From the Edmonton Press:
On March 4, according to the official records of the Alberta legislature, NDP leader Brian Mason said that "Stalin would be proud" of the government’s bill giving it power to freeze land development. As a result, in the final days of the sitting, Premier Ed Stelmach understandably complained how hurtful such words were.
Now, this comparison would be unacceptable in any decent politics, no matter who was in government. Stalin expropriated land, shipped owners off to freeze to death in the gulag, and starved out millions to make sure his collectivization produced enough food for the cities. It is every bit as absurd to suggest the government’s bid to preserve utility corridors is similar to Stalin’s land policies, as it is to compare occasional high-handed behaviour to that of Adolf Hitler. For the record, Stalin wouldn’t have been "proud" of Alberta’s government; he’d have laughed evilly at the absurd suggestion before having the person who made it taken out and shot.
But in Alberta, the inappropriateness of Mason’s language is even worse because it is also insensitive to the man who runs the government, a man of Ukrainian heritage for whom the terrible "Holodomor" is a profoundly personal matter.
Ed Stelmach is a very easy target in Alberta politics, being the first Ukrainian-Canadian to lead the province even though winning by a landslide vote. While showing strong Ukrainian roots even though he’s second generation Canadian (his grandparents immigrated here in 1898 from Zavyche in Western Ukraine) – the press has constantly tried to make him less Canadian. He’s constantly referred to as a ‘Ukrainian cowboy’ where ‘English isn’t even his first language’ despite being born and raised in Alberta, and ‘attends an Orthodox church’ even though he’s Ukrainian Catholic.
It only took a entire month for Mason to get around to apologizing insincerely for his remarks, but given the almost 300,000 Canadians of Ukrainian descent in Alberta – was this really just a ‘cliche slur’, or more Anglo hatred of Ukrainians in the prairies that has been going for over a century?