IT WAS CENTENNIAL YEAR when Jacques Parizeau had an epiphany.
Travelling by transcontinental train from Montreal to Banff in 1967, the future Quebec premier and leader of the Parti Quebecois realized the country was unworkable.
“He got on board as a federalist,” a former colleague said, catching the train from the central station in Montreal, the birthplace of the Canadian Pacific Railway (which made Canada possible in the first place).
Ironically, Parizeau had accepted an invitation to speak on the success of federalism. He hadn’t written the speech. The three-day train trip gave him time to reflect and put words to paper.
By the time he arrived in the shadow of the Rockies and the Banff train depot, he was of the view that Canada was not sustainable. It was a political contrivance that was doomed. And right then and there, the architect of Quebec’s financial system – with a separate pension plan and monetary clout to invest abroad – created the economy for an independent Quebec, to exist in association with the rest of Canada.
WHY CANADA IS DOOMED #1
The United We Roll Convoy for Canada was a test.
When tractor-trailer sized loads of deeply-rooted frustration from the West landed on Parliament Hill’s doorstep, the prime minister didn’t bother to acknowledge the truckers arrival let alone their concerns (although Justin Trudeau eventually came around days later with froth & fluff when it was clear the convoy wasn’t going away).
Mainstream media coverage was mostly perplexed, and social media downright hostile (CBC Ottawa, for instance, ignored the raison d’être for the convoy, offering tips to angry limo drivers on how to dodge snarled traffic in the nation’s capitol).
And like Parizeau’s journey to Banff with a startling realization that the country doesn’t work and is likely doomed, should Albertans prepare a different vision for our place in Canada?
We think so.
WHY CANADA IS DOOMED #2
There is no question the province of Quebec is a ‘distinct society’, the Quiet Revolution during the 1960s had seen to that in every sense of the word culture.
Think of Quebec in Canada like Switzerland does in its association with continental Europe, at arms-length from the European Union. Separate but connected. And when a situation benefits Switzerland, they’re in.
The Swiss are picky. While the rest of the EU had to absorb migrant refugees, Switzerland would have nothing to do with the resettlement scheme.
Quebec chooses its immigrants (and cares less what the rest of Canada thinks about their choice). The province has it’s own legal system and jurisprudence based on the Napoleonic Code. The Quebec Pension Plan (co-created by Parizeau) is controlled by the province. Canada can’t touch it. And it’s a huge pile of money the province uses to invest around the world. Quebec is an international financier. Quebec also regularly gets federal handouts in the form of equalization payments (heavily subsidized by Albertans).
Quebec is a smart cookie. As a ‘nation’ they know who they are. They are very adroit at playing The Canada Game to their distinct advantage.
As Albertans, we also know who we are. Not fools, for one.
WHY CANADA IS DOOMED #3
The history of Norway is instructive.
It’s a large country with a small population and enormous petroleum resources.
When Norwegians were asked to join the European Union, two plebiscites on the question were decisive. Norway said no thanks. Their memory of a prior association with a distant and insensitive government was a Parizeau Moment.
In 1905, Norway gained its independence from Sweden, the same year Alberta & Saskatchewan became provinces in confederation.
Norway aggressively exploits its petroleum resources. It makes no apology for what the country does, nor does it care much about what non-local ‘climate change’ activists have to say.
Norwegians enjoy a respectful association with the European Union, and when it suits them, it’s a mutually-beneficial relationship.
Norway has never shared its trillion dollar sovereign wealth fund with others. And it’s not going to start anytime soon. The Norwegians learned how to save their money from petroleum riches by copying Alberta’s Heritage Trust Fund.
Imagine if Alberta had been a sovereign nation and was able to keep everything we earned from petroleum royalties. How much would our savings fund be worth today?
If you’re beginning to think the cost of keeping the The Canada Game going is too high, then you would be thinking like we do. And perhaps Alberta and Saskatchewan should join forces to be the Norway in Canada.
WHY CANADA IS DOOMED #4
Jacques Parizeau was pragmatic.
He understood what was plain as day by looking out the window of his train car. And he did something about it.
Pragmatism leads us to the beginnings of a discussion that urgently needs to be had now.
Canadians need to wake up to the truth that our country doesn’t work anymore, not as our founders envisioned. It’s badly governed (the recent Liberal scandal and shocking testimony from the former justice minister Jody Wilson-Raybould is proof enough). And it’s not because we want to be out of the country — to secede like Quebec has tried to do — but rather how we can rescue regions of Canada from neglect.
This will make for an unexpected journey.
WHY CANADA IS DOOMED #5
Rapid-fire political movements are upending status quo governance around the world. And conditions are ripe for the same to happen here.
We tried The West Wants In, a powerful rallying cry which founded the Reform movement. A mixed success as history will record. Yes, it created the conditions for a Conservative prime minister from Calgary to lead the House of Commons, but only because the federal Liberals had become so corrupt and couldn’t keep their Quebec get-liberals-elected-block-no-matter-what card in play.
It’s time for something completely different.
George Soros speaks of an illiberal movement in Europe. He makes it sound like a negative thing, but it’s a matter of perspective.
What Norway learned from Alberta — how to manage your own financial affairs, look after your own people, in your own region, to the benefit of your neighbours (if only to keep the peace) — Alberta needs to learn from Norway.
What the Bloc Quebecois has been able to accomplish in a political generation is also worth emulating. By completely concerning itself with and behaving in the interests of Quebec, the province enjoys a substantive advantage in confederation.
It’s an interesting political strategy, but it comes with a terrible risk. Canada is not vaccinated to resist bad government and arrogant leadership. No country is, anymore.
We owe it to ourselves to give the idea of Canada one last shot.
WHY CANADA IS DOOMED #6
Canada is huge.
That our ancestors were able to weave together stories of First Nations, French & English founders and flagship too-big-to-fail enterprises like the Hudson’s Bay Company into a nation capable of making immigrants and foreign investment feel at home, well… it’s a miracle given the history of the world.
Our current prime minister disagrees with these stories.
In an exclusive interview with the New York Times, Justin Trudeau said since “there is no core identity, no mainstream in Canada,” we are no longer a country with a shared vision, so it follows we must be the first post-nation nation state. That was in 2015. And given how the country has floundered since his astonishing statement, we unfortunately find ourselves in agreement with the prime minister in 2019.
We must do confederation better if Canada is to survive.
And if only to have a regional political party on par with the clout of Quebec, we envision a movement that transcends partisanship of the current choices playing with prairie fire.
A movement that doesn’t merely unite the right or left, but all of The West.
And that means our West: Alberta, Saskatchewan, the parts of Manitoba and British Columbia that share the same core values, the same identity, the same smarts that our current prime minister utterly lacks, in his pandering to voters that he stands to lose in Quebec and the Lower Mainland of BC.
WHY CANADA IS DOOMED #7
If you love Canada, as much as we do, please look North.
It is where the biggest play for natural resources in the world is playing out. And with a year round open seaway, ‘climate change’ will trigger a mass migration of people into the region.
Already Russia with its eleven time zones abutting the Arctic Ocean is gearing up for the future. Ditto for our ‘friend’ the United States, which has declared the entire region in it’s ‘strategic interest‘.
It is worth recalling that the Dominion of Canada was created in 1867 because Canadians didn’t want to be Americans. The War of 1812 was still fresh in everyone’s mind.
We shall collectively lose sovereignty of the North, if we don’t get our act together quickly.
MAITRE CHEZ NOUS
And now — especially if you are having a Parizeau Moment — it’s pragmatic to think seriously about forming a West Block.
What shall it be oui, or we?
We’ll have more to say in a week or two…
27 thoughts on “Seven reasons why Canada is doomed…”
“As Albertans, we also know who we are. Not fools, for one.”
Thank you for so poignantly articulating the dysfunctional essence of our identity as ‘Albertans’.
We seem to identify ourselves by what we believe we are *not*, despite all factual evidence to the contrary.
Here are some demonstrable realities of what it means to be ‘Albertan’ today.
– principally concerned with what we want the world and the future to have, instead of what they actually need.
– deeply misguided about the profitability of shipping our heavy oil to Asia (because we want them to have it), which will typically earn our producers $5 per barrel LESS than if they shipped to the U.S. (where it is actually needed).
– largely unwilling to look in the mirror and hold ourselves to account for unpleasant realities of today’s Alberta, including our rapidly growing vulnerability to economic and environmental change and our hundreds of $billions of unfunded infrastructure and environmental liabilities that we will be handing down to future generations.
– governing ourselves like it is still the 1970s.
– largely delusional about our present and future importance to Canada and the rest of the world.
– largely oblivious to how the rest of Canada and the rest of the world is coming to identify us, which is:
– among the most privileged and fortunate people in all of human history.
– among the most spoiled, complacent and self-entitled people on the planet today.
– under the unseemly delusion that we are entitled to unique power and privilege, on the premise of being uniquely gifted and fortunate (humble we aren’t).
If we Albertans properly understood and accepted the reality of our good fortune and were genuinely grateful for it, how would anyone know?
I have posed this simple question to Albertans dozens of times over the last few years, by way of a multitude of social media platforms like this one.
Nobody has ever responded… not one person.
I can only conclude that most of us have no clear sense of just how incredibly lucky we are.
So how can we be grateful for it.
If this doesn’t give concrete meaning to the word ‘fool’, I don’t know what does.
The rest of the world sees us more accurately than we see ourselves, even those who fail to recognize their own remarkable good fortune.
This includes most Canadians outside of Alberta, indigenous Canadians notwithstanding.
If anyone believes that ‘Albertan’ means something radically or at least substantively different from what I’ve described above, I am genuinely interested to know what that something is (PLEASE).
I am especially interested to know what Alberta’s youth and children believe it means to be Albertan, and I strongly encourage older Albertans to engage them with this question.
Just don’t be surprised to hear something you didn’t expect, or that you didn’t want to hear.
James, what are you smoking? Seriously.
This is your rebuttal?
Maybe try again after you’ve asked your grandchildren what it means to be Albertan, and what they want it to mean.
I agree with you James….there’s a strange inability in a lot of Albertans to shake off an attitude of deep-seated anger, hence no gratitude…….ir’s like a habit, an “I’m a victim” habit……perhaps because to settle here in the west, 150 years ago, was such back-breaking work by people who were so distraught by their histories in Europe, that a habit of narrow and negative thinking continues to blind them.
Thanks for a helpful contribution Krysia.
I wonder if you are reaching for the word ‘defiance’.
It seems to be a common attitude and reaction amongst Albertans, especially rural Albertans.
Defiance is typically rooted in perceptions or expectations of persecution or victimization.
I believe United We Roll is an expression of such defiance, in response to perceived victimization at the hands of (scapegoat name).
To your point, many early settlers in western Canada fled persecution in their eastern European homelands.
It seems absurd to me, but…
I’m now wondering if we are dealing with a condition of arrested cultural development, in which real historical persecution is shaping perceptions and expectations of the present and future by way of persistent identities and narratives that people continue to associate themselves with.
‘I am (some identity), therefore I am at risk of persecution or victimization by (some other identity).’
Does this relate to what you mean by the word ‘habit’?
James, hmmmm. Me thinks you’re party to the self-help group called ‘self loathing’. A cursory review of your action plan for Alberta reminds me of Made-in-Californian nonsense (which extends to bringing in Richard Branson to show the great unwashed how to behave with ‘energy’). So, once again: what have you been smoking, James? Take your time. The dispensaries are mostly closed, I hear.
That same Prairie defiance gave Canada the Famous Five, Winnipeg General Strike, Tommy Douglas and the CCF, the Riel Rebellion, Social Credit, the Reform Party and many more populist uprisings that challenged the prevailing order.
You look at the West and see ungrateful whiners outraged over nothing much.
However history suggests restless Prairie people are powerful agents of change, often sparking political and social movements that have shaped Canada’s history.
All this talk of “defiance” reeks of a colonialist perspective. Are you suggesting that Albertans should just shut up and know their place?
Defiance and resistance in the face of genuine persecution and victimization are entirely legitimate and honourable, and no respectable person would find fault with it.
But here’s the thing.
No matter how much we want to believe otherwise, we Albertans have nobody to blame but ourselves for the economic challenges we now face, despite the unparalleled economic wealth we have inherited and created.
Nobody has had a bigger stake in building Canada’s pipeline capacity than Albertans.
We had a pro-industry conservative provincial government for 44 years, which neglected or failed to expand pipeline capacity to western tidewater.
We even had a pro-industry, pro-Alberta conservative federal government for the last ten of those years, and we still failed to expand pipeline capacity to western tidewater.
Nobody has had a bigger stake in mitigating the economic risks of Alberta’s oil and gas dependency than Albertans.
We have lived through (how many?) boom-bust cycles, and our economy still gets hammered in the downturns.
We had the wisdom in the 1970s to start socking away energy royalties for a day when – not if – the sun started setting on our oil and gas industry (that day has come).
Our government stopped investing those royalties and started using them to pay for our public services, and we did nothing to stop them – we re-elected them, and took those Ralph Bucks.
Every other province has had a retail sales tax for at least half a century.
There has never been anything stopping Albertans from implementing their own sales tax, and a Socred government even managed to implement a 2% tax in 1936 only to repeal it the following year.
I could list many of the other things we could have done to mitigate or prevent the economic challenge we now face, and some things we tried that didn’t pan out for lack of long-term vision and commitment.
I have lived my entire life in Alberta, coming of age at the height of the Lougheed Era.
Politically speaking, Alberta no longer bears any meaningful resemblance to the Alberta of my youth.
We have been neglecting and squandering Lougheed’s admirable political legacy for more than three decades now, and we have NOBODY to blame but ourselves.
We do not have a problem with being victimized by *anyone*, other than ourselves.
Our real problem is our unwillingness to hold ourselves and each other to account, and it seems clear that for many of us, ‘freedom’ has come to mean freedom *from* accountability.
Few politicians came to understand this better than Jim Prentice, an honourable man who blew up his political career when he challenged Albertans to ‘look in the mirror’.
Well. We’re not alone in our thinking. https://nationalpost.com/news/canada/a-new-poll-suggests-alberta-is-the-province-that-most-wants-to-separate-from-canada-not-quebec
How very sad for Alberta.
FWIW, I now struggle to find any meaningful connection between the name of your blog and the contents of your blog.
Not really, James. Had you been paying attention to the enterprise (instead of pontificating mindless trash about how-things-ought-to-be) you might have noted what was happening on the ground you stand on. Call it ‘political climate’ change. The grandchildren’s parents are the pointy part of the spear. Kindly READ the post that’s above this comment thread (it’s evident you haven’t from the tone deafness of your scribble).
James, we will answer your question about the blog’s name in a few weeks. Rest easy.
Well that’s just it, James. You don’t seem to ‘get’ why people are so upset with dysfunctional evangelists and fellow travellers tearing the country apart in the name of ‘progress’. Stay tuned!
You must be reading our posts eh? https://www.linkedin.com/company/western-canada-unite
the Status Quo stinks and always has. I was deeply hoping that the French were gung ho to do their own thing and the collapse of that effort was very sad for me personally. The gift of $11 billion taken from the rest of the country (so called “equilisation”) to Montreal so that the French can get day care for their kids for $7.00 a day rankles like Hell.
Interesting stuff above and very well written. I think that it will be very difficult to arouse the energy to get the majority of the voters to try something similar but I would be inclined to vote for the West to go on its own.
Thanks for all your passion and effort.
Best regards, Jonathan Young
Let me lay it out in words you can understand, the person who wrote this article just blamed quebec for the stupidity of the lawmakers, legal system and political embarrassment in this country. It’s a system reform globally or at least HERE… or just stop complaining like you even deserve to live yourself. They said the truth hurts but I guess only I realized the actual truth. What a world.
I agree with James view of Albertans identity. From my own observations, we are a pretty selfish and wasteful lot of people when you the way people live in Calgary and Edmonton, the two biggest cities. In consuming our media, some of our academia, there is a sense that this current problem is the fault of environmentalists, celebrities like Neil Young, Jane Fonda, Richard Branson, Quebec, the federal government, and others. We never want to consider what the author points out when it comes to Norway in terms of their version of the Heritage Fund nor to do we want to change the ways we do things like expand the LRT, and make the changes necessary to deal with climate change. The slogan that appeared a while ago on a bumper sticker asking God to give us another oil boom in a promise not to waste it pretty much sums up my sentiment when it comes to our predicament. I think it is high time we realize that we have met the enemy and it is us.
You need to leave Alberta and you need to leave now before it’s too late!!
There is no point in trying to do what the article says and create a “parti quebecois” like party for Alberta.
That would take time and years of political battles and your time to leave Canada is running out.
Ottawa, Ontario and Quebec are incapable of cutting off the transfer payments due to debt and a majority retireing population and not enough young people to keep Canada afloat.
The plan by both mainstream Liberal and Conservative party’s is to bring in around 30 million immigrants in 20 years to replace you in an desperate attempt to keep Canada going financially.
If you don’t give up this patience with Ottawa and leave Canada soon, they are definitely going to send more new arrivals to your province and you can kiss the idea of separation goodbye.
I just wanted to correct a typing error and say that I meant to say that it’s over the next 20 years that Ottawa plans to bring in 30 million immigrants, not in 20 years!! So it’s really urgent that Alberta not waste time and separate from Canada soon.
Well I respectfully disagree with this point of view. I seriously that my problems as someone is a regular working Joe, I don’t think that the problems that I have articulated here will be resolved by separation. We might want to take a page from Francois Legault when it comes to putting these ideas on the back burner until they resolve our issues. We might want to wait until the economy improves.
The federal government is not going to stop the transfer payments. They won’t even touch the issue.
If they tried, they would get every angry Ontario baby boomer promising to vote them out and Quebec that’s only paid to remain a part of country.
Alberta leaves or it never leaves.
Canada is facing a demographic crisis and it can’t be reversed.
The only two options are separate from Canada and join the United States or import 30 million more immigrants over the next 20 years and hope for the best.
The United States has guaranteed Canada’s protection and economic existence through the bread and butter system founded by the Americans after WW2 but the American led and guaranteed world order is collapsing and the Americans no longer have a need to prop it up anymore and Trump or no Trump, this reality is not going away. There simply is not enough young Canadians to keep Canada afloat anymore and too many older Canadians retireing. Canadians really need to start to come to grips with this new reality soon. The writing is on the wall.
Just for the record, the Fair Deal Panel report was filed weeks ago, not a few days ago as inaccurately reported by Climenhage who failed to check his facts. We’re straight shooters; just ask for the facts.
I will let David C speak for himself on this one, but my feelings still likely won’t change when it comes to the Fair Deal Panel or the complaints that surround the whole Wexit campaign.