Friday, 25 September 2015


Political Notes from a Community League BBQ

Last Saturday was one of those days meant to remind you that the immediate alternative to a waning summer is equally glorious. The rain we needed in May, June, July and August fell after Labour Day. The river valley was primped for its postcard portrait, green water, and green foliage accented with bursts of orange, burgundy and gold shining under a refracted crystal blue sky. Saturday was such a fine, fine day and so much so that a local might be tempted to lie to a guileless visitor: ‘Autumn in Edmonton? Oh, it’s always like this, right through to the end of November. Really. And that big, honking formation of Canada geese overhead? They’re not going anywhere. Honest.’

In the morning Ann and I sipped our coffee listening to ‘Dead Ends and Detours,’ a Grateful Dead themed show on CKUA while perusing our newspapers. Together we nailed the Saturday New York Times crossword. High fives! We then moved into the yard; this is the time of year when Ann starts cutting back, transplanting and envisioning next spring’s and summer’s blooms. I raked up the squirrel-dropped, strange and spiky fruit of our Ohio buckeye. I next tried to clean up the rotting crabapples by the back gate and realized that the few wasps we’ve encountered this year have been undersized and unaggressive.

The social event of the season was held that evening, our annual community league membership renewal barbecue. Although outdoor ice is no longer winter’s certainty, we happily pay out for the skate tags anyway. We strolled over to the nearby arts park beside the hall, playground and rink. The neighbourhood’s once-dying lawns had sprouted orange New Democratic Party election signs. Two-term federal incumbent Linda Duncan is going for the threepeat. I like Linda because she is visible and present in our riding, nor does she say or Tweet anything stupid.

The celebrity at our barbecue was Lori Sigurdson, elected last May to represent us in the Legislative Assembly of Alberta. A former social worker, Lori now holds two ministerial portfolios: Innovation and Advanced Education, and Jobs, Skills, Training and Labour (I didn’t name the cabinet posts, folks). She had embraced the spirit of the event and sported an orange NDP chef’s apron. We were introduced to Lori by a neighbourhood friend, a respected community and political activist. The conversation went much like this:

Friend: Lori, this is Ann, and Geoff, longtime friends of mine.

Ann: Hi, Lori, how do you do? Congratulations on winning your seat.

Me: Hi, yes, we displayed one of your lawn signs.

Lori: (Smile.)

Me: Yeah, so then I kept getting e-mails from Rachel (Alberta NDP Premier Notley) asking for money.

Lori: Um, fundraising…

Me: Linda seems to be winning the federal sign war. Who’s the Liberal again?

Friend: Oh yes, Eleanor somebody…

Me: Yeah, Eleanor. Last summer when Justin’s (federal Liberal leader Trudeau) book Common Ground came out, a Liberal canvasser came to our door handing out bookmarks from Eleanor. No last name, just a Twitter account and a web site. Does she think she’s Elvis or Mick or Keith?

Lori: (Uncomfortable smile.)

Me: So I told the Liberal door knocker my vote costs the traditional Quebec price of $5 and a mickey of gin. Whoosh! Went right over his head.

Lori: (Really uncomfortable and awkward smile.)

Friend: Geoff, have you had a hamburger yet?

Ann: Well, nice to have met you, Lori.

Lori: (Utterly frozen, really, really uncomfortable and awkward smile.)

Me: Actually, we were just getting ready to go.

Lori: (Wide, relieved smile.)

Friend: Lori, there are some other people over here I’d like you to meet.

Lori: (Wider, much relieved smile.)

Alberta’s newly hatched NDP government has spent the summer legislative break coping with drought, wildfires and four decades’ worth of shredded Conservative documents. And so, it’s far too soon to rate and judge inexperience even though the electorate seems to have recovered from our ‘What have we done!?’ moment. As we made our way home through the back lanes Ann noted that Lori didn’t seem to have much to say. Ann thought a ‘thank you’ for the lawn sign would have been nice, a minimum to suffice. Our rookie MLA hasn’t quite got her stump patter down pat yet. That may or may never come, but at least Lori’s not a Tory and she may yet have some forward thinking legislation planned for the fall session.

No comments:

Post a Comment