It's tough being an Albertan in the midst of a federal election campaign.
Like the fabled Maytag repairman, no one ever calls you - why would any political party bother polling in Alberta when the result is a foregone conclusion? And political door knocking? Fuhgeddaboudit!
I live in Prime Minister Stephen Harper's home riding in Calgary. I work out of a home office, so I'm around most of the time and, trust me, no one comes a-courtin'. It's lonely, I tell you, and more than a little bit discouraging.
I'm not one to hold a grudge, though. I mean, I get it. In the last federal election (as in so many elections before), the Conservatives made out like bandits hereabouts. The total haul: 27 of Alberta's available 28 federal seats. The lone exception was the riding of Edmonton-Strathcona, captured (in a squeaker) by the NDP's Linda Duncan. That was enough to reinforce the nickname many Albertans have for my old hometown: Redmonton.
Still, I can't help but yearn for a bit of pulse-quickening democracy. You know, the kind where federal party leaders actually come to your province during an election campaign and solicit your vote. Or where your sitting MP, seeking re-election, deigns to show up at all-candidates meetings.
I'm not asking for a lot here, folks - just a bit of electoral stroking. Do I have to move to Quebec and vote for Gilles Duceppe to feel the love?
Speaking of Mr. Duceppe and his Bloc brigade, some might say Quebeckers are right up there with Albertans when it comes to herding the vote. But then they do it strategically, right? "Holding the knife to the throat" is what I believe it's called.
So vote en masse for a party bent on breaking up Canada, and the political pitching and wooing never stops. How many millions would you like for that new airport, darling? Can we soften the blow of that nasty HST?
But wed yourself to Canada's governing party and what do you get? Benign neglect at best, I'm afraid. And, on occasion, a bit of spousal abuse.
Doth I protest too much? Well, what about those income trusts Mr. Harper and the rest of the Alberta 27 decided to bust up, no matter how many tears of rage flowed from Calgary's oil patch? Or the refusal to financially support Edmonton's bid for Expo 2017? A bit of payback, methinks, for that lone spurned advance in Edmonton-Strathcona.
But why punish us so for being faithful Canadians?
Not that the other suitors are much better, mind you.
We had such hopes for that nice Michael Ignatieff. Shortly after taking the Liberal helm, he bravely stood before a Montreal audience and (gasp!) defended Alberta's oil sands as an engine of economic growth and opportunity for all Canadians. But the election writ had barely dried when there he was, vowing to ban tanker traffic on the West Coast that might one day take Alberta crude to Asian markets - a brazen overture, I tell you, to our more comely B.C. cousins.
And don't get me started on that Jack Layton fellow, huffing and puffing about Alberta's "tar sands" during a campaign stop in (you guessed it) Quebec. Poor Linda Duncan - she's still trying to pull the knife out of her back.
But that's how it goes here in lovelorn Big Sky Country. We pine for a bit of attention, a smidge of affection, a whisper of respect. But, alas, to no avail. The rest of the country is caught up in the full flush of election-time seduction. But, in Alberta, it's crying time again.
Brian Bergman is a Calgary-based writer and editor.