Dead in the water…

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’. 


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. 

IMG_1615Imagine 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.

IMG_1417Lougheed 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)? 

iceberg-arctic-oceanWhat 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? 


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? 

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

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One thought on “Dead in the water…

  1. You are right about this, Nice doesn’t cut it. Where Trudeau Sr. said F*** It, Trudeau Jr. blew a pile trying to curry favor with a pipeline to little result and universal disdain. Having said that, at least he tried, and may yet make some small but expensive dent in that problem.

    As it was all of Canada’s tax money that was committed we can all give him the finger for poor investment acumen.

    The challenge in Alberta has been brewing for a long time as the concentration on a single economic sector that is in decline is leaving much pain and dislocation. Don’t take my word for it.

    Having been born, raised, and conducted my entire business career in Alberta, I believe that I am entitled to say to all Albertans, what is the kvetching about? I have lived through three oil booms and three oil busts. That’s life, get over it, its not personal and the rest of the world does not hate Albertans.

    What I consider terminally stupid is throwing 4.5 Billion at buying a decrepit pipeline asset instead of using that capital to diversify the Alberta economy. The smart money has been bailing on the oil economy for very good reasons. This will be neither simple or painless, but fossil fuels are a dead dinosaur in more ways than one, and the sooner this is accepted and acted on the better. Why do you think that the Saudi’s are trying to take their business the the public markets and diversify their economy. Wake up Folks!!!!

    If you think water is going to solve the problem you only have to look at the shrinking glacier that is Calgary’s water supply. Climate change is the reality that means not only is oil a dead duck but a lot of other economic sectors are going to be profoundly affected as well.

    To the sector of whining climate deniers led by the jackass by the name of Kenney, and the moronic leaders of the CONservatives attempting to whip up dissension over the the Rest of Canada ignoring the West, a pox on your house.

    Lets get moving on the changes that MUST be dealt with. Recognize that climate issues are profound and inevitable, and retool and reequip our economy to reflect those realities. And oh yeah quit the whining its not productive.

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