NOT a Time to be Flippant about National Unity

NATIONAL UNITY is not under threat in Alberta proclaims Justin Trudeau.

Nothing to see here but loyal Canucks, the Prime Minister surmised during his recent stopover in Calgary and the Stampede.

The Prime Minister wants you to believe talk of Alberta cessation (a ‘thing’ in the province these days according to pollsters) is nothing but a partisan ruse!

Never mind that Trudeau (the younger) declared Canada a post nation nation-state shortly after taking office in 2015.

The Prime Minister flipping pancakes at the Calgary Stampede 2019

We hope the PM’s current analysis is correct, but flipping a pancake to see how the chips will land on national unity in this territory is, well…



Do most Albertans want to be American? Not really, no.

Do most Albertans want to be Canadian? Yes, but…

Do most Albertans want to be Albertan? Yes!

Our great challenge in The West is figuring out how to reconcile the latter two identities.


Peter Lougheed, the last Alberta premier to really tangle with a Trudeau was a Canada First guy. 

Jacques Parizeau, the Quebec premier (and in many respects, like Lougheed, a pragmatist) understood Canada quite differently.

Parizeau was a key player in The Quiet Revolution, co-founding the Quebec Pension Plan and with it the powerful institutional investor Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec. Yes  — a money guy and political smartee, who, in 1967, Canada’s centennial year, was invited to give a talk in Banff about the success of Canada’s confederation (sic!).

He took a passenger train across our fair dominion, boarding in Montreal the birthplace of the Canadian Pacific Railway. By the time he got to Banff, he realized that Canada was a false front — simply put, a contrivance. And it was bound to fail, sooner or later. Needless to say, the speech he gave was not the one he set out to give.

And it was later in the 1970s, when Quebec artists, thinkers, politicians and business looked toward France for inspiration and were rebuffed, Parizeau and his confreres realized they weren’t French per se. They were first and foremost Quebecers.

Just like Quebeckers are not French, Albertans’ mother-ship is not America.

It’s utter fantasy to believe Alberta could leave Canada and have influence as an American state.

Lougheed campaign 1965

There’s a fancy word that accurately describes the state we’re in: liminal “between or belonging to two different places.”

And like the word, Alberta is between stories. We have to come together to figure out our new story.

Peter Lougheed wasn’t wrong a generation ago to think and proclaim I’m Canadian first. And an Albertan second.

Given the tone-deaf utterances from the Prime Minister and his cohort, should anyone be surprised if priorities shift to Albertan first, Canadian second?

We’re not being flippant.

We take no pleasure in reporting these sentiments.

And if we — we Albertans — knew our political history, our story, we would know exactly what to do right now.

[This column is the consensus opinion of the writers Donna Kennedy-Glans & Don Hill]

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