Ralph Klein has gone and it is time to retire Ralph's World. Thanks to all of you who have supported this venture by contributing material and through your comments. It has been fun.

Should we get another blog underway? Let me know your thoughts by e-mailing me at johnnyslow@gmail.com.

John Slow
January 1, 2007

Tuesday, September 30, 2003


The need for strong voices stating the truth and the reality of politics in Alberta has become extremely urgent when, as we do now, we citizens face the possibility that the people of Alberta could, for the fourth time, be deceived into voicing approval for Ralph Klein. In fact such approval would really be support to the small legion of planners and plotters whose strategies and manipulations Ralph demonstrates every time he appears in public. We must believe that truth and respect for the citizens of this Province are more powerful than the half-truths, the doctored information and the outright lies that have enabled this one man to proclaim himself, even in jest, the supreme ruler of a world he alone has created.

Few things are more clear in today’s Canada than that Ralph Klein sees himself as the most powerful man in the nation. Far more serious, though, and more dangerous to Democracy, is his obvious delusion that when he makes his pronouncements he knows exactly what every man, woman and child in Alberta needs.

Protected from reality, as Ralph is, by what is probably the largest body of political game players surrounding any public figure in the country it’s not surprising that he has come to believe there is no power in Alberta greater than his own. So much had his head swollen by the evening of March 12, 2001, that he arrogantly renamed the whole Province as “Ralph’s World”.

Frankly, the words uttered that night by a blustering Ralph were a demeaning insult to the citizens of this Province. There is so much pretense and posturing in the politics he practices that Ralph’s World is as phony and artificial as the backdrop scenery in a Hollywood movie. Yet the dangerous part is that so many citizens aren’t informed enough or don’t care enough to see through the self-created illusion. Ralph really thinks he is the undisputed chieftain of a tribe of people he calls Albertans. There are few things I would more like to accomplish by writing than to expose the lies in this myth by calling on citizens to look behind the image of his power and take back the authority that belongs to the people. Right now we do not have democracy, what we have is a deceptocracy. You won't find the word "deceptocracy" in a dictionary but what it means is that modern propaganda machines have tremendous power to deceive as well as inform.

In reality the Alberta government is only one part of a much larger reality called Canada. Yet Ralph speaks and acts as if he and he alone knows what is good for the whole nation. Alberta is made up of men and women who are potentially capable of discriminating between half truths and lies; between fabrications and genuine articles. Yet Ralph constantly speaks to us and for us as if he and his cronies think we haven’t got the brains we were born with. They act as if we haven’t a clue as to what is worth valuing and preserving and what is worthless and should be eliminated without loss to society. So he can devastate our education systems, withhold money from our hospitals, treat teachers and nurses as greedy laborers who care only about money. He can push the poor, the elderly and the barely employed to the brink of starvation and no one can stop him.

The truth is this man’s power stands on the most expensive and carefully orchestrated advertising and sales campaign ever unleashed on the people of a Canadian Province. Except that it’s on a smaller scale, Ralph’s publicity machine uses all the components of the sales job George W. Bush employed recently to sell the American people on blasting Iraq to pieces. Ralph’s war against the deficit began with a phony consultation process through which anyone who has ever organized a public meeting knew before the first word was spoken what Ralph Klein was going to be told to say. Out of this pretense of Democracy came headline grabbing slogans like “Albertans have told us...” and “We have a spending problem not a revenue problem.”

Obviously backed by big money from powerful corporations, Ralph was already being taken all over the Province by the fastest machines money could buy. His professional advertising staff were so successful at getting his pictures taken, his name in the headlines and on the news that it seemed he was like Superman who could swoop down out of the sky at a minute’s’ notice. If there was a burger to fry or a pancake to flip or a ribbon to cut he’d be there exactly where the cameras were in focus. Like a traveling salesman he made the same pitch again and again so many times that, as happens with a TV commercial, people all over the place began to repeat slogans like “we have a spending problem not a revenue problem” and “that was then, this is now.”

Cleverly, like a traveling evangelist, Ralph convinced the masses that they were all guilty of the sin of overspending. The elderly, the social service recipients, the health care workers and the educators of our children were even more guilty than others for driving up the costs of government. Entrepreneurs and so-called business leaders who had wasted massive amounts of the people’s money, he implied, had just made little mistakes for which they should be forgiven without penalty. We the citizens were responsible, he claimed, for forcing him to raise the haunting specter of a great evil force called a deficit coming to rob our children of their future and take us all into the poor house.

Ralph’s message “start tightening your belts and stop consuming (his word) services like hospital care, old age benefits, children's education and help for the poor of society. Begin instead asking teachers, nurses, welfare workers to take pay cuts and do less caring for the children, the sick the weak and the elderly. “Turn things over to me, Ralph said, and I will lead you out of debt and into the freedom of a market place where business people and entrepreneurs look after everything and where the government is hardly even necessary.”

A carefully crafted image was developed around Ralph during the courtship phase of election campaigns. During the first, the words “He Listens and he cares” were plastered on billboards, heard on radio commercials and seen in full color TV and newspaper ads always near his smiling face. The implication was that this grinning, congenial man was above politics and commercialism. When he became the leader they inferred he would place people and their needs at the top of his system of values. Skillfully projected onto the public screen was the fantasy that “Ralph’s Team” would undo everything former premiers had done wrong. He would restore the citizen’s faith in politics by keeping his promises. Ralph’s cure for all Alberta’s ills was marketed in precisely the same way that cures for bad breath and body odors had been sold for ages.

Klein’s elevation to Premier of Alberta turned out to be proof of what powerful advertising can do toward influencing the public to buy a product they know little about. As in most sales campaigns, when that product showed up on delivery it was far different from what it looked like as it was being promoted. When Ralph arrived in the Legislature a significant portion of Alberta citizens soon realized they’d been like a too-trusting and ill-informed woman who’d been seduced into marrying a man who turned into an angry and controlling bully the day after the wedding. It was clear from the beginning of his leadership in the House that even those, like the leader of the opposition who also tried to represent the people who voted for him, were going to be shouted down and demeaned by Ralph’s arsenal of put-down word weapons. Scorn, ridicule and vituperation were ready for use on anyone who dared challenge his attitudes or ideas. The public soon knew that any idea that wasn’t Ralph’s was a “no-brainer” or “stupid”. Anyone who spoke up to protect the vulnerable would be written off as member of a “special interest group.” No one it seemed, except Ralph, was capable of speaking for the people o Alberta unless they were told to do so by some suspect enemy of the state.

This was a very different Ralph from the carefully crafted image of a smiling, benevolent, good natured depression-raised uncle-type man who was only doing what Albertans were making him do. He went on to play the role of a tough but good hearted dictator as he siphoned money out of school and hospital budgets, bullied teachers and nurses into taking pay cuts and pushed the button that imploded a Calgary hospital. At that time, he was still just plain old Ralph an Alberta boy who drank beer with his buddies, often to excess, and sometimes said stupid things like calling people from other provinces “Eastern creeps and bums.” Now, he told us, he knew what was best for us and was just doing what he had to do for our own good.

An impressionable public was led to imagine that he still drove a pick up with a rifle in the back window like oil field workers did at the time. All the while, of course, he was being jetted around the Province in corporate or government planes, dining with the rich and well-to-do, golfing in private resorts and entertaining at government expense. What became painfully clear to any citizen who wasn’t totally blinded by Ralph’s publicity system was that Ralph had always seen the welfare of persons and their needs as the very lowest of his priorities. Corporate Alberta had always been the audience to which he played.

Playing with reporters looking for an easy way to get their faces on TV or their names in print, Ralph knew the game. It’s called the “I’ll feed you quick quotes and sound bites (wink wink) if you’ll get my name into headlines and my face on the evening news.” So long as the media kept his personal behavior from the public and didn’t report some of the bizarre things he said when behind the scenes, Klein fed them a constant stream of easy quotes designed to prove that he was doing everything right. Instead of listening and caring he was now talking and blaming. Just too bad, he now said, for those becoming victims of his cold calculating money-driven policies. After all to make an omelet you have to break a few eggs was the dehumanizing attitude of his government. All of his government’s actions were dominated by money, corporate profits and forcing the workers who provided human care into lowering their wages.

There really had never been a question of where Ralph’s loyalties and priorities were. When finally revealed to the public people had trouble believing anyone could be so duplicitous. Many seemed to reason, that this smiling jovial fellow who had promised to take care of everything for us couldn’t be doing what he’s doing. The truth was, and still is, that If Ralph listens to anyone, it is only to the already rich and well healed, those enablers who feed his addiction to power. If Ralph cares at all about anything besides gaining more and more power for himself and his buddies he most certainly doesn’t expect it to come from the poor, the elderly, the ill or the educators of the children of society.

I repeat: it is extremely urgent, before it gets even worse, for the real Alberta citizens stand up and take back the power that belongs rightfully to us.

Submitted by Sandy

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?