So you saw those seductive “Alberta is calling” ads trying to lure B.C. workers to Wild Rose Country and you’re thinking of escaping this zero-vacancy rate, $2.30-a-litre nightmare and starting a new high-income, low-mortgage life in a place where there’s no sales tax.
You’re pondering the idea because the campaign guarantees “312 days of sunshine a year,” shorter commutes and “40 per cent of tax filers” don’t even pay income tax. But you’re anxious because it might turn out to be …weird.
You’ve come to the right place. I’ve lived on this rock for ages, so I know what you’re going through. But I’ve also been to Alberta several times and visited West Edmonton Mall once, back when it was a thing.
So here’s an FAQ list for British Columbians curious about moving to Alberta. It can help guide your decision.
Q. “Is it true there’s a hockey team in Alberta called the ‘Oilers’? That’s gross.”
A. Yes, that’s a real thing. For a coastie, it’s hard to wrap your mind around the idea that “oil” isn’t a swear word. But in Alberta, you’ll meet lots of people who say it with pride. You’ll be at a party and someone will say: “Hi, my name is Jane. I work on the oil rigs.”
Your first inclination is to go “yuck” and glue yourself to a road. In Alberta, that’s considered rude.
The oil and gas industry is an honoured part of the society there. Its workers have many of the same rights everyone else enjoys.
It takes some adjustment, for sure. But when you’re filling up at $1.40 a litre you can get used to it in a hurry.
An even bigger adjustment is that those Oilers have won the Stanley Cup five times, which is something B.C.ers will never have to worry about.
Q. “Is Alberta politically stable?”
A. No, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Premier Danielle Smith is the sixth premier in 11 years. There are gerbils there that outlasted four governments.
B.C. had a similar burn rate in years gone by and it was endlessly entertaining. In Alberta, the right wingers spent years scheming and tussling amongst themselves. It was like watching grizzly cubs playfighting in the Foothills, only their razor-sharp claws were out, they bit deep into the jugulars and there was blood spraying everywhere. They got so preoccupied, the New Democrats actually won a term.
Q. “Is there gender equity in Alberta?”
A. Some oil-producing areas — like Saudi Arabia, where they only started letting women drive five years ago — are a tad behind the times. Not Alberta. Three of their last five premiers have been women. And the men in that lineup didn’t last as long as the women. They don’t seem to have the staying power.
Q. “One of the selling points in the campaign is that there’s a much younger workforce. What does that mean?”
A. The subliminal message is that Alberta is much younger and hipper and that B.C. is kind of stodgy and past it. That’s outrageously misleading. You know who moved from Alberta to Vancouver because it’s so sophisticated and cosmopolitan? Nickelback!
Q. “Premier Smith says she’s going to write a sovereignty act so that Alberta doesn’t have to follow federal laws it doesn’t like. Is that going to be a problem?”
A. This sounds concerning, but don’t worry about it. B.C. opted out of federal drug laws a few years ago, so they’re just borrowing from us.
Q. “A while ago, they were outlawing B.C. wine and threatening to turn off the pipeline taps. Will they really embrace B.C.ers now, or is it all a trick?”
A . You will be fully embraced — as long as you consistently drop the F-bomb in front of the word “Trudeau.”
Q. “One of the videos shows a young woman who moved to Calgary from Vancouver because she was looking for an affordable home. She said it was a positive change and she’s sure she made the right decision because it’s been very rewarding and she’s never been happier. Can that be true?”
A. It was true at the time they filmed it on her bike ride. But five minutes later, the temperature dropped 20 degrees and it started snowing. She couldn’t be reached for comment.
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