Albertans woke up to some disturbing news on Sunday morning: other Canadians don’t really like us. They think we’re, smug, condescending and intolerant. This is according to a poll conducted in 2008, and released in 2009 that went unpublished until very recently.
It found 40 per cent of non-Albertan respondents felt Albertans didn’t care much about the rest of Canada. More than a quarter described Albertans as greedy and another quarter found them arrogant. A total of 42 per cent felt the statements Alberta “cares about the environment” and “is working to ease environmental impacts” carried little, if any, truth. While the words “confident,” “bold,” “generous,” and “prosperous” were associated with Albertans, so were “smug,” “condescending,” “uncaring” and “narrow.”
The article goes on to say that, yeah, actually, Albertans feel kinda like they’re perceived that way by the rest of Canada. And some people even in Alberta believe we actually are that way.
I wasn’t entirely surprised by this news. Nor was I terribly bothered about. When I realized how I was behaving, it occurred to me I was being smug. So I stopped that immediately (though not before I looked “smug” up, just to be sure I understood it, and the redneck in me wasn’t coming out).
As for condescending and intolerant… Honestly, is anyone shocked by this? We’re talking about Alberta, which as recently as the year 2000 amended its Marriage Act to make sure only members of the opposite sex could get married — and only really changing that in 2005 when the federal government essentially forced the province to change.
Intolerant? Yeah, I can see where that might come from.
And condescending? Hell yes, I can see that. Again, consider how the province has handled the environmental file: basically constantly insisting that everything’s fine and we can handle it, when evidence to the contrary keeps being placed in front of everyone.
But both of these examples are about the provincial government, not all the people of Alberta. And while you could argue that the government is a reflection of the people in a lot of ways, I would suggest that the schism caused by Bill 44 is a small (and admittedly anecdotal) example of the fact that the government isn’t always showing the Alberta we’d like them to — I know people who left the PC party as a result of this event as well as other issues.
Still, is this new/old report something we should be worried about? I think it probably is, a little. It means that each of us as individuals needs to do a better job of showing the rest of Canada that we aren’t just a bunch of slack-jawed, oilsands-exploiting, douchebaggy monsters. As mentioned in the article (though with poor examples provided), there’s much more to the people here than smug condescension and intolerance. But we can’t just state that, provide a few examples, and pat ourselves on the back (smugly!).
We need to prove it — to ourselves and the rest of Canada — by showing that we care deeply about our environment, that success and prosperity for Alberta means the same for the rest of Canada, and that we really don’t need to hang fake bull testicles from the hitches of our pick-up trucks.
Photo by Danny McL on Flickr