BUDGET HISTORY: Klein-opoly: a game the whole province can play

By Michael Jensen

Liberal Doses, opinion

There were two notable items missing in Ralph Klein’s address to the citizens of Alberta. Every post-secondary student knows that Klein did not address the cuts to post-secondary education. Post-secondary students already obtained a promise of a review of the cuts from the premier. Klein’s address is symbolic of the Alberta political scene: no effective opposition is allowed in Alberta.

The only reply from Liberal leader Grant Mitchell came in the form of four commercials. Two of the commercials were broadcast both before and after the speech. Obviously, Mitchell would jump through hoops for more airtime. But Mitchell faced a sacked deck with the two CTV affiliates in Alberta, CFCN and CFRN.

In his term in office, Klein has used both stations three times to broadcast his lectures about the deficit with the average Albertan. Repeatedly, Klein has avoided the CBC to broadcast his message, even though the CBC would do it for free. The reason for Klein’s refusal of the CBC is that the CBC’s policy is to show a reply from the Leader of the Official Opposition. By buying airtime on the two CTV stations, Klein can lecture without any fear of a differing view being expressed.

Only a few people noticed this unfair advantage. Mitchell bought the four commercials this time to try to get the message across that there is an alternative. The commercials probably didn’t make much of an impression. It’s no wonder few Albertans know who Grant Mitchells is.

The other side needs to be presented. For far too long, the Alberta media have disregarded this rule.

Time and time again, there have been scandals rocking the provincial government. Such scandals range from the bailout of Gainers’ to the state-sponsored white elephants of Novatel and Magcam. Any other provincial government would crumble under the pressure of intense scrutiny. The problem is, not enough critical pressure is applied by the media to this government. It’s safe to assume that the media’s behavior is caused by generational habit more than anything else.

Because of the media’s failure to keep a check on the provincial government, Alberta voters turn into sheep. Since the opposition doesn’t get as much attention, Albertans continue to vote in landslide numbers for the governing party. The Provincial Conservatives have been in power since 1971.

A week before Klein’s address, U.S. President Bill Clinton gave his State of the Union Address. Clinton’s address was followed by a reply by Senator Bob Dole. The three American networks did not keep Dole off the air simply because he did not buy airtime. Similarly, CFRN and CFCN should show some backbone and not be bullied into showing Tory-paid infomercials.


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