Dave Rutherford is a longtime broadcast journalist and commentator in Calgary.
What are you up to?
Rutherford: It’s been four years since I was on the radio full time and I’m not going to lie, it has been a difficult transition into retirement.
A year or so after leaving the airwaves, the NDP was elected in Alberta and I was so worried about our province’s future that I got involved in a political action committee to energize the common-sense vote in the province and unite the two conservative-minded parties. It turned out very well and the UCP was formed and Jason Kenney became the premier.
I’m just as worried about the federal scene and I will get involved a bit but I’m getting better at retirement, too. One of the things I’m doing is a YouTube show called The Dave and Jay Show with former MP Jay Hill. We’re covering major issues leading up to the federal election.
You have a good sense of the pulse of the community. How are Calgarians feeling about life in general and business in particular?
Rutherford: Calgarians are stressed of course but I think generally we are grudgingly optimistic about the future. It’s kind of in our DNA. This is especially true of small business. We’ve been through a lot of boom-and-bust cycles in this province but I’m worried that this bust is different.
The Alberta UCP has to clean up the financial mess left by the NDP, which is going to be painful, and we have to beat down the roadblocks to success for our energy industry, which has a lot to do with the carbon-tax-happy, anti-oil Trudeau government. That could end in the next federal election on Oct. 21.
So business is still being done in this city, we’re not at a standstill, but the slow economy, carbon taxes, minimum wage increases and property tax hikes are really taking a toll on the bottom line.
What’s the biggest complaint you hear about government – whatever level it is?
Rutherford: The most complaints I hear about government these days are about Justin Trudeau’s Liberals. The hypocrisy, the arrogance, the virtue signalling and the blatant lack of respect for the law by the Trudeau government are on the minds of a lot of Albertans.
Now that the socialists have been removed from power in Alberta, the focus is on the federal election this fall.
Overall, though I think Albertans and Canadians are tiring of the politics of today because of the cheap tactics of trying to create social division where none exists, the character attacks and the lies. That might not be new to politics but today everything is accelerated and magnified by social media to the point that decisions by potential voters are made quickly based on popularity, not on issues and leadership. That concerns me.
Who do you think is going to be the next mayor of Calgary?
Rutherford: I really don’t know who our next mayor will be but I can tell you who will not be the mayor next time around, his Purpleness. I for one have tired of the haughty, pompous, I’m-the-smartest-guy-in-the-room, finger-wagging mayor.
He has been vulnerable on the city’s tax-and-spend record but he escaped accountability because of the flood. He was a good cheerleader.
Then he escaped again in the next election because of a poor opposition campaign.
The vote about whether we should host another Winter Olympics was a referendum on Naheed Nenshi’s record and he lost. He doesn’t have much to cheer about now.
How important is the upcoming federal election to the future of Alberta?
Rutherford: This federal election is in my view one of the most pivotal in our history. The Trudeau Liberals have shown us what they care about – it’s not us or our way of life or our industries – and four more years of them will devastate our country both financially and socially.
Canada is to me a failing experiment, we are not one nation with a common purpose. By the nature of our Constitution we are a country of powerful forces fighting each other.
The provinces are responsible for many things – like resources, health care, education and immigration – but most don’t challenge the federal government when it sabotages them on these issues because Ottawa has all of our tax money to spend on supporters.
Alberta is going to be the first to stand up to this flawed system. Premier Kenney has promised a referendum on equalization, the policy by which we send billions of dollars to others who complain about us constantly. I think that referendum will actually be a referendum on Canada, and whether Alberta will separate from this faltering experiment.
Independence for Alberta is on the lips of many people I encounter so watch for this conversation to really rev up if the Trudeau Liberals are returned to power.
Interviewed by Mario Toneguzzi, a Troy Media business reporter based in Calgary.