Newspapers and politicians around Calgary have been commenting over the past week about a recent website by the Nova Scotia government, "Delusional Calgaria". The website uses a humorous approach to gain attention to a common occurrence: Nova Scotians leaving home for work elsewhere — and the need to get them back. The website also features a mock-intervention — but touches on subjects that are quite true, such as: the cost of living, the long commute, the dense population, the high cost of housing, the length of work day, the competitive waiting lists to buy property or build homes, the rising division between elite upper class and those struggling to catch up, or simply "the rat race" — I could go on. Those of us who have moved from the east know these issues all too well.
The response from long-time Calgarians? The mayor of Calgary was quoted on CBC saying ""I look at these ads and say: ‘You know, this is the government of Nova
Scotia’s attempt to say that there’s something happening in Nova
Scotia, too.’ I’m just not sure what." Another provincial politician talks about being unapologetic for luring people to higher salaries. However, to an outsider, it’s hard not to notice that the so-called ‘advantages’ that bring people to an area are all materialistic. Are higher salaries the be-all-end-all? I think not. Comments voiced recently by Albertan politicians are indicative of an attitude that is all-too-common around Alberta — that the eastern lifestyle is somehow a lower class than what is lived by Albertans. I find these comments to be a similar harkback to the ‘culture of defeatism’ comment by a now-prominent federal politician. I was glad to see that the Nova Scotia ad, although humorous in its intent, still focused on a non-material consideration for the east lifestyle, namely: family. Perhaps the newspapers and politicians are simply confirming what we already think of Alberta.
The perceptions of the East Coast are also somewhat based upon the negative news stories that historically have focused on the loss of jobs (i.e., mining, fishery) and recently, those who leave their family and home for work. Yes, there are many stories about people who leave for work — particularly in Newfoundland. But where are the stories of those maritimers who are successful where they’re living? What about the stories from "expats" who return for a better life? What about the news stories on ‘Albertans’ who are moving to the East for a change? These certainly wouldn’t make the news in Calgary. There are more examples than you’d think.
Anyway, I thought the ad was great. It certainly pokes fun at the lifestyle that is promoted by all the recruiting campaigns for jobs in Alberta. The ad also serves hopefully to warn others that things are not exactly what they seem when you’re making the decision to move. There are always positive and negatives, but its up to each person to decide whether they outweigh each other when choosing a life away from home.