“The only time in the Speech from the Throne that Saskatchewan was essentially mentioned was in the phase-out of our energy industry workers.”
That was Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe’s response to the massive shift in direction signalled by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in the Throne Speech last Wednesday. His words rang true across the West and the fight for the heart of the energy industry has ramped up yet again.
Alberta Premier Jason Kenney described the Throne Speech as a “full-frontal attack” on the constitution.
“There were more policies that invade provincial jurisdiction than I could count,” said Kenney. “Alberta will continue to work with our allies across the country to focus on lives and livelihoods.”
From the reaction of the premiers, it is now clear that national unity hangs in the balance.
The announcement of ambitious legislation guaranteed to be detrimental to the interests of Westerners pits Moe and Kenney against the full might of a federal government targeting the heart of the energy industry.
The rhetoric both have displayed in recent days highlights the rage bubbling amongst their electorates, already concerned about their futures, but rhetoric is just that.
While both premiers have talked the talk, angry citizens await firm action. In Alberta, Kenney has slow-walked his Fair Deal plan to a crawl. Two of his best options - a provincial pension plan and referendum to abolish equalization - have been delayed until next fall at the earliest. Constitutional challenges, while bold in rhetoric, will take years to unwind. Strong letters are just words on a page; empty threats unless backed up with strong action.
More than ever, the need for bold leadership is of vital importance. The constitution is under attack. Western alienation, scoffed at by the Laurentian establishment and Trudeau himself, is on the rise. Further delays will only see that anger redirected at provincial governments and Premiers that are seen to be waffling. Watering down messaging in a time when strong action is needed will further weaken the fabric of national unity.
The next few months will demonstrate clearly that constitutional reform is required to strengthen national unity and provide equal footing for provinces wary of federal intrusion into provincial jurisdiction. The current constitutional order is designed to favour voter-heavy provinces, with no real defence available to smaller provinces.
A constitutional convention may be the only way to keep the country together.
Without one, enflamed regional anger will continue to divide the country and the viability of remaining a single nation will continue to deteriorate.
These reforms are long past due. It’s time to recognize the gravity of the situation and act. Words will simply fall on deaf ears.
Reopen The Constitution:
Developments of the last few weeks have been devastating for Alberta.
The cancellation of Teck's Frontier Project sent a terrible message that Canada is closed for business.
The spread of COVID-19 left an already weakened financial market even shakier.
And then, this weekend, the breakdown in OPEC+ discussions has seen oil prices plummeting.
Alberta's economic downturn has already lasted years, and just as many were hoping things were starting to turn around, it seems we are - once again - headed in the wrong direction.
Now, more than any other time, inaction is not an option.
Now, it's time to open the constitution.
As Premier Kenney said:
"Albertans, even in our times of economic trial, have been contributing $20 billion net to the rest of the federation through our federal taxes. Our ability to continue doing so is now at risk. Albertans have been good to the rest of Canada. It's time to see the rest of Canada return the favour."
Federal-provincial relations must be amended immediately, or Alberta’s economy could collapse.
The time has come to force open the Constitution, by whatever means necessary.
As the Buffalo Declaration outlined two weeks ago, "constitutional change must happen within Confederation or a referendum on Alberta’s independence is an inevitability."
The quickest way to open the Constitution is via a referendum to abolish Equalization.
Then, once the Constitution is open, we can also start pushing for fairer representation in the House and Senate, for guarantees on our right to develop our resource, for free trade, and more.
Premier Kenney is attending the First Ministers Meeting on Friday, with all the other provincial Premiers.
This would be the perfect time for him to announce that Alberta will be forcing a renegotiation of Canada's Constitution.
Please sign the petition telling Premier Kenney that now is the time to Reopen The Constitution.
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