One of the new (frighteningly more effective than their sillier ones from early on in the campaign) TV ads asks if the Wildrose “firewall” is really what you want. The answer, of course, is yes. Oddly enough though, when the ad discussed the problems they said it would “create adversaries when the oilsands need allies” and that the Wildrose dared to “replace the RCMP”. Which, of course, brings up a minor problem: the RCMP aren’t going anywhere, because Red Redford’s government extended their contract.
The “firewall” was a classic bit of Ralph Klein: big talk, no real action. When it came to conservative principles and actions, Ralph always needed to be talked into them. Wildrose strategist Tom Flanagan is the granddaddy of the firewall (with Ted Morton as one of the lieutenants: another sign of how the Red Redford government is quick to sell the talents of one of its own members under the bus), and one of the basic principles is doing everything already within the Government of Alberta’s constitutional powers to insulate it from bad decisions made in Ottawa. The replacement of the RCMP is no small part of that. Indeed, its one of the key elements.
Do you remember the name Brian Knight? You should. He’s the proud yeoman of Alberta who found himself being charged for gun related offenses. Specifically, he shot a man who was on his property. Unlike Trayvon Martin, this dude didn’t die. Unlike Zimmerman, it’s not even a question as to the circumstances. When Brian Knight woke up in the middle of the night, he saw the men who has been stealing from area farms. So he gathered a posse together and dealt with the problem. He even called the Bashaw RCMP and let them know when he’d caught the fucker (it wasn’t easy). The problem was that the poor innocent robber had been shot in the ass at a distance from a shotgun.
As Colby Cosh wrote at the time, perhaps in Alberta some cultural awareness for RCMP officers should be mandatory: he suggested the reading of John Locke. This spoke a bit to the problem, and the reason that the firewall encouraged replacing the RCMP with an Alberta-run police form similar to the OPP in Ontario: the RCMP, as is implied by that C in their name, are Canadian, not Albertan. They are beholden to the federal government. I remember one of the early Alberta Alliance general meetings where policy was being created: when the topic of criminal records checks for people wishing to run as MLA came up, there was a debate about whether they should just as a blank slate prohibit criminals from running in the party. Forgetting the long history of criminal-cum-legislator (Louis Riel comes immediately to everybody’s mind), the point that won the day is that a Liberal Government in Ottawa could easily decide who could be running for the Alberta Alliance, and that being in violation of some of the laws that a Sheila Copps would pass should be a badge of honour rather than an instant disqualification.
On that principle, creating an Alberta run police force would mean that the next time a Prime Minister Mulcair decided to nationalize the oil industry, or send government agents door to door confiscating anybody’s King James Edition bibles, or make it against the law to sell steak, the police force in operation in Alberta wouldn’t be enforcing that law unless it was agreeable to the government of Alberta. In British Columbia, the RCMP have been known to shoot a man in the back of the head in self-defense, and defend our borders from angry Polish guys with staplers. In Alberta, they've botched the McCann investigation -- and of course, were so useless in Bashaw at stopping property crimes Brian Knight had to take the law into his own hands.
Knowing that, Red Redford’s government extended the contract anyways. The RCMP will now be in operation in Alberta until 2036, and unless Wildrose wants to cancel their contract (highly unlikely), that decision has already been made. The long arm of the federal government is in operation in Alberta.
Progressives lining up to support Red Redford should probably ask themselves at this point whether or not they’re happy with her Party rejecting the idea of kicking Stephen Harper’s police force out of town. And then bragging about it. And insulting Albertans at the same time.
Okay, that last bit is standard policy for Red Redford’s government. It’s why on Monday she needs to be replaced.