Weird shit happens in Alberta

After being an unenthusiastic Albertan my whole life, over a year ago I made a big move to Toronto. Moving allowed me to gain a whole new perspective about my home province, and, for the most part, Alberta comes out on top. The people there are better (or at least they are in my little Edmonton hipster-bubble), the economy is superior (but I don’t want to hear about it anymore), and the mall is bigger (yep–I ran out of stuff). But apart from these admittedly important things, lots of weird shit goes on in Alberta, and I find myself at a loss to explain why. I’ve settled on a combination of extremely cold air,  hazardous oil fumes, and an ill-healed emotional scar left by Pierre Trudeau. (Just write Alberta off now, Justin!) Whatever the reason, these are some of the things that make Alberta special in a bad way.

image: Ron

Alberta has unruly libertarians!

Congrats, Alberta, we made The Economist for something other that oil! This week’s The Economist has an article about Alberta’s own “Freemen,” a group of winners who have declared themselves free of any governmental obligations, and this lack of obligation seems to extend to fellow citizens as well. One freeman, Andreas Pirelli, seized a Calgary woman’s home and declared it his embassy, while more were found squatting in cabins near Grande Prairie.

So to sum it up, when Americans have these attitudes, they become tea party Republicans. When Canadians start hating government, they go to Alberta (though plenty are rurally born and bred) and do idiotic things like sue the Justice Minister for $1,000 quadrillion. Many of them call themselves Freemen-on-the-land, but I’d prefer to call them Douchebags-on-the-loose.

Alberta has Mennonites with Mexican drug cartel connections!

Here are some Albertans who know how to successfully build a pipeline. In September it was discovered that a community of Mennonites in Grassy Lake, Alberta, had established a cocaine smuggling pipeline. The US Drug Enforcement Administration confiscated thirty kilos of cocaine on its way to small town Alberta, and intercepted another 11,000 pounds of it farther south. Apparently they were smuggling it in tractors. How very agrarian of them.

This may seem random, but the Mennonites living in northern Mexico, which just happens to be Mexico’s drug-trafficking hub, lived in Manitoba before emigrating in the 1920s. The Canadian and Mexican Mennonite communities have since maintained close ties, and when Mexican Mennonites fell on hard times in recent years, they seem to have forged close ties with the Juarez Cartel too.

All I could think when I heard this news was Fort McMurray. My second thought was Mennonites are to blame for Deezy tha Don. Now there’s a sentence I never thought I’d write!

image: someone’s phone

Wild Politicians!

While this didn’t technically happen in Alberta, Mike Allen, member of the governing Progressive Conservative caucus, was arrested in July on charges of solicitation of a prostitute in a public place while on business in Minnesota. I know I just made this joke about Arkansas, but, really, what else is there to do in Minnesota? In any event it’s not every day that a politician is arrested for solicitation of a prostitute (more accurately, two prostitutes) while representing his constituency on official business.

Then there’s resident nutbar Rob Anders, who has the distinction of being the only MP to vote against making Nelson Mandela an honorary Canadian citizen. His reason was that Mandela is a communist and terrorist. That’s a pretty good reason, actually.

Wild Pheasants!

The Edmonton Journal reports that this week, 16,000 pheasants will be released into Alberta. Cool! Why? It’s pheasant huntin’ season. So thousands of pheasants are bred by weirdos so they can be shot in the wild by aforementioned weirdos?

Wait–I think my dad was somehow involved in this at some point. I vaguely recall having been forced to eat pheasant for Sunday dinner…that’s not a pleasant memory.

Experts affirm that this is a vital part of Alberta’s culture and tradition. I affirm that this is a great way to reinforce Alberta stereotypes. Because even over-employed, gun-toting populaces need their own unique version of the Hunger Games! Sorry to rag on Alberta’s culture, but how incredibly lame. They should probably release a few extra this year since the Freemen are likely getting hungry out there…

image: Calgary Herald


Alberta’s 2012 provincial election will surely go down in history as one of the more bizarre events of Alberta politics. Perhaps I say this because I was personally involved in one of the campaigns, but this election had more plot twists than a Mexican soap opera (which typically recycles the same three). How delightful that Albertans almost elected a little party called Wildrose to a majority government. Its libertarian leader, Danielle Smith, is skeptical of the science behind climate change, calling it inconclusive and electing instead to do nothing until more is known of this elusive phenomenon. Wildrose may have prevailed if not for the asinine comments of two of its candidates. One warned that gay people would “suffer the rest of eternity in the lake of fire,” while another commented that he was a good candidate because he was white and could therefore speak for all people. Because that’s always worked so well, historically.

There is no doubt–strange things happen in Alberta, and strange things are in Alberta. Where else can you find a dinosaur park with real live mechanical dinosaurs? And unlimited broadband? Yep–those racist, pheasant-hunting libertarians sure do lead wacky, cocaine-fuelled lives. It’s enough to make me miss Alberta ever so slightly.


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