Whether it’s a Conservative or Liberal minority (or whatever shakes out of today’s federal election), you can be assured the result is a forecast for the end of Canada as it’s presently configured.
And in the treacherous road ahead (cum 22 October), it shall be self-evident that Albertans must be pilloried as heretics, deniers, convenient whipping boys/girls, whatever-label-you-can-muster in the name of progressive and ‘woke’ politics and, of course, ‘saving the planet’.
It’s happened before.
Trudeau (the elder) made it known through his deputy Marc Lalonde that Alberta must be kept in its place — the 1980s National Energy Program (NEP) — a reminder of who’s boss in confederation.
Provincial control of natural resources was settled in 1930. Yet the ‘national interest’ of three of the major parties (Liberals, NDP, Greens) has postured Alberta ought have zero control in the name of the ‘climate emergency’.
TIME TO CHANGE THE CHANNEL
With the Middle East in turmoil and shale oil depleting quicker than advertised in the United States, the oilsands may be back on America’s radar sooner than expected. But let that not be a distraction. Think the bigger picture. What really matters — sooner than later — is not so much Canada’s petroleum resource, but something far more valuable in the world.
A changing climate (and, yes, it is indeed changing) will make western Canada more attractive to millions of migrants should the ‘prophets of panic’ be correct in their worst-case scenarios. However, it doesn’t take a murky crystal ball to project that access to clean water will be the number one priority for citizens of earth, and especially peoples living in a parched and bone dry southwestern United States, California inclusive.
Most Albertans think of themselves as “Canadians First,” a sentiment echoed by fellow Westerners.
Imagine what will happen to Alberta’s jurisdiction when water resources are corralled by Ottawa in the ‘national interest’. A generation ago, the same logic led to the National Energy Program (NEP). Alberta’s premier at the time Peter Lougheed bitterly accepted the trampling of the province’s right to economic self-determination. His counterpart in Quebec René Lévesque, meantime, put his foot down. For one, he didn’t sign-off on the repatriation of Canada’s constitution. “A la prochaine,” he said, on the eve of the first failed referendum — until the next time. And subsequent Quebec premiers have brilliantly played Ottawa to the benefit of la belle province.
Quebec’s been re-confederating Canada for decades. The second referendum was rejected (narrowly) by Quebecers in 1995. Yet in a surreal twist, it could be said Quebec won over Canada by losing.
Back then, Quebec could have gone it alone (thanks to then premier Jacques Parizeau’s genius with finance). They could go it alone today in a formal sovereignty association (which is informal at the moment). In other words, Parizeau accomplished what René Lévesque set out to do. Friendly with Canada, for sure eh… like Switzerland is friendly with Europe.
Alberta’s best bet is to have a Parizeau Moment.
Like a dysfunctional marriage, Canada no longer works for Alberta and The West (taken to mean the prairie provinces, and the bits of B.C. where people live and work outside of the Lower Mainland & Victoria).
And if there’s a thing or two to learn from Quebec, it’s to behave like the Bloc Quebecois — back from the dead in this election cycle — the self-interests of the province trumping federal jurisdiction, regardless of the ‘national interest’.
Twice within a generation, Alberta has been skunked by Ottawa. The first time: the NEP triggered Peter Lougheed’s threat to turn down the taps on oil and gas exports to eastern Canada. Alberta didn’t make good on the threat. Lougheed understood legally, he couldn’t win the day. But he and his able deputy Merv Leitch ensured that Alberta would have another round with the feds — a la prochaine.
Lougheed anticipated how water, and the diversion of water resources in Alberta would be another irresistible asset (insofar as the oilsands have been identified in the “strategic interest” of the United States of America). The building of the Dickson Dam in 1983, west of Red Deer, and later the Old Man River dam; the focus on irrigation districts in southern Alberta; his concerns with large-scale hydro-electric dams in the north, all spoke to a deeply-rooted understanding of the inter-connections of water use and rights, in the immediate future and over the next generations.
What would Lougheed think about the construction of Site C Dam on the Peace River in British Columbia, a short distance from the Alberta-B.C. border? As a provincial leader, would he have intervened (as Francois Legault has in Quebec, putting the kibosh on Energy East)?
What would Lougheed do with the opportunities climate change offers Alberta — indeed to all of Canada — with Arctic ice melting, a year round sea route in play, and The North opening up for development?
And what would he have made of Confederation partners that take, take, take and return little more than lip service to The West and smarm about saving the planet?
OUR FIGHT IS YOUR FIGHT?
Well Canada — is it?
None of the federal parties seem to give a damn about Alberta. Even the Conservatives have taken the province for granted. And that’s been duly noted in the federal election campaign of 2019.
Talk in some quarters of the province is boiling over. Secession is a ‘thing’ and it should be taken seriously. It’s also smart to know constraint inspires creativity in Alberta. The Depression years brought about Social Credit, and a new way of doing political business on the prairie. And with history as a guide, Albertans have the means & resources to look at the map and see a future with a very different Canada in it (which we will discuss in a future post).
This is where you come in.
QUESTION: If the natural resource at stake in Confederation was water (and not oil), would you be more willing to sit down to understand what’s behind this growing sense of Western alienation?
And if not, why not?