The Laurentians Prepare For War On Alberta
Last week, the results of Alberta’s equalization referendum were released: 62% of Albertans voted “yes”, in favour of removing equalization from the constitution.
It appears the result has ruffled quite a few feathers in Laurentian Canada — the political, academic, cultural, media, and business elite of central Canada.
Despite claims from many that the referendum was irrelevant, there were at least three major events this week that suggest that central Canada is taking the threat much more seriously than they’re willing to admit publicly.
First, before the results were even announced, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tried to pour cold water on Alberta's fight for fairness.
The Prime Minister accused Albertans of being “incredibly political” and stated that “to eliminate equalization … is something that cannot be done by the federal government.”
While it is technically true that the federal government alone can’t remove equalization from the constitution, no advocate for the referendum strategy — including Project Confederation — has ever claimed that it can!
As we have always said, the federal and provincial governments will have to work together on this, and the objective of the referendum was to kickstart that process.
Trudeau is also conveniently forgetting that — according to the Supreme Court of Canada — this referendum creates a duty for the federal government to come to the table and open negotiations.
Could Trudeau choose to ignore that duty?
Sure — it wouldn’t be the first time his government has ignored the constitution.
He loves to pick and choose which parts of the constitution to follow and support depending on what’s politically convenient.
(In fact, that’s the problem we’re trying to solve!).
Second, the new federal cabinet was announced in a press conference held at exactly the same time as the release of Alberta’s referendum results, and one particular cabinet appointment seems aimed directly at Alberta.
Steven Guilbeault, a radical environmental activist, is Canada’s new Minister of Environment and Climate Change.
In nearly 30 years of activism, Guilbeault has engaged in stunt after stunt directly targeting the West’s energy industry and his push to shut down the oil and gas industry in Alberta will undoubtedly become a major political obstacle to economic growth of the west — from northern British Columbia all the way to Manitoba.
Third, Jean-Francois Lisée — a former leader of the Parti Quebecois and one of the highest-profile separatists during the 1995 Quebec separation referendum — penned an inflammatory piece in the French-language newspaper Le Devoir, entitled “What Alberta Owes Us.”
But clearly, Lisée didn’t do his homework before writing his piece for Le Devoir.
Rather than admitting that Equalization and other aspects of Confederation are unfair to Alberta, Lisée thinks Alberta isn’t paying Quebec enough!
“By enriching Alberta, we impoverished Quebec,” said Lisée. in what amounts to a smear piece on Alberta’s energy industry.
He says it’s time for Quebec to “update the invoice,” claiming that Alberta’s prosperity has cost Quebec 55,000 well-paid manufacturing jobs and that buying Alberta oil is damaging the environment.
“By buying Alberta oil, Quebec is contributing to the ongoing ecological disaster. Now that you have notified us, by referendum, of the end of equalization, the ecologists that we are should decree the end of our participation in this disaster,” he wrote.
No mention, of course, of the oil Quebec currently imports from the Middle East, or of how Quebec would replace Alberta oil — perhaps even larger subsidies for solar panels, paid for by even more transfers from Alberta?
In the end, what Trudeau, Guilbeault, and Lisée all fail to realize is that the energy industry is the industry that powers every other industry.
The environmental regulations that are presently strangling the industry are contributing to what can only be described as an energy crisis, driving costs up and contributing to the significant inflationary pressures impacting all Canadians from coast to coast.
Albertans don’t mind paying their fair share, they never have.
But for decades now, they’ve paid far more than their fair share, and the Equalization referendum was a message to the rest of Canada that that practice has to end.
If central Canada thinks ignoring the clear wishes of the majority of Albertans on equalization will help fix the tension in Confederation, they are bound for a rude awakening.
But all signs suggest the Laurentians are gearing up for a metaphorical war against Alberta.
It’s time for us to follow suit.