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So begins the Ontario media assassination of another national leader from the West Print E-mail
Written by Link Byfield   
Monday, 25 July 2005

An editorial fracas last week about Conservative leader Stephen Harper in the Ontario media illustrates, in a small way, why this country doesn't work.

Harper was criticized by the Globe and Mail, and even the Toronto Sun, for wearing an ordinary white felt cowboy hat and an ordinary black leather vest at Stampede.

(Check the unflattering picture for yourself at the Web log, and scroll down to the July 14 entry.)

So scathing is the Web site about Harper in a cowboy hat that the Toronto Sun (which supports him) felt compelled to warn him, in the discreet tone of someone advising a friend to use deodorant, "Stop dressing up in funny hats and outfits like this, and trying to be a gladhander."

Apparently cowboy hats turn off Ontarians in droves.
If true (and we have no reason to doubt it) we can hardly fault the Toronto Sun for telling us. But what does that say about Ontarians?
It tells us we have to conform to their tastes because they find ours ridiculous.
It tells us we may not celebrate our history and traditions if we want to be taken seriously nationally.
It tells us they have the political acumen of teenagers, and will judge a national leader on style rather than substance.

And it tells us (if we needed to be reminded) that they hold Albertans to a double standard.
Have the Ontario media ever criticized Paul Martin, Pierre Trudeau, Prince Philip, or anyone else for wearing "funny hats" in Calgary?
Not that I can recall.
But all hell breaks loose if an Alberta MP comes home and takes part in his own city's biggest annual bash--probably the best-known Canadian civic festival in the world.
Now why is this?
Is it because Ontarians associate Stetsons with American culture, which they despise, though they themselves lack any recognizable equivalent? Maybe. But that only proves they're envious.
 Is it because they think Calgary has no genuine cowboy culture of its own? Maybe. But that only means they're ignorant.
The historical fact is that after the Indians wiped out the last remaining Canadian buffalo in the Cypress Hills in 1879, the empty western plains soon filled up with unfenced cattle ranches bigger than present-day Toronto.
These were owned and operated by newcomers from Britain, Canada and the U.S.--the Waldron, the Cochrane, the Oxley, the Northwest Cattle Co., the Beresford, the Bar U.
The fall roundups swept grassland areas the size of maritime provinces. Maybe Ontarians aren't taught about this in school.
Who knows?
And more to the point, why should we have to care?
Well, mainly because Ontarians elect our national government. Their ruling media and political elites subjected Preston Manning and Stockwell Day to the same relentless, mindless, juvenile ridicule, and most Ontario voters bought it.
The result was the Chretien decade, one of the most disastrous in Canadian history.
Ontarians are an enigma to us Albertans.
Most of the individuals we know from that province are okay, and some are fine people.
However, this altogether typical example of Ontario bitchiness about something as trivial as a hat suggests that collectively and politically they are intolerant, insecure and ill-informed.
It suggests to us that we aren't accepted as a valid and equal part of the country.
Why should we have to change our ways to suit them?
- Link Byfield

Link Byfield is chairman of the Edmonton-based Citizens Centre for Freedom and Democracy, and an Alberta senator-elect.

"Just Between Us" is a feature service of the Citizens Centre for Freedom and Democracy. The purpose of the Citizens Centre is to enhance freedom and democracy by enabling ordinary citizens to become active and effective on important issues outside the normal processes of party politics.

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