Thomas Mulcair, Leader of the federal NDP and of the Government of Canada’s official opposition, visited Alberta this week. Upon reading and listening to the various news reports of how we as a province managed his visit, I am left shaking my head.

First, I should state that I am pro oil sands, am not a Mulcair fan & do not agree with Mr Mulcair’s comments about oil sands vs manufacturing at all. The points about being divisive and being overly dependent on a low dollar are well made.

Secondly, I should say that although I do have some marketing and communications on my resume, I think it’s safe to assume that the governing party of this province has in its employ a gaggle of much more highly qualified and experienced communications professionals than myself. Soooooo… I shake my head some more. How is it that no one in government communications seems to understand the ineffectiveness of our marketing strategy?

Sun News refers Thomas “The Hair” Lukaszuk squaring off against Thomas “The Beard” Mulcair (Ladies, let’s have a separate discussion sometime over wine regarding which one – great hair or great beards – trumps) in what can only be described as an exercise by both parties in posturing. No bridges were built, no relationships forged, no new understanding sought or gained by either Thomas. What real (other than political) purpose does any of this serve?

To me, it’s like having someone come to your house to talk to you about nutrition. Would you take them to the fridge and discuss food or to the garage to show them your car? This is how far off track we are! While the rest of the world is talking about the environment, we keep waving the banner of economy. We’re not even having the same conversation!  So Mulcair decides to take the mountain to Mohammed and talk about the economy. He’s thinking, “Okay, Alberta, you wanna talk about the economy? Let’s talk about it!” And our response? Unchanged! Do we listen, engage, and try to generate any level of dialogue? Nope, we posture and scold and congratulate ourselves from high a top  Mount Economy.

How’s it working? Was anything accomplished by our stance with Mulcair? Only one thing: our government can now come back to us and say, “See? We’re standing strong. We’re sending strong messages. We won’t be bullied.” And I say, so what? Does that actually get us anywhere? Will drawing lines in the sand change the world’s (or even the rest of the country’s) opinion? “Oh, well I was all concerned about the environmental impact of the oil sands, but since you yelled at me about how rich you are and how I should be grateful that you share that wealth with me, I now see the light and feel better”. Dudes. Come on.

In my opinion, we need two things:

1) A commitment to honest, open dialogue with leaders from across the country and the world. Our puffy-chested posture may make us feel good, but it does not get the results we actually need. Besides, we’ve done that bit to death; why not try something new and see what happens? Perhaps a bit of humility could open the doors of change. Just a suggestion.

2) External champions. We’re spending millions, perhaps billions, in this province, blowing our own horn. Obviously there is a credibility issue since we have a vested interest. If we could find high-profile folks outside the province without an agenda who would, free of charge, champion the message of our environmental progress, we could maybe get somewhere. I suppose the question is whether or not those people exist.

Rant complete. Tell me what you think.