Ontario Elects Doug Ford; Alberta Unleashes the Valkyries

Valkyrie: from Norse mythology, meaning “chooser of the slain”;  female figures who choose who will die in battle and who will live.   

Ms Soapbox has a message for all the politicians who “know” what their female constituents need but can’t be bothered to ask them; who condescendingly brush aside social issues because politics is only about the economy, and who in their heart of hearts believe politics would be a whole lot easier if women would stop bugging them about access to abortion and the cost of child care and just let the men get on with it.

Guess what.  The women have had it up to here.

The Doug Ford factor  

The election of Doug Ford, surely the stupidest conservative leadership candidate to emerge in a very long time, was the last straw.




Sure, Alberta’s UCP consider Ford’s election as proof that the populist playbook guarantees success (Jason Kenney is lauding Ford’s election as “a great day for Albertans”) and yes, the UCP will unleash a tsunami of empty slogans (Alberta Advantage, rah, rah), dog whistles, and failed economic ideologies, topped with a dose of victimhood every day until election day but it won’t be enough.

Here’s why.

The women are engaged    

Ms Soapbox participated in four women-only political events over the last two weeks.  They were hosted by women who are horrified at the prospect of a UCP government in 2019.  Here’s what she’s learned:

  • Politicians who say politics is just about the economy really mean there’s no room for that “what-do-women-want-crap” in their party.
  • Politicians who say there’s no such thing as women’s issues haven’t the foggiest clue about the challenges Alberta women face 24/7.
  • Politicians, wannabe politicians and backroom players who shred party institutions in their quest for power don’t deserve anyone’s support.
  • Politicians who boast about holding the government to account while boycotting the debate on Bill 9 (the abortion clinic bubble zone bill) because it’s “divisive” are widely recognized as hypocrites pandering to their evangelical, pro-life base.
  • Vitriolic and veiled attacks on female politicians (of any stripe) say more about the attacker than the woman being attacked.
  • Politicians who label “feminism” an “f-word” are oblivious to the fact feminists come from all parts of the political spectrum.
  • Politicians who have a field day when a female politician stumbles are hypocrites if they continue to sing the praises of Doug Ford.

We could go on, but you get the drift.

Politicians who hold such beliefs are viewed with contempt and concern given they’ve been around for decades and are apparently unaware of the feminist waves which started in the 1830s with the fight for the right to vote, returned in the 1960s with a focus on the workplace, sexuality and reproductive rights, and morphed in the 2000s into a broad demand for political, social and sexual equality.

The Valkyries

Alberta is grappling with complex challenges. It is transitioning from a resource-based economy to one that’s more sustainable.  It’s trying to address the lingering effects of underspending in health, education and infrastructure while continuing to meet the demands caused by demographic changes in the population.

Populist politicians offer simplistic solutions to these problems:  inane slogans and quick-fix policies like returning to the flat tax and cutting “government waste” juiced up with dog-whistle appeals to cause Albertans to lose focus.

The women recognize that populist politicians pandering to their right-wing base will roll back the advances the NDP government has made on social issues like protecting gay kids in schools, protecting women exercising their abortion rights, improving the delivery of education and healthcare, increasing access to affordable child care and heightening awareness of climate change so we can transition to a more sustainable economy.

And they’re fighting back. 

They’re joining constituency associations, identifying potential candidates and encouraging women to run for office.  They’re busy fund-raising and volunteering for their  MLAs.  They’re speaking up and amplifying their voices on social media and in the main stream press (a slew of letters, even if they’re not published, will focus an editor’s mind).

They’ve become more visible.  They’re marching in festival parades to show support for the political party that supports them.  They’re telling their friends Rachel is doing a good job.  They’re reaching out to their networks and encouraging their friends to get engaged.

They’re brave.  They’re doing everything they can to ensure the next government won’t hurt their children, their partners, their parents or themselves.

They’re Valkyries soaring over the battlefield looking for political leaders who know that women’s issues are everyone’s issues.

[And for those of you looking for a little inspiration, here’s Wagner’s Ride of the Valkyries]

This entry was posted in Economy, Feminism, Politics and Government and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

36 Responses to Ontario Elects Doug Ford; Alberta Unleashes the Valkyries

  1. Brendon Bedeau says:

    Great post. Having grown up in Ontario during the Ray-Days, I can only say that the NDP never really had a chance out east. Too many people still have memories what they did to the province. That being said, Rachel Notley and the NDP in Alberta have shown that they are Province before Party and I believe will continue to be the Party that is inclusive and representative of all Albertans. As various groups band together to stop Jason Kenny, we can only ask, is it enough?

    • Douglas says:

      I find it infuriating to hear the aged whine of Rae Days as some kind of long forgotten mythology that only Alzeheimers might dissapate. In tight times, a budget saving strategy of cutting work hours over a large number of workers without cutting jobs, wasn’t such a bad idea. Peter Drucker advocated a variation to cope with economic downturn. This R-D whinge stuff is the fodder of Kenney’s hack and slash epistle against Rachel’s strategy of waiting out the storm through long term financing and preserving your human capital.

      • Douglas, your comment reminded me of how Calgary oil companies coped with the economic upturn. They offered their employees “golden Fridays” (every second or third Friday off with pay) which became a problem for companies that didn’t offer golden Fridays because they couldn’t recruit new employees. Things got messy in the downturn when companies had to take them away. Employees forgot that these perks were available only because of the boom and weren’t the norm.

    • sapeterson says:

      Bob Rae was elected when the province had a huge deficit and when the country was heading into a terrible depression (the world was too). The NWT has had Donnie days for many years which is employees taking a week off without pay for the good of the budget.

  2. Brendon, I agree with everything you’ve said. The challenge for the NDP will be vote splitting. As far as I’m concerned this is a race between Notley and Kenney, people who think they’ll slip up the middle and form government or even hold the balance of power like the Greens in BC are deluding themselves. I’ve run into a few people who are beginning to see this, but we’ll need to find a lot more in order to avoid a UCP government in 2019. Shudder!

    • boltonholder says:

      I think vote splitting will actually benefit the NDP in Alberta. Ontario had one viable right wing party and two left. The UCP may have united the PCs and WR, but many of the progressives have fled to the Alberta party. There are still two right wing parties. The liberals aren’t really a factor so I cannot see them impacting the left and centrist vote.

  3. Survivor says:

    Unfortunately a Donald Trump gets elected even after boasting about numerous sexual assaults and a Doug Ford gets elected with vague promises and platitudes. Not long ago in a shop in rural Alberta I saw a cartoon of a pitchfork in the back of a woman – obviously Rachel Notley – with a farmer behind commenting, “just another farming accident” Remember the Brooks golf tournament with posters of Rachel Notley set up for golfers to hit? And the dismissive comments that followed when this was publicized? I hope the NDP can win another election, as these are the attitudes and societal trends that need addressing for a better future for all of us.

    • Well said Survivor. There’s research out there that says threats of violence against women is never “just a joke”. They’re demeaning and dangerous. This is especially true in Notley’s case. She’s had more vicious threats than any previous premier. What’s wrong with these people? Are they so inarticulate that all they can utter is death threats?

  4. J.E. Molnar says:

    Excellent piece today Ms Soapbox!! Women will play a strong role in the next election, both as candidates for their respective parties and as advocates for social issues that make Alberta a safe and nurturing home for the disadvantaged, the marginalized and the poor. This is no longer your grandfather’s Alberta.

    In addition, the 2019 election will be a colossal contrast from past elections. A new election finance law means donations from corporate and union donors will no longer be allowed — a practice that heavily favoured conservatives. Third party advertising faces stricter laws, enforcement and financial limits this time around, and a new Election Commissioner will be in place to keep on eye on any untoward or unscrupulous activity. Additional polling stations, relaxed residency requirements and extended “advance polling” days will likely ensure a larger and much more representative vote than in past years — no voter suppression here folks. A sizeable financial war chest for the New Democrats will certainly add political punch to their marketing campaign. Combined with the NDP’s steady-as-she-goes, no bozo-eruption management of the province’s affairs and Rachel Notley’s adept oratorical skills, the chances of re-election greatly improve for Alberta New Democrats, despite what Jason Kenney portends on a daily basis these days following the Doug Ford election in Ontario. Kenney and the UCP need to stop celebrating on the 50-yard line — it’s becoming so puerile.

    • Excellent points J.E. While there are some similarities between the populists Ford and Kenney, the political environment they find themselves in is quite different. For one thing, Ford was up against Wynne, the Liberals had been in power since 2003 and the people were ready for a change. Secondly, say what you will about Ford, most people found him more likable than Wynne, the same can’t be said for Kenney who consistently polls lower than Notley when it comes to leadership. There’s something so off-putting about the man…

  5. Brent McFadyen says:

    The NDP and Alberta Liberal Party have an opportunity with the election of Doug Ford. They have a prime example of what will happen in Alberta mirrored in Ontario if we elect Jason Kenny. It is up to us that care about the welfare of our province to shout from the roof tops every-time the ” Ford Nation” institute “bone head” policies. We must do a better job of convincing the voter that lower taxes is not the only issue. The Right Wing ideology is the least government is the best government and less regulation the better. Remember Walkerton where they killed people because of their cutbacks to water treatment People died for the “right wing” ideology of less regulation. We must not forgot the six that died and two thousand sick persons. How quickly we forget the “Tory” sins of the past.

    • Brent while I agree with your comment, I’m not sure Alberta’s version of the “Ford Nation” is open to reason. Marshall McLuhan said “Politics will eventually be replaced by imagery. The politician will be only too happy to abdicate in favour of his image, because the image will be much more powerful than he could ever be.” I’m beginning to wonder whether one of the images Notley might use is the cool kid (her) versus the insecure bully (him). It might resonate with young voters and tip the balance in her favour. Just a thought. 😉

      • Brent McFadyen says:

        I like that quote from Marshall McLuhan. It is helping me understand the dynamics of politics these days. I have trouble with the fact that the electorate will vote for a Trump or a Doug Ford to their determent.

      • I agree Brent. Alberta women should be particularly concerned about what a Kenney government will do to undermine their access to healthcare, $25/Day daycare etc.

  6. Good perspective amiga; once again, gracias. I think we need to start weaving good stories leading to the May 2019 provincial election. We also need to find the right and persuasive storytellers (and) from a rainbow of communities and sectors to tell them. Our creativity and imagination in terms of the tools to do so will be tested. Of course, we will (also) need a well-developed platform with an essential theme about people, economic development and creative business opportunities – just thinking out loud. Abrazos | LCA

    • Brent McFadyen says:

      We must work very hard or the Tory steam roller will flatten us once again. We must frame the message according to George Lakoff’s teachings.

    • Leo, I agree with you, especially your point about the importance of good storytelling and good storytellers. We need to encourage people with stature in the community to voice their support for Notley and the NDP. I’ve met some oil executives, financial analysts, and leaders in the non-profit sector who aren’t afraid to say Notley is doing a good job. Their comments have a real impact because they’re respected in the community.

      • Brent McFadyen says:

        I have not read enough to know for sure , but is not Alberta doing well in terms of the other provinces. I think we have one of the strongest s economies. That fact seems to be ignored by a lot of people especially the “trolls”.

  7. GoinFawr says:

    Well, at least Ontarioians can now rest safely with Mr.Ford, since Patrick Brown was railroaded by metoo, amirite?

    • GoinFawr, Ontario’s problem doesn’t stem from Ford replacing Brown as PC leader but from Ford being elected PC leader when there were not one but two more worthy female leadership candidates available. Christine Elliot was eminently qualified to lead the party after serving as an MPP for 9 years. If the PCs wanted a neophyte they could have chosen investment banker Caroline Mulroney. Instead they went with Ford. Bizarre.

  8. jerrymacgp says:

    If politics is only about the economy, how about we simply repeal all laws that do not directly regulate or affect the economy, like the Criminal Code (just think how much money we could save on police, the courts and prisons), municipal zoning bylaws, and provincial gambling and liquor laws.

    I’m kidding, of course. But my brief display of silliness conceals an important truth: politics and governing are about how our society functions and how we all live together, and must go far beyond just the almighty dollar. If we allow a politician to tell us that the only policy area that matters is about the economy, we deserve what we get: a kleptocracy.

  9. Jerry, I couldn’t have said it better myself! It looks like Kenney is desperately trying to “expand” his appeal as a candidate. First he borrows a page from Doug Ford and says he wants to reduce the price of beer, then he issues a tweet saying: “Stay tuned for our platform. One of the themes of our platform will be pushing back against the excesses of the nanny state and the War on Fun.”
    War on fun? Notley was dancing, yes dancing, at Edmonton Pride while Kenney was giving peevish interviews complaining about who was or was not allowed to be in the parade.
    If the 2019 election hinges on which party has the most “fun”, bring it on! 🙂 🙂 🙂

  10. Permission to share your blogs on FB and get the pot stirred a bit? 😁

    • Absolutely! Be my guest 😄

      • Dwayne says:

        Susan: This was brought up before, but I agree with you on not setting up a YouTube channel. What is on there is repulsive. The Rebel type crowd would make it a miserable experience. Here the decorum is decent, for the most part. The odd bad apple, is effectively dealt with by you on this blog. On YouTube, there are many out to lunch and way off base comments. Things like equating communism with socialism, death threats to the Prime Minister and Rachel Notley, misogyny, racism and other vile things. On different social media platforms, there are very nasty things being spewed out by people. It’s rather disturbing. We know who is fuelling these things, much of the time. It’s sad.

      • Thanks Dwayne, there’s something about the anonymity of social media that emboldens people to say vicious things they’d never dream of saying face to face. Then along comes someone who doesn’t hide behind anonymity but rather spews his venom for profit. Alex Jones is the epitome of this type of social media personality. I was shocked when he said the Sandy Hook school shooting was fake (the CIA staged it), I was even more shocked with a well educated business woman I know said she believed him. I’m beginning to think that constant exposure to this kind of rubbish warps the human brain so that even reasonable people lose the ability to critically analyze what they’re being told. There’s no point in engaging with people like that. They can go to The Rebel and we’ll stick with The Soapbox.

  11. Dwayne says:

    Susan: First of all, I want to thank you for another great article. I would like to offer my thoughts on these matters. Doug Ford and the PCs winning in Ontario is going down the wrong road for Ontario. What tangible platform does he have? Is he going to be a repeat of the Mike Harris years? I feel sharp austerity is in the works. That is a scary path to be taking. He also has some baggage from the start, with the lawsuit issue. I don’t think the PCs in Ontario will last very long. They used to have a credible government many years ago, but that has changed in the 1990s. For Jason Kenney and others to think that what happened in Ontario is a prediction of what is to come for Alberta is laughable. Bob Rae and the NDP were in government in Ontario, when a major recession hit. All of Canada was badly affected by this. Then, Mike Harris came in and basically emulated what Ralph Klein did. That was a major failure. There are people who are quick to condemn the NDP, but fail to remember how they have the record for the most balanced budgets. These same people also fail to remember how bad the PCs governed in Saskatchewan and under Brian Mulroney. They also fail to remember how bad the Alberta PCs were, for most of their time in office. Peter Lougheed was a visonary, a future planner and a centrist. The other Alberta PC governments were awash in the worst scandals and did bad policies like accepting paltry oil royalty rates, milking the Heritage Savings Trust Fund, deregulation, and privatization and gave Albertans a flat tax failure. They neglected things so badly, that it cannot be repaired in just one term. The other scary thing is that Jason Kenney appears to want to go down that same road. A return to austerity, the dreaded flat tax, with more federal government bashing on the side. I hope people realize what a big mistake Jason Kenney would be as a premier for Alberta.

    • Dwayne, thank you for this excellent historical perspective. It’s quite remarkable to see how far the progressive conservatives have strayed from their original vision as articulated by Peter Lougheed. The Lougheed conservatives must cringe when they hear Kenny spout off about revitalizing the “conservative movement” because Kenney’s conservatism and Lougheed’s conservatism are nothing alike. There are some conservatives who would rather vote against their interests than support the NDP which is both sad and ironic given that Notley is more like Lougheed in intellect and vision than Kenny ever could be. For the life of me I can’t understand why his supporters fail to recognize this. Is it a lack of facts, a lack of critical thinking, laziness, or just blind loyalty to a bankrupt party. God knows.

      • Dwayne says:

        Susan: I don’t see Doug Ford and the PCs lasting very long in Ontario. Something is going to happen that will cause that party to be voted out. He will do something drastic, and many people will not agree with it or like it. For some reason, I also see the PCs not lasting long in Manitoba either. Also, I sense that the Saskatchewan Party is on its final days. As for Alberta, the UCP is in a shambles. That party is falling apart at the seams. What they have said and what they have done so far, does not bode well for them. Peter Lougheed would be very upset with what they are doing. Jason Kenney (with the sole exception of disagreeing with Donald Trump’s latest issues on the tarrif issue), is a federal government basher. What did he do, while he was in the federal government, about the issues he is upset about Justin Trudeau supposedly not dealing with? It is hard to tell if he is a provincial government MLA, or if he is still a CPC MP. He also seems to be involved with other provincial government elections (like Ontario’s). That, and he seems to want to emulate things Doug Ford is doing, like having cheap beer. Lastly, we have the CPC. They are going around in circles and are in mess. Andrew Scheer supported Donald Trump recently, then backed away. Next, he removed Maxime Bernier from his shadow cabinet. The CPC has no real leadership. I don’t know how people can support these parties. Then, we have the media, basically endorsing the conservative parties in Canada. The CBC did an article recently about failed female politicians in Canada and why they have lost. Rachel Notley was included in that article. People caught on to the obvious mistake and the CBC had to retract the article, as Rachel Notley is still Alberta’s premier. The Toronto Sun was basically going non stop on endorsing Rob Ford and the PCs. They made an article about a candidate for the NDP and speaking out against what that person’s policies and beliefs were. Yet, that person was not entering into politics. Things are unreal. Yet, there are people who think the media in Canada has a Liberal bias. They also think voting Conservative will solve everything. That is quite off the mark.

  12. Grace Wong says:

    I agree 100% with pretty much every point made here; I am just concerned that we’re going to see the same phenomenon that the U.S. experienced in 2016 – for all the talk of GOTV, progressives simply don’t vote, particularly if they’re pissed off. I hope I’m wrong, but historically speaking in this province, the PCs won all the time because the reliably conservative old folks voted and progressives didn’t. That said, if all the women you’re networking with are getting word out to their respective networks and on and on (sorta like that old Faberge commercial), and said networks actually vote, then maybe we stand a chance.

    *Fingers crossed*

    • Grace you’re bang on about GOTV. A friend and I were discussing Joe Ceci running in Calgary-Buffalo. There should be lots of support for him in that area but it won’t mean a thing if they don’t show up on voting day. Surely progressives have learned something from the Trump debacle—when someone shows you who they are, for God sakes don’t sit at home and let them get elected.

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