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Opinion

MORGAN: Forget Wexit. Let’s get behind Qexit

Why are we swimming upstream in trying to create a nascent Western independence movement, when there’s already one that wants independence from us?

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Support for Western independence from Canada is higher today than it was when Pierre Trudeau was prime minister. Westerners are at the end of their rope. Our system forces federal leadership to cater to the interests of Central and Eastern Canada at the expense of the West. Confederation is broken & the constitutional reforms required to fix it appear impossible to achieve.

Right now, the Alberta Independence Party appears to be trying to self destruct through infighting. The Freedom Conservative Party is better organized, but lacks the fire in the belly to lead the charge forward. “Wexit” is drawing large rallies, but no well-organized plan has emerged which will lead us to independence any time soon. It will take years before any Western province is in a position to hold a successful vote on forming a new nation.

What if we are looking at things the wrong way here?

Why are we swimming upstream in trying to create a nascent Western independence movement, when there’s already one that wants independence from us? Why don’t we foster and feed a separatist movement within Canada which has been established since the 1960s? If the West put its collective support behind the Quebec independence movement, perhaps Quebec will finally, actually vote to leave.

Bombardier building (source: Twitter)

In the Quebec independence referendum of 1995, the “Yes” vote only lost by one per cent. Canada had rallied with an “I love Quebec” campaign. The federal government showered the province with funds as the referendum loomed. Would the campaign for secession have failed if Western Canada had held a “Don’t let the door hit your ass on the way out” campaign? It certainly looks more achievable than having a Western province secede within the next few years.

The case for Quebec secession can be made pretty easily in the West. All we have to do is ask Westerners to think about what we would lose if Quebec were to leave confederation.

We would lose the culture of corruption which dominates Quebec in political and business circles. From the SNC Lavalin scandal to popular leadership of Maurice Duplessis despite his flagrant corruption, Quebecers have always simply taken corruption in stride. It is little wonder that biker gangs and corrupt unions hold such power within Quebec. This culture of corruption infects our federal institutions.

We would lose official bilingualism. No more absurd court cases based on things as ridiculous as water fountains not having the button labeled in French. We would lose the preferential hiring of French-speaking civil servants in regions where French is not even among the top ten languages spoken. French labeling requirements would no longer hassle small businesses. We would have more space for entertaining text on the back of cereal boxes. Even our cigarettes would have more room for cancer warnings and gory pictures.

We would lose a raft of corporate welfare cases such as Bombardier. Quebec is the champion of corporate welfare within Canada. For every $100 generated by its economy, the government spends 86 cents on various forms of subsidies. In Alberta, that number is still high 39 cents. How many federal dollars would be freed up if Quebec’s corporations were no longer bleeding so many subsidies from the budget?

SNC Lavalin building (source: Wiki Commons)

Speaking of welfare, we would lose that Equalization drain as well. The federal government would find an extra $13 billion a year in its coffers simply from equalization. Billions more are disproportionately transferred to Quebec from a myriad of other federal programs every year. Our family of confederation would immediately lose its most needy member.

We would lose that wonderful crop of Quebec politicians. Whether municipal such as Coderre, provincial like Legault, or federal like Trudeau and Blanchet, we would lose them all. We would also lose 24 Senators from Quebec. Could you imagine how terrible that political fate would be?

Does the West really want to separate from Canada, or does it just want to separate from Quebec? If Quebec was no longer part of confederation, most of the issues causing the West to consider independence would disappear. We would be much more comfortable within a nation that isn’t beholden to la belle province. Quebec’s secession may deal a death blow to Western separatism.

Let’s start encouraging Quebec to leave the nest. Its what they always claimed to want anyway and we have nothing to lose.

Vive le Québec. Libre.

Opinion

LETTER: Stop repatriating ISIS fighters to Canada

A reader says that Canada must shut the door on returning ISIS fighters.

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RE: Calgary man charged with terror crimes after allegedly training with ISIS in Syria

The arrest of a Calgary man by the RCMP on terror-related charges linked to his time with the Islamic State should be a stern reminder to Canadians that the old foe of Islamic extremism hides beneath current tensions. The RCMP say there are 190 Canadians linked to Islamic terror groups. Sixty have returned to Canada. The most notorious organization, Islamic State, butchered its way across nations and conquered sizable territory and resources.

We should never forget that these groups intend us harm. ISIS, more than any other, seduced many individuals into committing crimes for them – many of these persons were never officially linked to Islamic State. Alberta Premier Jason Kenney is right to counsel Ottawa to never allow the repatriation of ISIS fighters back into this country. Last month, Human Rights Watch accused Canada of abandoning some of these people inside prison camps variously controlled by the Kurds and the Turks.

The problem of terrorist repatriation is a global one. The Kurds and the Turks, by turns, have demanded their return and an end to their unwanted global responsibility. Britain’s appellate court has been lambasted by critics for allowing its former citizen, dubbed the Jihadi Bride, an ISIS member, to return home. Shamima Begum left Britain for Syria and stayed with the terror group for three years. Now sitting inside a refugee camp, she apparently begged to be repatriated. Britain’s Conservative MPs argue her return sets a dangerous precedent. They are correct in saying so.

Global, indeed Middle Eastern, security has always depended on a powerful alliance between the U.S, Israel, and a few Arab nations. States like Egypt and Jordan share military and economic partnerships with Israel. The American withdrawal from parts of the Middle East like Syria was a mistake. They enabled the Taliban to rebound and Hezbollah to resume attacking Israel. The China-Iran alliance could enable the tracking of Western forces. 

Christopher Mansour
Barrie, ON

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Opinion

LETTER: There won’t be any accountability for WE in this Canada

A reader says that Canadians shouldn’t hold their breath that any accountability will come in the wake of the growing WE Scandal.

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The Kielburger brothers are like the prime minister; they think most people would believe the WE charity along with the founders wouldn’t benefit from administering a near $1 billion dollar program. The Conservative’s have called for a RCMP investigation of WE and Trudeau’s involvement. I can’t see that happening.

Brenda Lucki, the RCMP Commissioner in the SNC-L affair, could have applied to the courts for release of cabinet documents, but she chose to hide behind the PM’s cabinets privilege. The Ethics Commissioner has no teeth to impose any real penalty on these ministers who again, abuse Canadian finances. This is a failed federation, lead by a corrupt PM and finance minister along with the PMO that has its head in the sand.

On another point.

WEXIT is sounding better, every day, for Albertans, but I don’t think Premier Kenney had any intention of taking the next step to give Albertans a say. Premier Kenney changed his tune after he was elected to the Premiership. I am not impressed with him as he was all fire and brimstone prior to the election, but now I feel he is just another politician who pulled a bait and switch on his real intensions. To bad I didn’t hear him tell Albertans that he was a committed Federalist prior to saying he was fighting for Alberta. I would have changed my vote for sure. 

Steven Ruthven
Calgary, AB 

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Opinion

BARNES: Time to replace the RCMP with an Alberta force

Drew Barnes writes that Alberta should immediately begin the process of creating its own police force.

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Guest opinion column from Drew Barnes, MLA

In the Fair Deal Panel report, it was recommended that Alberta create its own police force. It is what we heard loud and clear from Albertans across the province. It is imperative, now more than ever with the overreaching policies of Ottawa, that we have control over policing in our own land. Premier Kenney – in the government’s response – has committed to conducting a further analysis of the panel recommendation to move to an Alberta Provincial Police. This analysis will support why we should have our own police force that is overseen by a directly elected Alberta Chief of Police. An Alberta Provincial Police force is a constitutional right that we have, and it should be exercised. 

Historically, Alberta had its own police force from 1917 to 1932. During that period, Alberta saw an increase in arrest rate and conviction, and a decrease in movement into Alberta by those with criminal intent. The reason for this increase has been attributed to the institutional difference in focus and priorities of a national vs an Alberta entity. 

This history serves to underscore why we need a police force that is familiar with the Alberta experience. One of the issues the RCMP have that makes it difficult for them to effectively police the province is the constant in-and-out of its members in communities, which nullifies the benefits that come with being familiar with an area and its particular challenges. An officer raised in Jasper, Ontario will be less familiar with the issues and concerns of Jasper, Alberta, than an Albertan. While some RCMP recruits may be from Alberta and may land a position in Alberta, that is too often not how it works. The lack of familiarity with community, and short-term posting protocol of the RCMP is an ongoing, acknowledged hinderance, for both the officers and the community.

The costs to operate the RCMP increase at a higher rate than provincially run police forces. A study comparing these costs found that over the span of eight years, the cost of operating RCMP detachments rose an average of $44.50 per capita. The costs for the Ontario Provincial Police force rose only $37.10 per capita on average during the same period.

We can cancel the contract with the federal government and the RCMP with two years notice. Providing notice that we will cancel the contract can take place as early as March 31, 2021. This would allow us to terminate the contract as of March 31, 2023 at no cost. Within that two-year gap, we can work out the details, such as settling accounts over buildings and equipment, which the current contract provides a road map for.

As a province, we even have a basic template in place that make this easier. The Alberta Sheriffs already perform many police duties in our province with 950 sworn members and 16 stations. We would simply need to look at expanding them into the areas that presently utilize RCMP service. 

The RCMP is a proud and iconic symbol of Canada, made up of proud, hardworking members from across Canada, however, it is time for Alberta to consider taking back it’s policing, to create local ownership, accountability, and to hire Albertans to police Alberta. Albertans should determine their own policing priorities based on their particular needs. It is time to bring back the Alberta Provincial Police.

Drew Barnes is the UCP MLA for Cypress-Medicine Hat

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