Alberta politics and the language of consensus

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Elections in the Canadian province of Alberta where I live don't usually get much attention outside of its borders—or within, for that matter. As political pundits are often fond of saying, Albertans don't so much elect parties as anoint political dynasties: prior to last week's election, for example, the Progressive Conservative Party had ruled the province for 41 years, unmolested by much in the way of formal opposition or civic dissent. Where other regions tend to see a back-and-forth tug of war between parties, the pattern in Alberta has been to let a ruling party hunker down for decades, and topple it periodically in a mass voter stampede to a new, untested party which is then allowed to sit in power for another few decades.

But last week's election attracted a great deal of attention across Canada because it looked as if it would provoke one of those rare topplings of an Albertan dynasty. The challenger was the young Wildrose Party, whose meteoric rise on the political scene could be attributed to its charismatic leader Danielle Smith, to general disgruntlement over the PC Party's handling of health care and various ethical issues, and to the Wildrose's having poached several members of the governing party.

As always during an election, I keep an ear out for how language is being used. In this one, it turned out that the tussle over political rhetoric was as interesting as the struggle over the levers of power.

The central narrative of the Wildrose Party was this: The PC Party had once been the natural governing party of Alberta, representing its core values of conservatism and individualism. But their long years in power had caused them to become arrogant and lose their political/moral compass, abandoning the principles of fiscal restraint, an unfettered market, and individual liberties. The Wildrose Party offered a chance to sweep out the cobwebs and realign Alberta leadership with the true spirit of Alberta.

The Wildrose's efforts to stake a claim to the historical ideology of the PC Party were matched with an all-out campaign to appropriate the language of consensus for itself. There's a long tradition in Alberta politics in which successful parties have hitched their wagons to an Albertan identity that is typically portrayed as cohesive, unique within Canada, and often in opposition to the rest of the country. Political language in Alberta is shot through with references to "Alberta values". And it was clearly the goal of the Wildrose Party to become linked in the minds of voters with these self-evident "Alberta values".

You don't get this kind of talk everywhere. In my eleven years of living in Rhode Island, for example, I doubt that I heard a single political reference to "Rhode Island values". Regional sentiments run pretty deep in New England, but they don't seem to be defined or expressed in quite the same way. (By way of contrast, think of the wildly successful anti-littering campaign slogan "Don't mess with Texas!" This only worked because it resonated with a common identity that coincided with state boundaries.)

From day one, the Wildrose Party branded itself as the party of Alberta-loving Albertans. Beginning with its name of course, which refers to Alberta's provincial flower. (Alberta's license plates, in fact, read "Wild Rose Country", which I guess makes it all official.)

Early in the campaign, the Wildrose tried to sow seeds of doubt as to whether Alison Redford, the leader of the beleaguered PC Party, was sufficiently Albertan. Remarks were made about the fact that Redford, who'd spent years working in South Africa as a human rights lawyer, had once considered applying for South African citizenship. And when Redford discussed how Alberta needed new policies that would increase Alberta's prominence on the global stage, Wildrose leader Danielle Smith launched into the following:

I think Ms. Redford doesn't like Alberta all that much. She doesn't like who we are. She doesn't like our character. She wants to change it. I think that's going to be the ballot question. I think that's the question that people are going to have to ask in the next election. Do we need to be changed. Do we need Ms. Redford to change us? Do we have anything to be embarrassed about. I think the answer is a resounding "no"….I like Alberta as it is. I don't think she does.

Alison Redford's rejoinder to all this was that Alberta had in fact already changed, and now its government needed to catch up.

What was striking was the sheer frequency with which the Wildrose campaign bandied about the words Alberta and Albertans, as in "What Albertans want…" or "We're putting Albertans first." This occurred far more often than in any of the other parties' campaigns. In fact, the further left you moved on the political spectrum, the less often the words seemed to appear. Where, for instance, the Wildrose's Danielle Smith might talk about policies that would benefit Albertans and Alberta families, the leader of the left-wing New Democrats was more likely to talk about "ordinary folks" and "regular families". This suggests the words were being used not in their denotational sense (that is, for the purpose of referring to people who live in Alberta) so much as in their connotational sense (for the purpose of setting off the usual mental vibrations that are triggered upon hearing the word Alberta).

I was curious enough about the connotations of these words to do an informal experiment in my undergraduate Language and Advertising class at the University of Calgary. I asked students to list the first four or five words they thought of in response to the question: "What is an Albertan?" Their responses clustered around that cohesive, traditional Albertan identity: "self-reliant, conservative, cowboys, hard-working, maverick, entrepreneurial, oilpatch" and so on. The kinds of elements you'd be likely to find strewn about in a speech by Danielle Smith or in the visual imagery of the Wildrose campaign, which often resembled those long-running Marlboro cigarette ads.

But the students' responses to my next question suggested a possible crack in the Wildrose's rhetorical strategy. When I asked them "How many of you feel that the words you just wrote describe you?" not one of a class of 75 raised their hand.

The majority of my students, it turns out, were born and raised in Alberta; nevertheless they seemed not to connect very much with an "Albertan identity". And if they didn't identify as "Albertans", how much personal resonance to the notion could there be for the many people who'd recently moved to Alberta from the Eastern provinces or other countries, sucked in by Alberta's booming economy and labor shortages over the past decade? Perhaps Redford was right to claim that Alberta had in fact changed in fundamental ways.

Still, a week from election day, pollsters were predicting that the Wildrose would win a majority of seats in the legislature. By many accounts, the party's campaign slammed into a wall in its final few days as the public reacted to controversial remarks made by two of its candidates. One of these, a pastor named Allan Hunsperger, had previously written in a blog that public schools should avoid teaching tolerance of homosexuality, since encouraging gays to take part in gay behavior would simply result in their being condemned to burn in "lakes of fire" in the afterlife. The other, Ron Leech, asserted during the campaign that he had an advantage over his ethnically Punjabi political rival because as a white candidate, he was able to speak for all ethnicities rather than merely his own ethnic community.

Danielle Smith insisted that these comments were not reflective of her party's views, while at the same time—perhaps rightly—defending her candidates' right to free speech, stating that it was up to voters to judge them for their remarks as individuals. But this response flew in the face of her entire rhetorical approach until that point, which was to paint the Wildrose Party as representative of a consensual Albertan identity. In the end, you can hardly drum the repetitive beat of linking your party to the common values of all citizens—indeed, frame the entire election as a referendum on these values—and then turn around and deny that your own candidates reflect that common set of values.

On election day, rather than receiving their forecasted shellacking, the PC Party emerged with a hefty majority of seats once again, prompting some to remark that we were back to the same old, same old provincial politics. But I rather doubt that in future elections, we'll see the same old, same old political language. I suspect that the days are numbered in which a distinct Albertan identity can be leveraged for political effect in the same ways it has been in the past. There was already evidence of its waning influence in the language chosen by the winning PC Party. On several occasions, Redford made reference to her party's loyalty to "Albertan and Canadian values". The conjunction might seem unremarkable to you. But to put it in perspective, imagine a Canadian prime minister campaigning on a platform of being true to "Canadian and North American values". Now that, with apologies to my American friends, is a phrase you're unlikely to hear anytime soon.

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36 Comments »

  1. Irenaeus Saintonge said,

    May 1, 2012 @ 2:15 pm

    Wow, UofC! Wasn't expecting that. I took an introductory linguistics class two years ago at the UofC, but it turns out that while I'm interested in the subject, it's not something in which I can be successful in an academic setting. :P Maybe I should have taken your class instead!

  2. BZ said,

    May 1, 2012 @ 2:34 pm

    Does "Albertan values" as opposed to "Alberta values" sound as strange as "New Jerseyan tomatoes" instead of "New Jersey tomatoes"? It seems to me that, at least in the US, this type of construction never appears for states, only for countries. You can have an American car, but you have a New Jersey tomato. It seems that the only time it's inflected is when it's a noun phrase, usually preceded by "a" in the singular. So, while I'm a New Jerseyan, I'm not New Jerseyan in the way that I'm American.

    It seems from your post that the switch to "Albertan" was to parallel the use of "Canadian". I don't know what I would do in such a situation. Maybe I'd repeat the word values to remove the requirement for parallel construction: "Alberta values and Canadian values", or maybe I'd rephrase it: "Alberta's and Canada's values".

  3. Kenny Easwaran said,

    May 1, 2012 @ 3:01 pm

    BZ – It might depend on the sound of the state name. Somehow "Texan values" and "Texas values" sound equally fine to me, while "Californian values" really doesn't sound as natural as "California values", and "Hawaiian values" sounds much more natural than "Hawaii values". But maybe I've got idiosyncratic judgments here. (Most of the state names I tried in my head pattern like "California".)

  4. GeorgeW said,

    May 1, 2012 @ 3:10 pm

    Are Alberta values and an Alberta identity the same thing? It seems that, as an example, one might appreciate cowboy values but not identify as a cowboy.

  5. Chandra said,

    May 1, 2012 @ 3:16 pm

    @BZ – I don't think it's any coincidence that the phrase "Albertan values" mimics the construction of the phrase "American values". Everything about the Wildrose party smacks of a particularly American approach to electioneering to me.

    In fact, I'd go so far as to say that Alberta (and the stereotypical Albertan identity that is apparently not actually held by that many actual Albertans) is the most America-like of all the Canadian provinces. But then I live in B.C. and the only place I've lived in Alberta is Jasper, which is the least Alberta-like of all the Albertan cities.

    [(js) Don't know about your linguistic analysis there—"Albertan values" also mimics "Canadian values", though it's distinctly odd to talk about either "America values" or "Canada values" as noun phrases. Both "Alberta values" and "Albertan values" seem fine. As noted, stylistic motivations such as the parallelism of a construction probably influence the choice of which expression to use.]

  6. Russell said,

    May 1, 2012 @ 3:22 pm

    "Regional sentiments run pretty deep in New England, but they don't seem to be defined or expressed in quite the same way. (By way of contrast, think of the wildly successful anti-littering campaign slogan 'Don't mess with Texas!')"

    You obviously haven't spent much time in Vermont, where we are at least as proud as Texans (this may have something to do with the fact that both states were independent republics before joining the U.S.). Our politicians, from town selectboard members to Governor talk about "Vermont values" constantly.

    In fact, here's Governor Shumlin saying "Don't Mess with Vermont" last December:

    http://www.7dvt.com/2011teat-more-kale-chick-fil-a-update

    [(js) Fair enough! Vermont definitely has a strong state identity that is blended with its politics, as does New Hampshire, though not all New England states do, despite having strong historical roots.]

  7. Chandra said,

    May 1, 2012 @ 3:24 pm

    @GeorgeW – If you're thinking of "cowboy values" in the sort of rosy-eyed Hollywood sense, maybe, but we're talking about a prairie province with plenty of actual cowboys living and working on the land, so my guess is that "cowboy values" is meant in a less figurative way in this case.

  8. Svafa said,

    May 1, 2012 @ 3:37 pm

    @BZ: I think the New Jersey example may have to do with the word's construction rather than its meaning. New Jerseyan seems strange to me, but mostly because of the way it sounds and looks. It could simply be regional as well though.

    For example, Texan values or Texan tomatoes sound normal, while Texas values and Texas tomatoes sound strange. Californian values sounds more natural than California values. Nebraskan values over Nebraska values, Carolinian values over Carolina values, etc. On the other hand, Ohio values over Ohio-an(?) values, Washington values over Washingtonian values, Kentucky values over Kentuckian values.

  9. GeorgeW said,

    May 1, 2012 @ 3:38 pm

    Chandra: I guess I was thinking of cowboy values more as self-reliant, rugged, individualistic, etc. Okay, maybe, I just described John Wayne.

  10. Chandra said,

    May 1, 2012 @ 3:57 pm

    @js – That was not really meant to be a linguistic analysis, just more of a personal theory based on my intuitions about the kinds of phrases people choose to use (which I know can be faulty), and about the Wildrose party's general rhetoric. It seems to me that American politicians (particularly conservative ones) use phrases like "American values" a lot more often than Canadian politicians would use the equivalent. It is my sense that, if using such a phrase at all, Canadian politicians might be more likely to choose a construction such as "Canada's values". All entirely subjective and unscientific, of course, as I should have clarified in the first place.

  11. D.O. said,

    May 1, 2012 @ 4:01 pm

    "Alberta values" returns 5530 ghits. For couple of US states with comparable population Google gives
    "Oklahoma values" 22100
    "Oregon values" 10200
    "Iowa values" 67300
    "Kentucky values" 3570
    "Connecticut values" 3170
    "Rhode Island values" 4390.
    Rhode Island is, of course, much smaller state, but it was mentioned in OP. The distribution seems puzzling, but it looks like Alberta is in the "low value" company. Of course, internet penetration has to be taken to account and also overall national inclination to value-mongering. To wit,
    "Canadian values" 210,000 + "Canada values" 73,800 / pop. 35 mil.
    "American values" 4,400,000 + "America's values" 96,000 / pop. 313 mil.
    Thus, propensity to use "geographic values" is about twice as large in US as in Canada, which props Albertan numbers somewhat.

    I will leave the detailed research of Canadian provinces to others just mention "Nova Scotia values" 3880 (pop. under 1mil.).

    [(js) Looking at frequency counts is of course always extremely worthwhile, though on their own, I'm not sure that these numbers tell us that much. For example, you'd get a hit for a phrase like "Rhode Island values its pristine beaches" appearing in a tourism article. A slightly better search would be for something like "rhode island values" + election, which would at least get you into the right context (and if you do this, some relevant hits do come up). An even better exercise would be to count the number of times the phrase appears in randomly-selected election speeches.]

  12. D.O. said,

    May 1, 2012 @ 4:31 pm

    @JS: You are certainly right, but I was not even eating breakfast at the time :)

    [(js) Indeed. Thanks to Mark L., we all have yet another reason to settle down to a decent breakfast every day.]

  13. The Ridger said,

    May 1, 2012 @ 4:43 pm

    Some of the confusion over forms stems from places that used to be countries – or at least independent entities – but aren't anymore, leaving traces behind. Hawai'i, Texas, Bavaria – all more likely to be "-an" forms. This is, I believe, why it's hard to get people to stop saying "Canadian" geese.

  14. RileyB said,

    May 1, 2012 @ 5:01 pm

    @Svafa: I'm a native Texan, and both your examples sound really strange to me. I checked the website of a major monthly magazine here (Texas Monthly), and there were only two examples of "Texan values," compared to 156 for "Texas values."

  15. alyxandr said,

    May 1, 2012 @ 5:43 pm

    Thirteen comments, and not one mention of the mind-bending and possibly oxymoronic designation "Progressive Conservative". Also interesting that the current plan to scrape the top three inches off of Northern Alberta, which I would have thought would be a fairly major issue, doesn't even rate a mention. Politics is a funny thing, innit.

  16. Ø said,

    May 1, 2012 @ 6:36 pm

    It's also somewhat lovely that Progressive Conservative is abbreviated PC.

  17. Morten Jonsson said,

    May 1, 2012 @ 6:45 pm

    The Progressive Conservative Party has had that name since 1942. It's a little late in the game to be making fun of it now. And of course they were PC long before it was politically correct.

  18. alyxandr said,

    May 1, 2012 @ 7:03 pm

    Not if you're almost completely ignorant of Canadian politics, it isn't. Plenty of time. (Sorry about that.)

  19. James hobemari said,

    May 1, 2012 @ 8:20 pm

    Alyxandr, i think you want an enviromentalist blog if you are seeking that sort of commentary. Language log is about language and, in my experience agnostic about everything, just like linguistics.

    Speaking of which, your usage of language is interesting in and of itself in its attempt to reframe the blog post commentary through the connotations it supports about how this issue should be immediate concern to everyone, regionally, nationally and globally. Considering this is not the first time regional environmental issues resonated through more global channels, i'm thinking specifically deforestation in brazil and the rhetoric used or even Kony, i am wondering how much you are borrowing and adapting from those rhetorical strategies.

  20. Julie Sedivy said,

    May 1, 2012 @ 10:31 pm

    @Alyxandr: the naming of Canadian political parties has a somewhat convoluted history, in part because it has a multi-party, rather than a two-party tradition. This means that new parties regularly spring up, merge, or disappear. In 1942, the Conservative Party of Canada became re-named the Progressive Conservative Party when the leader of the former Progressive Party, John Bracken, agreed to fold that party and become the leader of the Conservative Party—on condition that it be re-named the Progressive Conservative Party. Now, although the provincial branch of the PCs in Alberta has maintained that designation, the federal party has not. In 2003, the federal PC Party became the Conservative Party. This was due to a merger of the federal PC Party and the Reform Party, which had sprung up as a more right-wing alternative to the federal PC Party—one of its conditions was that the word "progressive" be dropped from the party's name.

    Got that? In case you're already confused, you should also know that in Alison Redford's acceptance speech on behalf of the Alberta Progressive Conservatives, she emphasized that her party represented both progressive and conservative elements—quite likely a nod to the voters, since it seems apparent that some measure of the success of the Alberta PC Party came from supporters of the Liberal Party who voted strategically for the PCs in an effort to keep the even more conservative Wildrose Party from forming the government. The leader of the Liberal Party was, naturally… a former member of the Progressive Conservative government.

    (It's no wonder Albertans keep voting for the same party—who can possibly keep track?)

  21. alex said,

    May 2, 2012 @ 2:13 am

    The PC Party of Canada always reminds me of a short story by Czech writer Jaroslav Hasek (who wrote "The Good Solder Svejk") entitled, "The Party in Favour of Revolutionary Progress Within the Limits of the Law". The party's policies were exactly as said on the tin.

  22. Mark Etherton said,

    May 2, 2012 @ 4:28 am

    @alex

    It was actually the Party of Moderate Progress within the Bounds of the Law (Strana mírnoho pokroku v mezích zákona).

  23. J.W. Brewer said,

    May 2, 2012 @ 8:08 am

    The Hasek party sounds like the joke about not-very-radical protesters chanting "What do we want? Gradual change! When do we want it? In due course!"

    In electoral discourse in Indiana, the choice between "Indiana values" and "Indianan values" is sidestepped by the reasonably frequent use by politicians of "Hoosier values" (which they claim to have and promote/defend, and claim their opponents lack and/or have betrayed). http://ase.org/news/alliance-save-energy-embraces-hoosier-values-while-promoting-energy-efficiency is a recent press release in which the group in question responds to an attack (in the context of the current GOP Senate primary) alleging inconsistency with such values.

  24. GeorgeW said,

    May 2, 2012 @ 9:57 am

    @J.W. Brewer: You lightened my morning. I am still grinning.

  25. Garrett Wollman said,

    May 2, 2012 @ 5:00 pm

    I just wanted to respond to what Svafa said yesterday, even if it is a bit out of time. When referring to U.S. states, the demonym is *almost never* used attributively, to the extent that it is the marker of an outsider (e.g., a BrE speaker, as they constantly make the same mistake). This mistake is easy to make because most of the demonyms for U.S. states are formed quite transparently from the state name and many are indistinguishable from plausible adjectives (e.g., "Californian", "Ohioan", "Floridian", "Minnesotan"). The only case I can think of off the top of my head, other than "Hoosier", where using the demonym attributively is unmarked is "Alaskan", but I'm not sure if actual Alaskans would agree, because my speech is contaminated by knowledge of "Alaskan Way", a road in Seattle, and street names often don't follow the same rules.

    The wrongness is more obvious for those state demonyms which are formed using the suffix "-er", like "Vermonter", "Mainer", "Bay Stater", "New Yorker", "Marylander", and (controversially) "Michigander".

  26. Jon Weinberg said,

    May 2, 2012 @ 5:56 pm

    Writing from Ann Arbor: Indeed, "Michigander" is controversial. But the weakness is obvious for either demonym: "Michigander values" and "Michiganian values" are equally silly. There can only be "Michigan values". (I never hear anybody here use that phrase, but Google teaches me that Republican politicians here use it, and apparently politicians out in Grand Rapids talk about "West Michigan values" without regard to party.)

  27. [LINK] “Alberta politics and the language of consensus” « A Bit More Detail said,

    May 2, 2012 @ 8:46 pm

    [...] Sedivy's analysis at Language Log of the language used in the recent Alberta provincial election, talking about the ways in which [...]

  28. The Ridger said,

    May 3, 2012 @ 3:38 am

    In a nice display of synchronicity, Gail Collins today writes about some Senate races touting State + values:

    the incumbent, Jon Tester, is running an ad titled “Jon Tester: Montana Beef — Montana Proud,” which shows how the senator “packs his own Montana beef in his roller-cooler when traveling between Montana and the Senate.”

    and

    "Rick Berg, North Dakota’s congressman, opened his campaign for Senate with an ad in which his mom assures voters that Rick was raised right and will legislate “the North Dakota way.”

    She even notes:

    Have you ever noticed that politicians are the only ones who ever say things like “That’s the North Dakota way” or “I’m Montana proud?” Some people identify with their town or city, and I did see an episode of “The Amazing Race” in which a guy from Kentucky claimed he was running for his county, which I found pretty unusual. But generally, you don’t notice all that much state-consciousness outside of Texas, except during election seasons.

  29. Rodger C said,

    May 3, 2012 @ 7:15 am

    @the Ridger: I'm not surprised at the Kentuckian racing for his county. Counties in Kentucky were generally laid out and bounded by the first settlers, who submitted the result to the legislature instead of the other way around. They thus form quite natural human units with a lot of local loyalty.

  30. Hamish said,

    May 3, 2012 @ 7:32 am

    "Midwest values" yields 36,500 GHits, "Midwestern values" 68,500.

    Never did get any of the landlocked to explain adequately just what such values comprised. I think it's more a state of mind than anything quantifiable, but would love to be proved wrong.

  31. Coleman said,

    May 3, 2012 @ 12:54 pm

    I think you're on target with your assessment: that Albertans know the Albertan image, but don't necessarily identify with it. I live in the Peace River region in northeastern BC, about 20 minutes from the Alberta border, and I spend a fair amount of time in Alberta. It's oil / natural gas and farming country up here. A few weeks before the election, I was talking to a few old-time Albertans, all of whom are farmers or ranchers AND oil/gas workers – about as Albertan as you can get. Their view of the election? "We've really got two choices – conservative, or redneck conservative." I know that some American southerners wear the badge of "redneck" with pride, but these guys were certainly not using it in a positive sense.

  32. hector said,

    May 3, 2012 @ 3:08 pm

    "Progresssive Conservative" was not an oxymoron. For decades, the federal party had a "red tory" wing that was, basically, socially liberal but believed in smaller government. As near as I can make out, this wing has disappeared under Harper. The Alberta PCs, have, however, become home to a lot of urban, cosmopolitan types, so "Progressive Conservative" is still a valid designation for the Alberta party.

  33. J.W. Brewer said,

    May 3, 2012 @ 6:34 pm

    Re Coleman's point, w/o turning this from LL into Canadian Politics Log, there was an analysis http://www2.macleans.ca/2012/04/24/alberta-surprise-what-went-right-for-redford/ by my favorite (ok, out of a sample of one . . .) Alberta-based political commentator that seems consistent with the points made above while also putting them into the context of this particular election cycle.

    Key quote: "But the net effect of the last half of the campaign was to make Smith look defiantly “Albertan”, to appear to be an Albertan contra mundum and-to-hell-with-what-anyone-else-thinks. In most years, in most Albertas, that would work. It may even work again in the future, when Albertans feel less insecurity about finding a way to force our boutique oil into foreign markets and more comfortable about reverting to “Let’s all get super drunk at the Stampede” mode. But in 2012 Albertans are feeling vulnerable about identity, and Smith’s problems provoked a late, instinctive counter-reaction. Herself a promising avatar of change and modernity, the Wildrose leader found herself endlessly defending men who looked and sounded like an old Super-8 film of Socreds at a 1968 ribbon-cutting for a curling rink. Redford, meanwhile, stuck to her game and got it right: keep reminding Albertans that the world exists, and is watching, and is very large."

    (You need to know a bit about the Bronze Age of Alberta politics to understand the "Socreds" reference, but you can work it out from wikipedia if so inclined.)

  34. Bill Lee said,

    May 3, 2012 @ 7:50 pm

    Now about the Progressive Conservatives.
    (We won't mention the recent acronym on the founding of the present Federal Conservative partty when it was the Canadian Reform Alliance Party)

    There has been an federal Conservative Party since 1867 (Confederation) founding of Dominion of Canada from 4 colonies,
    But it was initially called the Lib-Conservatives, popularly known as the Tories.
    Nowadays there are so-called Red Tories, socially active Conservative members of the old party.
    Many provinces, like Alberta, Newfoundland And Labrador have Progressive Conservative proviniclal parties and governments.

    Unlike the oddments of Wikipedia (French Canadian and English Canadian) and instant political revision, a quick authoritiy is The Canadian Encyclopedia (conceived in Edmonton, Alberta) with
    http://thecanadianencyclopedia.com/articles/party-system
    And the longer (5000 words) history of the Conservative party in Canada, with inclusion of the mildly left-leaning John Bracken of the Progressive party at:
    http://thecanadianencyclopedia.com/articles/conservative-party

    Every article also exists in French and English.

    Searching for the Progressive Conservative Party leads to the above.

    Indeed, "For the first half century after Confederation, Canada had a two-party system, like Great Britain's, after which it was modelled. However, this pattern was shattered with the rise of the Progressive movement during the Great War. Nationally, since 1921, there have been representatives of at least 3 and more often 4 or even 5 political parties in Parliament. The LIBERAL PARTY, the CONSERVATIVE PARTY and the CO-OPERATIVE COMMONWEALTH FEDERATION (and its successor the NEW DEMOCRATIC PARTY) have been represented in every Parliament since 1935. Other parties sometimes represented have included the PROGRESSIVE PARTY, the UNITED FARMERS OF ALBERTA, SOCIAL CREDIT, the BLOC POPULAIRE and the Labour Progressive Party. In 1993 the REFORM PARTY (succeeded by the CANADIAN ALLIANCE in 2000) and the BLOC QUÉBÉCOIS made dramatic entrances into the federal arena. Indeed, more than 100 other political parties have run at least one candidate in an election."

    [names in ALL CAPS link to other articles]

    [ TheCanadian…com. was to get around cyber squatters on CanadianEncyclopedia.com when the Molson's created the on-line version of the 3-volume set.

    Now that you are dozy with Canadian topics, time to read A Worthwhile Canadian Initiative, a hot multi-author Economics blog like Language Log, but less exciting
    http://worthwhile.typepad.com/

    P.S. Jack Chambers (U of Toronto) wrote:
    http://thecanadianencyclopedia.com/articles/linguistics

  35. Matt McIrvin said,

    May 4, 2012 @ 5:42 am

    Might the result of the experiment with the university students have to do with the fact that those were university students? I don't know anything about Alberta politics, but I know that in analogous situations in the United States, the people who go around making the most political noise about being "typical Americans" or "true Americans" would generally agree that a university is the last place you'd find them.

  36. Matt McIrvin said,

    May 4, 2012 @ 5:46 am

    By the way, until this moment I had no idea that "don't mess with Texas" was an anti-littering slogan.

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