I wrote, a bit more than a week ago, about the words and deeds that are, steadily, pushing more and more Brits, including even some Remainers, towards accepting, even welcoming a “no deal” or Hard Brexit.
Now I see two articles that suggest that it’s just getting worse in Europe, as frustrations, on both sides, boil over and that, maybe, something similar is happening in Canada:
- First, the Guardian reported on remarks by Donald Tusk, the European council President, in which he said, that there would be ““special place in hell” for those who pushed for Brexit “without even a sketch of a plan”“; and
- Just a few days ago, a report in Business in Calgary, said that ““I happen to believe that we’re being pushed out of Confederation,” says W. Brett Wilson from his office on 17th Avenue downtown. The chairman of Prairie Merchant Corporation and well-known investment banker, businessman, investor and philanthropist is outspoken about the various headwinds Alberta faces from within and outside Canada. “It’s not a bunch of people saying, ‘We need to leave’; it’s a bunch of people saying, ‘Why would we stay?’ We’re being pushed. And we’re tired of pushing back and saying, ‘No, no, we want to be here.’”“
Who is doing the pushing?
In The case of the EU it is people like European Council President Donald Tusk (Poland) and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker (luxembourg) who have both been quoted as saying that they see Brexit as “the beginning of the end for the bloc and for western political civilisation.” That’s a a pretty grim vision of the democratic choice of a free people ~ perhaps an ill advised, even badly informed choice, but a free choice, all the same, by a free people, made in the most democratic of all ways ~ a popular vote.
In Canada’s case, people like W Brett Wilson (and I) suggest that “The forces behind the push … [include] … “Tanker bans, no pipelines, stranded oil and paltry platitudes in terms of the things the government has offered so far,” Wilson says. “It’s becoming increasingly impossible to be a meaningful part of Confederation because of these” … [and] … Fuelling most of these forces, he continues, is the foreign-funded attack on Alberta’s energy industry. “Their aim is to landlock our petroleum resources. And to do that, the foreign-funded environmental groups, including [David] Suzuki, started an all-out attack. Most people in Calgary, in Alberta and frankly in Canada assumed that logic would prevail. But now we’ve got this emotional debate where people truly believe that the oil industry is attacking the earth” … [he’s talking about, as I have] … foreign-funded environmental groups, including Ecojustice, Leadnow and Change.org … [who he describes as] … eco-terrorists. “Because they’re guilty of treason for what they’ve done to Canada. They’ve made clear what they want to do and have set about doing it. They have made a business out of attacking what we have, for the benefit of the U.S. oil and gas industry.””
But Leadnow and the others didn’t impose the tanker ban; Change.org didn’t sabotage the Energy East pipeline; and Ecojustice isn’t behind the bungling the Trans Mountain expansion project. The people perceived, by many, to be trying to drive Alberta out of Canada are Justin Trudeau and his closest advisors.
Do I really believe that Justin Trudeau wants to break up Canada? No, of course not, and I suspect that Mr Wilson doesn’t either. But I think both he and I are convinced that Justin Trudeau is, quiet simply, a puppet being manipulated by a brilliant public relations machine that is, itself, in the hands of people who believe that the only Canada that matters is the bit that stretches along the shores of Lakes Erie and Ontario and the Fleuve Saint-Laurent, from Windsor to Blanc-Sablon in Québec. And that puppet hierarchy is not just our man-child prime minister, Justin Trudeau, in the hands of his PMO and the Liberal campaign machine … they are, in turn, puppets in the hands of the Laurentian Elites who are, very often, the unwitting dupes of big money interest in the USA and other foreign countries.
Do those puppet masters want to tear Canada apart? I think that they don’t care one way or the other. They, like Donald Tusk and Jean-Claude Juncker, are persuaded that only their vested interests are “good,” and anything that runs counter to their vision of the world, as they see it ordered, is something between a minor inconvenience (like Western Canadian oil and gas getting to world markets) and an existential threat to Western civilization, itself (liken the Brexit).
I suspect (I hope, anyway) that Doug Ford and Jason Kenney, backed by several other premiers, will be a powerful, trans-Canada counterweight to the prevailing Trudeau-Liberal vision of Canada. I also hope that the Liberal Party of Canada will be sent back to the opposition benches, again, in 2019, and that this time it will use its time out of power to look, deeply, at itself, and become, again, a truly Canadian party.
Angus Reid has written a thoughtful piece on the Angus Reid Institute website. It’s all about identity politics and the future of Canada. “Almost thirty years ago,” he says, “I undertook what was then one of the largest surveys ever developed on Western Canadian attitudes. Much has changed since then but the feelings of resentment towards Ottawa are higher than ever and the potential for change in the electoral map is intensifying … [and] … On the economic front, our study examined the single largest issue in Western Canada – pipelines. Not surprisingly this issue has the biggest impact in Alberta and Saskatchewan. But the untold public opinion story is the unique position of Quebec on the entire energy file. By a huge margin Quebecers are most likely to downplay the role of energy in the Canadian economy and resist any attempt to move Western oil through their province to refineries in Atlantic Canada. As Indigenous and environmental roadblocks continue to frustrate the Trans Mountain option, most Canadians support a dual track with pipelines east and west, with the exception of Quebecers who stand firmly opposed to both energy pipeline projects … [and he adds that] … Quebec also stands in that it is perceived by a majority of Canadians as having an extra advantage in confederation. None of the four Western provinces are seen as having this advantage by more than 10 per cent of the national population. Alberta, which has contributed billions to federal equalization is mentioned most often (32%) by Canadians as giving more than it gets. It would appear the principle of fairness is being severely tested in Canada.“
“What unites the entire West,” Angus Reid writes, “is a widely shared consensus about unfair treatment by the national government. Three-quarters of Westerners feel that the treatment of their province by Ottawa is unfair, compared to slightly less than half in Eastern Canada. And most of those who hold this point of view say this unfair treatment is only getting worse … [and, he explains that] … An in-depth review of perceptions of major federal institutions reveals that negative views are chiefly aimed at the federal government, Parliament and to a lesser extent, national programming on the CBC. More positive assessments exist for the Supreme Court, The RCMP and the Armed Forces … [but] … Perhaps surprisingly given the tenor of debates back in the 70s and 80s, Western Canadians are largely indifferent to the principles of official bilingualism. Our study finds little opposition to the language rights enjoyed by French speakers.“
He concludes by saying that “My grandchildren are coming of age in a far different political environment than I faced as a young lad in the early 50s. Hopefully they will look back in the distant future at a country that adapted to the changing demographics of the twenty first century. Western Canada has always wanted in. Soon it will have the clout to burst through the door. Get ready.“
The Liberal Party of Canada is a great and even precious national institution; in the 20th century it produced Canada’s best prime ministers, including, especially, Sir Wilfred Laurier and Louis St Laurent, both Quebecers … but they were not the Quebecers Justin Trudeau singled out, in 2010, when he said that Albertans were bad for Canada and Quebecers were good. In fact Quebec has also produced Canada’s worst 20th century prime minsters: the Trudeaus, père et fils. Now, more than ever, the Liberal Party needs to make itself ready, once again, to provide good government for all of Canada, when, not if, the Conservatives become, as they most assuredly will, tired and stale and need of their own time in opposition to rethink and rebuild. To do that the Liberals need to do some serious soul searching, on the opposition benches, for about a decade, and, finally, after more than a half century, ditch the toxic legacy of the Trudeaus.
Canada needs politicians who have and enunciate our shared, core values: honesty, hard work, frugality and generosity combined, coupled with a will to lead in the world and with the good sense to look at all sids of an issue before we act. There are many, many good people in the Conservative, Liberal and New Democratic Parties who share those values; there are some who do not. There is a special place in hell for those who want to divide Canada, even to destroy it, especially for those who want to divide Canada for no good reason, just because they are being manipulated.