The secret life of Nancy Betkowski

By Lawrence Bailey

Forget Nostradamus, William Shakespeare is the true prognosticator of times long ago. His character of Lady Macbeth was more than a simple literary creation, it was a glimpse forward to the current provincial election.

"That which hath made them drunk hath made me bold."

-Macbeth (Act 2 Scene 2 Line 1)

While Ralphie and his Conservative cohorts may be drunk on power (amongst other things), our very own Lady (Nancy) MacBeth (Betkowski in a Progressive Conservative past life) is plotting and scheming, trying to obtain that same corrupting toxin. After failing to ascend to the helm of her first party, the aforementioned PC’s, she displayed her blind thirst for control by switching parties, espousing new ideologies and sleeping with those who were her lifelong enemies.

Perhaps I’m being too harsh. Perhaps MacBeth had some glorious epiphany (à la Pam Barrett) upon losing Tory party leadership to Klein. That would explain her name change, her party change, her switching allegiances and her new-found devotion to Liberal ideology. The embarrassment of being shown up by the new kid on the block must have allowed her to step back and realize that the convictions she held were entirely misplaced and that after a long career as a Conservative politician, it was the Liberal Party that was her heart’s true home. Not likely.

This party flip-flop shows nothing more than blind ambition. It reinforces, in all its naked glory, the stereotype we’ve unfortunately come to accept of the power-hungry politician willing to say anything, do anything and be anyone if only he or she gets the chance to run the show. MacBeth champions herself as the defender of health care, a true crusader for impoverished and marginalized Albertans. This has been quite true since switching parties, leaving her post as Minister of Health with the Tories to be the Liberal lady in waiting. She immediately pummeled the political community with a plethora of literature on the glories of public health care and the irreversible damage being caused by that evil man, Ralph Klein, and his destructive Conservative Party.

Why this onslaught of public health propaganda? Perhaps to draw attention away from an episode in her not too distant past, to keep people from asking the question: who were the pioneers of such health care reforms in the province of Alberta?

If we take a closer look and dig a little deeper we realize the first appearance, in a legislative form, was Bill 5. The 1989 bill, which would have permitted the government to sell public hospitals to "any person or organization," was tabled by and fought for by then Health Minister Nancy Betkowski.

For those with short attention spans, Betkowski’s new name is MacBeth, her new position Liberal Party leader and her God-given quest is apparently to pick up where Tommy Douglas left off, saving the hallowed institution that is our
public health care system. Lady MacBeth of Shakespearean fame was power hungry, manipulative and driven. Things haven’t changed too much. Unwittingly playing into the hands of fate, our dear Nancy has a new name, one that was destined to find her, in a perfect example of life imitating art.

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