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.
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…