Our oldest grandson is 24 and has finished his education as a journeyman electrician, and now plans to become an electrical engineer. He’s had a considerable amount of experience, but I doubt that he’s one bit better at negotiating than he was when he was three months old. Because, as a baby, even though he couldn’t walk or talk, the moment he became hungry, everyone knew. One minute he’d be sleeping soundly, then 10 seconds later demanding food at the top of his very loud voice. It was negotiating by blackmail, and he always won. The deal? Feed me now, or suffer!
And so we negotiate our way through life, and that negotiating always involves a degree of blackmail. Some of it is quite benign, but necessary. I want to buy a house; you want to sell a house. I have this much money; you want this much money. And so, you negotiate. But behind the negotiation is the little bitty bit of blackmail that says: “If you don’t agree to sell at my price, I’ll walk and you’ll be stuck with your house”, and on the other side: “If you don’t give me the money I want, you can’t have this house, and I happen to know that you really want it.”
It’s a good bet that Québec politicians are required to read Donald Trump’s book: “The Art of the Deal”, because they’re always saying: “Give us what we want, or we’ll walk – away from Canada.” And why not; the blackmail has worked perfectly for at least 60 years now. Even though Québec would, at least initially, be much poorer as an independent country than it is now as the pampered child of Confederation, their threats of separation are taken seriously.
During the 1995 Québec referendum on separation in which Quebeckers came within a hair’s breadth of voting to separate from Canada, Prime Minister Jean Chretien was reported to have been in a state of utter panic over the possibility that he might soon be presiding over the breakup of Canada. (Cartoon by Dewar of Ottawa Citizen)
As a reward for their decades of blackmail, Québec has been granted privileges that no other province could dream of. On the other hand, the Canadian government, and even neighbouring provinces have taken severe actions against Alberta and Saskatchewan, that no one would dream of taking against Québec.
**I suggested that Québec would be poorer, initially, if it separated, because I honestly believe that if Québec left, or were kicked out of the nest, in a few years they would learn to fly on their own. Welfare dependency is learned and it can be unlearned, especially when the unlearning is assisted by the bite of reality.
So, my sincerely held belief is that Alberta and Saskatchewan must begin the process of developing a carefully thought out, and credible, and sincere movement to separate from Canada if there are not some fundamental changes to the way Canada is structured and administered. In other words, we need to take a page out of Québec’s playbook and develop our own blackmail strategy. And we have the financial muscle to be entirely serious about it.
As I suggested in my last blog, there’s nothing to keep us within Canada except sentimentality, and many of us are running out of that very quickly.
Next blog: Chess and the Art of the Sacrifice
I’m Dave Reesor