of the province's population get less than a quarter of the cabinet seats.
I agree... IF that were true, it wouldn't be right. I'll even go so far as to suggest that the major centres, as they are defined legally, ARE under-represented. But to be an NDP member, let alone the LEADER, requires questionable math skills at the best of times, so let's break this down a bit...
The number of people living WITHIN CITY LIMITS of Edmonton and Calgary account for 52% of the province's population. 52% is NOT two-thirds. That 52% of Albertans is represented by 4 ministers whose constituencies are within the limits of those 2 cities, 1 in Edmonton and 3 in Calgary. Mason is right, though, that 4 ministers out of 19 is NOT representative of the populations of the cities. They're just not as badly slighted as he'd like all of us to believe.
Now, let's give Brian the benefit of the doubt, and suggest that he was talking about the Greater Calgary and Greater Edmonton Areas, and just because I'm in a giving mood, let's even grant him the questionable math that leads us to conclude that 2/3rds of all Albertans live in those areas in and around the 2 major cities. If this is the case, then there are cabinet seats for THIRTEEN MLA's who come from ridings an hour or less from one of the 2 major centres. So, if we accept at face value that 2/3rds (66%) of the population is in the GCA and GEA, we look and conclude that 13/19ths (68%) of the ministers come from either the cities or areas close enough to the cities to be counted in Mason's GCA and GEA. THAT, folks, is OVER-representation. The difference is, instead of MLA's representing high-rise condos, you've got MLA's representing the folks on the acreages near Cochrane and Strathmore. The folks who live less than an hour from the city, WORK in the city, and sleep (and vote) outside city limits. If you're going to count them in your 2/3rds, you have to count their MLA as a City-area MLA.
So, how could Ed have avoided this? What WAS he thinking?
The Alberta Alliance is making gains, and putting Ted Morton in SRD isn't going to slow them down any. They're not going to win city ridings any time soon, kids... the Alliance has their sights set on Rural Alberta. They've got one seat in the South already, and will likely pick up some more in the South... but not in any of the 4 "Calgary Area Rural" ridings that have ministers in them. They'll probably be severely slowed down in the North, just by virtue of Ed's win. So, by appointing the ministers he has, Ed has limited potential Alliance gains to 2 or 3 Southern Alberta Rural ridings.
That said, the cities (led by their pied pipers in the media) are upset over their "offensive" under-representation, despite my evidence above that they have, in fact, as much say as they should. Upset enough to vote Liberal? Maybe... Edmonton has 3 Tory seats, and one of those is a popular Red Tory and Minister (Dave Hancock), so he's not going anywhere... The other 2 Tories are going to be slaves to the war waging between Edmontonian discontent over the cabinet and the reality that a "Northern Guy" now leads the Tories. At worst, the PC's lose their 2 non-cabinet seats to the Liberals in Edmonton. At best, the maintain their 3-seat beach-head, or improve their fortunes slightly (1 or 2 seat gain) through Dave and Ed's force of will and Northern roots alone.
Calgary may lose a seat or 2 in the weaker North and downtown core to the Liberals over this perceived slight by the PC's and Ed, but the reality is that the Liberals would need to run the PERFECT campaign, and Ed would have to come out in a televised interview and say, point blank, "there aren't more Calgarians in Cabinet because we hate those bastards" for the Liberals to take more than half of Calgary.
So, in actuality, Ed may have cut off his opponents at the pass with this cabinet... although the cities are getting worked up into a self-righteous foaming rage over this, the reality is that the only things Ed needs to worry about are losing a few seats in the South to the Alliance, which may have happened no matter WHO got put into cabinet, losing a couple seats in the Liberal/NDP stronghold of Edmonton, and losing 5, at the VERY most, in Calgary.
Stelmach needs to lose over TWENTY seats to lose his majority. At most, he's going to lose 10 over this cabinet. That's a victory, however small and considering he needed to reward his supporters, which is just a fact of political life.
But some people are still going to feel under-represented in the Cabinet, not matter WHAT happens. Not enough women. Not enough minorities. How about THIS statistic? Only 9.71% of Albertans identified themselves as being of Ukrainian descent, yet ONE HUNDRED percent of the Premier is Ukrainian. SCANDAL!
Much ado abou nothing... geographically, this cabinet makes sense. Let's see if they can do their jobs, let's see what happens in the next election, THEN pass judgement on Ed's wisdom.
What I am taking away from many of the comments circulated in the media is that there is one last bastion of allowable discrimination - that of rural versus urban. You cannot discriminate or stereotype by gender, race, sexual orientation, etc. but it is perfectly fine to do so against the basis of where in the province a person lives or what his/her occupation is. If you are a farmer who lives outside of Edmonton or Calgary, well you must be perfectly incapable of holding any ministry other than agriculture. Ridiculous.
The moaning about lack of representation of women and visible minorities is silly. If we were truly a colour and gender-blind society, it would not matter the person's particulars, only if they could do the job. Are people really suggesting (albiet implicitly) that we should select cabinet by quota? Should Gary Mar be in cabinet because he is the only person of Chinese descent? Or Mike Cardinal because he is the only status Indian? It would be comical, if it were not so frighteningly stupid.
I agree. Suggesting someone should have a cabinet position because she is a woman (or other) is sexist - it's tantamount to saying she only had that position in the first place because she is a woman.
It's an argument that never fails to infuriate me (especially as it is usually made by well meaning people who just aren't thinking).
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