This is a note that I sent to the Chairman of the recent Essentials of Freedom conference in Red Deer Alberta, which was sponsored by the Economic Education Association. An absolutely exceptional conference! For clarity I’ve editorially expanded on points that I made in the note.
Here’s why I’m a separatist
I thought Maxime (Bernier) gave an exceptional speech and would that he was Canada’s prime minister. But I think his belief that Confederation can be fixed or that Alberta separatism will meet the same fate as Québec separatism is quite misguided.
Quebec and Alberta are not the same, and a thoughtful and strategic separatist movement in the West, particularly Alberta, would encounter fundamentally different realities than Quebec.
Quebec has been propped up and coddled and subsidized by Canadian taxpayers since Confederation in 1867. On the other hand, since their formation in 1905, Alberta and Saskatchewan have been regarded as colonies of the Laurentian group. (Sir John A Macdonald actually used the word, colonies.) The Laurentian Group is the entirely self-serving alliance of corporations and politicians, and bureaucrats centered in the Ottawa, Toronto and Montreal triangle.
In 1905, when it was proposed that a province called Buffalo be carved out of the Northwest Territories, the Laurentian Group, together with the Liberal government, decided that a province as large as Québec or Ontario might pose a future threat to their domination of the Dominion. So they ran an arbitrary line right down the middle and created Alberta and Saskatchewan. There was no rational reason for it except to keep Alberta and Saskatchewan small enough that they could be controlled.
It’s never stopped. For 30 years, Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba fought to gain the same control of their natural resources, as every other province had had had since Confederation. We were successful with that, but then, in 1968, Trudeau the First brought in the National Energy Program which was a direct attack on Alberta’s resources. Even until now we continue to face endless policies and programs aimed directly against the interests of the West.
A personal story. I learned about how Canada’s government operates when I was about 15 years old. My grandfather is pictured on my Facebook page in front of the log cabin he originally built in 1902 near Fort Walsh, Northwest Territories. Next year he moved the cabin 40 miles down Battle Creek, and in 1910, using horses, he and a couple of other ranchers began constructing an irrigation system which has been, even until now, invaluable on the bone-dry prairie of Southwest Saskatchewan. It now encompasses about 10,000 acres, owned by dozens of farmers and ranchers.
In the dirty 30s year of 1935, it was taken over by the federal Prairie Farm Rehabilitation Association, PFRA, with the written agreement, that in exchange for his 25 years of hard labour and expense, he and his heirs and successors, in perpetuity, would receive water for a specified number of acres at a specified rate per acre foot. Just over 20 years later, my dad got a letter from the PFRA informing him that the allowed acreage was being cut and the charge for water was going to be the same as for everyone else.
Since then I’ve understood exactly why our aboriginal people regard promises from Canada’s government, which usually blather “…as long as the sun shines, the grass grows, and the rivers/waters flow”, as proceeding from a forked tongue. These agreements should have an addendum saying “…. or until we change our minds”.
For the Prairie provinces it’s been totally consistent. Every time we think they’re letting us up, we’re hammered back down. That’s a completely different experience than Quebec. Compare Trudeau’s unethical, (and likely illegal), support of the famously corrupt SNC Lavalin, and his Pierre like shrug about Encana.
The second difference between Alberta and Québec is very simple.
Quebec can’t afford to separate; Alberta can’t afford to stay.
I’m Dave Reesor
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