Monday, July 04, 2005

Revivals

It would appear that in light of Alberta's current prosperity that the Separatist movement has once again crawled out of its cave, once again sniffing at the prospect of political gains.

In the late 1970s, Doug Christie along with a few similarly disgruntled compatriots brought the "Western Canada Concept" into being. Although the party enjoyed some momentary success in Alberta after the NEP was introduced, it never went very far. It still exists, but it remains further out in the political wilderness than an NDP Candidate in Calgary does.

In the last provincial election, the Separation Party of Alberta ran a handful of candidates. They had even less voter interest than the "Alberta Alliance" party did. (Not surprising, the Alliance was almost solely funded by the Thorsteinson family, and had quite a fat campaign wallet for its size.

Alberta Separatists usually run around arguing along the following lines:

a. We (Alberta) gives too much money to Ottawa
b. Ottawa (and Ontario) are basically a bunch of self-centered bastards
c. Federalism doesn't work for Alberta/Western Canada.

Of course, Western Separatists work from the assumption that Canada can't possibly work. They point to billions of dollars that flow from Alberta to Ottawa, and virtually nothing that flows back. (Hmmm - lessee - Alberta's economy is booming why? oh right - $55+/bbl Oil) While Alberta flourishes in the flow of Oil revenues, we have to realize that Oil is finite, and will run out sooner or later - even the vast reserves of the Oil Sands have their limits, and the energy cost of extraction is very high in the Oil Sands projects. In other words, Alberta's current prosperity is likely to be short lived unless Albertans start seriously diversifying their economy. (I don't mean the piddling little bits that have been happening for the last 15 years or so, I mean serious investment)

To reinforce their sense of 'alienation', they point repeatedly to Pierre Trudeau's NEP as a classic example of how Ottawa doesn't understand Alberta. That was some 25 years in the past - we buried Trudeau in 2000, for crying out loud. There hasn't been a government in Ottawa that has made even a hint of such a monumental blunder since - get over it. Pointing to corruption in Ottawa doesn't mean that corruption doesn't exist in Edmonton, Regina, Winnipeg or Victoria. Politicians are like anyone else - tempted by the trappings of wealth and power.

Being upset with the Government is a classic Canadian pastime. What makes the separatists think that Western Canada has a monopoly on feeling put upon? Where the Quebec sovereigntist movement can call upon a sense of "unity" around the notion of a unique francophone culture, Western Separatists have no such foothold in the cultural minds of Canadians.

The last thing that separatists fail to understand is the subtle current of Canadian Patriotism. I can get just as riled up as the next guy about what goes on in Ottawa, and I may well even vote for a party that I believe is going to change Ottawa; but ask me to give up my rights as a Canadian Citizen - no dice pal! When it comes to the crunch - I'm a Canadian first and foremost, and I'm not willing to give that up. I dare say that most Western Canadians are fundamentally similar.

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