This article discusses the memorable former premier of Alberta, Ralph Klein.

Let’s call it R.A.L.P.H. The Rally for the Abolition of the Legislature Post Haste.

Legislatures are so annoying. Question periods put a government on the defensive, ask awkward questions, destroy the image of Conservative infallibility, give publicity to Opposition views, and are a general nuisance.

So let’s do without them. Two sessions of the legislature per year are not really essential. If policy is a question, forget about those who have been elected to discuss and decide on it. Handpick a number of people who belong, in one way or another, to the Establishment. Call it a Growth Summit, devise an elaborate way of facilitating its procedures and collecting its views. Then disregard any conclusions, because they haven’t been democratically arrived at, and such a summit has no legislative authority at all.

Are VLTs a problem? Simple. Mix an assorted panel of experts (unspecified) with 75 ignorant volunteers chosen at random from the population of the Province. Ask them to discuss everything but what is on the public’s mind, which is whether Video Lottery Terminals should be prohibited in the Province because of their social consequences in gambling addiction and crime. Use this as an excuse to prevent public debate on the whole situation. This way, it becomes easier for the Provincial Government to keep raising a half billion “voluntary tax” every year, on the backs of suckers who thought that, because VLTs were run under Government auspices, they were getting an even break. Game, set, and match to the Government.

It’s so simple, really. Delegate the problems that require hard answers to appointed bodies, like Health Authorities, who have no power to raise funds for the budgets they need. Emasculate the School Boards, by changing their areas in the name of ‘efficiency’, and removing their power to tax, or even plan what buildings and renovations they can undertake. Cut back Welfare, but forbid workers familiar with the field to make public what they know about the hardship that this causes. After all, what are food banks for? Before long, the Opposition in the Legislature will have been so bypassed that no one will have an interest in what it has to say any more. Indeed, the broad hint having been dropped that unless one is on the Government side, no governmental goodies will come your way, let it be known that it is folly not to support those in power, for reasons of sheer economic survival.

The history of great nations—the Athens and Rome of antiquity—is of a vibrant democracy coming after the expulsion of tyrants. Of that democracy being eroded as public apathy set in. Of tyranny being re-established, and as often as not, the state collapsing to foreign invasion, the citizens themselves having become uninterested in preserving their country. The new tyrant indeed, may well have been selected by the people at large, as Hitler was, or Mussolini, who “made the trains run on time”—or, perhaps, as in Alberta’s case, cut the Welfare rolls by half and paid down the Provincial debt (which never existed anyway, before the current party came into power).

Which gives me another useful acronym for our new social welfare policy – K.L.E.I.N.

“Kindly Liquidate Everyone In Need”.

– Gemini, May 1998