One of the greatest distinguishing marks of false prophet is that he will always tell you what you want to hear, he will never rain on your parade; he will get you clapping, he will get you jumping, he will make you dizzy, he will keep you entertained, and he will present a Christianity to you that will make your church look like six flags over Jesus. – Paul Washer
Frank A. Pelaschuk
Jason Kenney, premier of Alberta says he is a proud Canadian. But I ask, how can that be true when he foments western alienation squealing victimhood of a cabal made up of a federal government aligned with eastern provinces to rob Alberta blind, to suck it dry, to grind it down and to spit it out. While such claims that Albertans are targets of a vast conspiracy for whatever reason by envious other provinces and a federal government with a hatred for Alberta in particular may strike some as exaggerated and puzzling, there is a belief in some quarters, mostly justified, that Quebec has been conferred a uniquely favoured status above all other provinces by every federal government since confederation, all forty-three under conservative and liberal banners. If there is envy, there is also anger. Alberta feels as if the unloved child neglected and ignored. But it is the east, that is, every province east of Manitoba, and the federal government which resides in Ottawa, that is the source of most of their anger. Albertans feel they are not viewed and treated as legitimate offspring and, of course, they have the likes of Kenney and Saskatchewan’s Scott Moe to whip up the fires of western discontent confirming such while rabid conspiracists, like Peter Downing, the co-founder of the so-called Wexit movement (get it, nudge, nudge?) act as stooges shouting hysterically, “We are going to do for Western Canada, and Alberta in particular, what the Bloc Quebecois does for Quebec. The only difference is that we are cutting the parasite of Eastern Canada off from our necks. We are cutting this parasite off from your wallets” (Maclean’s, Jen Gerson, Nov. 7, 2019).
Hyperbolic and disturbing as is the language, what is equally troubling is the anger fuelled by folks seemingly with agendas of their own that appear poorly formed and ill-conceived. For most westerners, even Albertans, I suspect, if asked, they would not be able to offer a satisfactorily coherent picture of what it is they are angry about. Yes, they would be able to talk of jobs lost, of companies moving elsewhere, of people really suffering through hard times. But is that all the fault of the rest of Canada, an indifferent federal government and an indifferent populace? Do those crying Wexit not accept that the times and world is changing and they must also change or lose out? Do they not understand that much of their problems are of their own making and limited focus?
It’s true, we cannot just suddenly shut off the taps to those provinces reliant on oil and gas. But those provinces must also understand that change must take place, is inevitable, if this troubled planet is to survive. If we do not look for other sources of energy, if we do not look towards new models for success, growth and sustainability, if we as a community do not do more towards saving this precious world, all discussion will be meaningless and the end not too far off from now. Turning away from a bad situation solves nothing. Not working towards change but sticking to what we have and know is surrender and suicidal. Blaming others for most of the problems of our own making does little to resolve the fix we are in. Peter Downing and his ilk contribute nothing meaningful nor worthwhile to the dialogue. They feed anger but offer no solution; how does that work for anyone?
For Albertans and Saskatchewanians, most notably with the leadership they have, playing the role of victim is daily fare they wake to and sleep by. That is not an affirming approach to life that adds meaning or hope. Instead of whining, there must be concerted effort to work together to make change that is constructive and rehabilitative. The planet is dying and we must contribute towards its healing. From the premiers of Alberta and Saskatchewan, there must be more than the whine that they have and do contribute more to Canada and yet their share of the pie is less than that of the others. That is not helpful. We must work to ensure that everyone, everyone, gets a slice of the pie. We have too much of the Kenney, Moe and Doug Ford types who are bundles of festering resentment concerned only with their tiny fiefdoms and feathering their nests rather than genuine leaders willing and eager to work towards a whole, better, more effective nation. We do not need these types with their mean-spirited tax-cutting public-servant-chopping ways and we don’t need citizens whining about paying taxes yet demanding more and more of the services we demand and need. We want it all but too many do not wish to pay their share. We are in it together and it’s time we recognize and accept that. That’s how we survive.
Those who talk of walking away from Canada are contemptible. They have no loyalty except to their imagined martyrdom or despotic yearnings. If Albertans did break away, what then? How long before they once again are moved by that vague discontent but now with their own new found nation, Albertastan? Would there then be an endless succession of fragmentation into newer, ever greater numbers of separatist groups wanting to abandon their ever diminishing newly minted nations with each self-rendering until sundered to microscopic independent cantons eventually reduced to nothing but a vast empty wasteland? One wonders how much of their anger has been thought through. It’s one thing to be angry but it’s another to walk away enraged without a plan. What guarantees will there be that you will be satisfied with your slice of the pie? And what if you get no slice or there is no pie; what then? Empty promises by false prophets lead nowhere.
There are those who decry that Quebec’s Yves-Francois Blanchet, leader of the Bloc Quebecois, a party whose very raison d’etre is separation, seems to get an easier ride than Alberta’s Kenney. There is evidence that may be true, as we see with Quebec’s Bill-21 and its vile racist and religious message and with Trudeau’s efforts to intervene with the rule of law in an effort to have the Director of Public Prosecutions offer the Quebec engineering giant, SNC-Lavalin, a deferred prosecution agreement rather than face trial and a possible criminal conviction for corruption and bribery. Clearly Quebec does appear to receive preferential treatment to save Quebec jobs. For that, the blame rest squarely with weak federal leaders (conservatives and liberals) who continue to pander to the worst in Quebec society and do not condemn that piece of legislation while also hoping to win electoral support by demonstrating a williness to do almost anything, including pervert justice, to save Quebec jobs. Those who have lost jobs elsewhere are understandably enraged with the perception of Quebec’s much favoured status. However, those waving the cudgel of separation, whether in Quebec or the western provinces, to blackmail Canada into acquiescence to demands that are unreasonable and divisive seem guided not by intelligence or belief but by motives absolutely indecently selfish and parochial. While I would prefer the unruly children act like adults to resolve their problems with federation, there is little accommodation that can be achieved if they insist on having their way in everything and are willing to risk independent economic suicide. You can’t force a wayward child to love its parents.
And that’s how I see those folks talking of walking out: Kenney and Moe have no business acting the role of parents when their behaviour is clearly that of petulant children who believe everyone is out to get them.
So, what is Kenney’s plan, really, or even Moe’s, though it seems Kenney is doing the most whining, excuse me, talking? Does he have one or is he just a bag of chinook wind spewing gas that his supporters insist on inhaling as some eternal truth: Albertan’s are getting screwed, the federal carbon plan is a hoax just like climate change, the equalization programme benefits other provinces particularly Quebec at the expense of Albertans who pay more than their share and pulls more than their weight.
Break away from Canada to where and what? Both Alberta and Saskatchewan are landlocked. With whom would they trade and what incentive would the rest of Canada have to deal with the new found State? Absolutely no incentive. How would Alberta, led by a silly little man with no ideas, pay for their share of the national debt before being allowed to leave? Would Kenney and his fellow separatists find the wherewithal to set up its own government, currency, pension plan, and programmes such as healthcare, education, infrastructure, interprovincial transportation, policing, border security? It’s feasible that this newly independent State might be welcomed with open arms with all the baggage of discontent its citizens bring rather than just for its oil resources before Albertans realize that things might not have changed all that much after all. They will not know until too late when there is no possibility of turning back. How long would it be before they begin whining over the same things that caused them to leave in the first place: not getting a larger slice and paying more than their fair share?
Kenney is not a man or leader anyone can trust. He is a man uncomfortable in the presence of truth or speaking it. This is the man who, while in Harper’s cabinet as Minister of Employment and Social Development, oversaw the Temporary Foreign Workers Program (TFWP) which encouraged Canadian businesses to hire foreign workers at below rates paid to Canadian workers! This until forced to make changes when the news became public. All this to say that Kenney is no friend or ally to Canadian workers or Albertan workers but rather friend and ally to Big Business and self-promotion and self-interest. He certainly is no friend to Canada or even Albertans except as a stepping stone to a creation of his own little fiefdom where everyone will love the man until they wake up and wonder what they had done to themselves.
Kenney is the pied piper to ruin. He is a little narcissist with whine and a fiddle and it’s the people of Alberta getting played.
But such is the irresistible nature of truth, that all it asks and all it wants, is the liberty of appearing. – Thomas Paine.
They that can give up essential liberties to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety. — Benjamin Franklin