It’s always kind of sad when a great streak comes to an end and last week we saw one heck of a run come to a screeching, crashing halt.
Even though it’s rather impossible to fully substantiate, Alberta has prided itself on being “rat-free” since 1959. When the Prairie Provinces started seeing an explosion in the Norway rat in the ’40s and ’50s, the provincial government sprang into action, forming the Rat Patrol, which courageously defended our eastern border for 53 years. That is, until well over 60 rats were found holding court in the Medicine Hat dump.
Rat gross-out heebie jeebies aside, the end of Alberta’s so called rat-free status made me realize that our province seems to pride itself on always being “free” of something and, sadly, the bulk of those statues are coming to an end faster than a Medicine Hat rat.
Remember King Ralph’s big “Debt Free” Stampede pancake breakfast declaration? As it was the most grandiose boast, it was also the fastest streak to end, right before a tanking economy and steady Eddie drove us back into the red.
And while Alberta has managed to keep the province PST free, one wonders how long our greatest claim to fame will stick around. Particularly amidst rumors that Premier Redford has refused to rule out an end to that streak as well.
It makes me wonder what new streaks and boasts Alberta can have in the meantime. Here’s a few I’ve come up with:
1) Terrorism-Free Since 1905. Seriously, there has never, ever been a terrorist act perpetrated on Alberta soil. Take THAT Quebec!
2) Coastline-Free since forever. We don’t have to worry about earthquakes, typhoons, shark attacks, tanker spills or long spells of horrible coastal weather. Forget the East Coast, forget the West Coast. NO COAST is where it’s at.
3) Prohibition-Free since 1924. EAT IT temperance movement!
Alright, admittedly that’s a really weak list. So maybe we need to work at some things to brag about. How about “high school dropout free” or “smoke free” or “intolerance free”? Lofty ambitions to be sure, but so are the concepts of being tax-free, rat-free and debt-free. Or maybe we can just focus on keeping Alberta free for all people to pursue their pastimes, ambitions and lives.