We can learn a lot about who politicians refer to as their "friends". In speeches & responses to questions, the people they choose to mention offer us insight into whose interests they're considering. (Thread) #ableg #COVID19AB
A few weeks ago, Premier Kenney talked about his encounter with a small business owner, who thanked him for his reluctance to lock down the economy.
In the same press conference, he mentioned his "friend" the ICU nurse. She was concerned about the health care system's capacity to withstand another surge of #COVID19AB cases.

A week later, Minister Shandro responded to questions about a province-wide mask mandate by saying, 'What am I supposed to tell the guy in Cold Lake?'
References to these personas is deliberate in many cases, subconscious in others. Ralph Klein talked a lot about "Martha and Henry", as has Premier Kenney. He's made a habit of stopping by their favourite restaurant, the Blackfoot Diner, throughout his time in Alberta.
But, as @KenBoessenkool pointed out recently, Martha & Henry are no longer the centre of Alberta's political universe. theline.substack.com/p/ken-boessenk…
According to our @cgroundpolitics research, people in this province see a much younger persona when they envision the "typical Albertan".
"Average Joe", as he's become known in many of our focus groups, is still white & male. But he's in his mid-30s & less set in his ways than Martha & Henry (his parents). He's libertarian (preferring to leave big decisions to families rather than governments).
But he's also more connected with the world outside his small-town community than Martha & Henry. He's developed relationships with people from other walks of life. And the outside world has entered his community & home in new ways.
We see this when we ask our participants to tell us how "Joe" would react to the opiod crisis. "Joe knows guys who are struggling with it," we're told. "He knows it's more than just personal responsibility. And he thinks government has a role in helping."
Which brings us to yesterday's remarks from @jkenney. As the headline below suggests, the premier is now referring to friends personally affected by COVID-19. "Talk to my friend in the ICU" has replaced "talk to my friend at the Blackfoot Diner."

This aligns with what we know about "Joe Albertan". Like many conservatives, Joe's capacity to understand & prioritize policy crises depends significantly on his proximity to them.

In plainspeak: "Joe Albertan" starts to care when his "friends" start showing up in the ICU. Deliberately or subconsciously, Premier Kenney has sensed a shift in Joe's feelings about the pandemic as case numbers, hospitalizations, and deaths continue to mount. #ableg
In our research, "Joe Albertan" personifies Alberta's political culture. When our participants tell us "Joe won't go for a PST" or "Joe's fine with a mask mandate", they're reflecting what they view as the boundaries of acceptable thought, expression, and behaviour in Alberta.
If it's a no-go for Joe, there's little point raising it.

Politicians, including Premier Kenney, operate in the same way.

If the Premier's remarks are any indication, Joe's reached the point where he's had enough with half-measures.
To put it poignantly, the Premier's "friend in the ICU" might well be Martha or Henry. And Average Joe wants us to act. Will the government? #ableg #covid19ab
For those struggling to picture Joe Albertan and his worldview, the UCP has a bio-pic n the works. Here's the trailer. #ableg
(The Party has abandoned earlier attempts at a rom-com featuring Joe the Comic.)

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More from @DrJaredWesley

4 Dec
How has the pandemic impacted the practice and study of politics in Canada?

Share your insights at a virtual workshop as part of the @cpsa_acsp Annual Conference. (Thread)

Part 1 will explore theoretical and empirical insights gleaned from early research on the pandemic, including studies of political behaviour, public administration, political theory, and other subfields. Completed studies and research designs are welcome.
Part 2 will delve into the impact of the pandemic on political science pedagogy, inviting participants to share lessons and promising practices in the areas of teaching and supervision. Empirical studies of different teaching methodologies (e.g., remote teaching) are welcome.
Read 6 tweets
22 Nov
(And to state the obvious: looking at Alberta through the eyes of Joe is wrought with issues intersectionality. It helps us understand why, for instance, the government fails to see the #shecession as a problem, let alone one worth solving.)
Or why they feel emboldened to hire curriculum advisors that seek to whitewash Alberta history, to create a War Room, to take on doctors & fill ICUs during a pandemic... Put simply: the UCP doesn't think Joe Albertan cares about those issues more than jobs and the economy. #ableg
The thing is: our research shows that Joe is not the median Albertan voter. Joe is who we think the average Albertan is. But he is not an aggregation of Albertan attitudes. He's a myth.
Read 8 tweets
22 Nov
A great question. I can offer a partial answer.

Governments are motivated by a host of factors, including their party's ideological principles, public opinion, and their sense of what the community will accept.

The latter is what many call "political culture." (Thread)
Political culture is the unspoken norms that guide politics in a particular community. These values define the boundaries of acceptability - of what's okay to say, think, or do.
In the case of pandemic response, political culture is embodied in our collective sense of "what Albertans will accept," whether it be mandatory masking, vaccination, or lockdowns.
Read 16 tweets
22 Nov
Many people are criticising Conservative governments in Canada for mishandling the pandemic.

Most cite these parties' ideological commitment to *conservatism* as their major failing.

This isn't entirely accurate or fair. (Thread)
Canada is home to several variants of conservatism. The two most pertinent to this conversation are old right toryism and new right neo-liberalism.
Toryism is a collectivist form of conservatism - one that views society as more than a sum of individuals. The term "social fabric" was coined by a tory (E. Burke) to capture this sentiment.
Read 10 tweets
21 Nov
Public servants are a humble lot, serving the community without asking for credit.

But the time will come when we'll need to tell their stories of sacrifice & selflessness during this pandemic.

My DMs are open. Tell me stories so I can share anonymously. #ableg #COVID19AB
"Was moved back into office in July so that GOA can lead by example on showing it’s safe with proper PPE, etc. We have Skype meetings now with people from other cubicles on the same floor but still have to go in when everyone on my floor can work from home. Pointless!"
"Have been working 6 days per week, 3 weeks out of each month for 8 months. No overtime pay. Forced to come into the office, even though I could work from home. Been denied vacation 3 times. And being told my boss wants my pay cut by 4%."
Read 11 tweets
27 Oct
Not quite. Here's a thread on the central position of "prosperity doctrine" in Alberta conservatism. #ableg
While those with a stronger sense of faith tend to be conservative, not all Alberta conservatives are Christians a smaller number yet could be considered highly religious.
Yet, it is a strain of Protestant Evangelism that has left an indelible mark on Alberta conservatism.
Read 17 tweets

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