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Saskberta? It's April Fool's Day on the Alberta election trail

Alberta Wildrose leader Danielle Smith picks up a take out order at Peter's Drive-In while making a campaign stop in Calgary, Alta., Saturday, March 31, 2012. Albertans go to the polls on April 23.

Jeff McIntosh/The Canadian Press/Jeff McIntosh/The Canadian Press

Alberta's Wildrose Party appears to be taking a page from the policy playbook of the defunct Rhinoceros Party of Canada.

But instead of paving the Bay of Fundy and flattening the Rocky Mountains, if elected premier on April 23, Leader Danielle Smith pledged to embark on negotiations with neighbouring Saskatchewan to merge it with Alberta to form a new province to be dubbed "Saskberta." The capital cities would be relocated to the border town Lloydminster, which would be renamed Regimonton, she added in a statement released April 1.

"Alberta and Saskatchewan are both blessed with abundant natural resources, which is clearly an area we can better pursue as a single province," Ms. Smith said in what was obviously a prank. "We also have a shared commitment to eliminate pirate activity on the North Saskatchewan River."

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The merger only makes sense, according to Ms. Smith, since it would give Alberta both a deep-water port to help export energy resources as well as "significantly expanded parking."

Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall turned to Twitter to offer his lukewarm endorsement of the proposal citing the historic efforts of Frederick Haultain, who was key in the formation of both Alberta and Saskatchewan, as well as the 1905 federal Liberal decision to create two provinces.

"That's what Haultian wanted, Prov of Buffalo," Mr. Wall wrote, "Laurier feared future influence and split us up #maynothaveworked"

Making it work won't be easy, Ms. Smith conceded, especially since Alberta already has two NHL franchises, while Saskatchewan has hockey envy.

As a result, Ms. Smith said her first priority would be to address that imbalance and bring a third NHL team to the region, which could represent both provinces.

"I think the 'Saskberta Grain Elevators' would be a great name," Ms. Smith said.

Mr. Wall said he was concerned Ms. Smith was setting the bar too low and wondered where in Saskatchewan the new team would be located.

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"Only one?" he wrote, "Which city have you just angered?"

Flailing badly in the polls against the long-governing Progressive Conservatives, Wildrose has also given up on its mantra of "free enterprise, less government, increased personal freedom, and democracy."

From now on, Ms. Smith said, Wildrose stands for "cuddling small animals, drawing pictures with children, loving cake, and provocative public transport."

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About the Author
Dawn Walton

Dawn Walton has been based in Calgary for The Globe and Mail since 2000. Before leaving Toronto to head West, she won a National Newspaper Award and was twice nominated for the Michener Award for her work with the Report on Business. More

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