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ANDRUS: One shot to save confederation

Albertans may disagree on whether or not the ultimate goal should be independence, but there is one common element to this entire equation: the status quo is not acceptable.



Confederation is broken.

That is an undeniable truth that now lies exposed at the bitter end of an election campaign that saw Alberta used as a punching bag by four of the five parties that now comprise membership in the House of Commons.

“We’re shutting down the oilsands by 2030,” said Green Party leader Elizabeth May.

Jagmeet Singh, leader of a New Democratic Party that lost 15 seats, has vowed to continue to fight against development of the TransMountain pipeline, a vital piece of infrastructure needed for resource development in Alberta and Saskatchewan.

Justin Trudeau – still the Prime Minister – has done more to ignite western alienation with Bill C-69 and C-48 than any other prime minister in recent memory.

And don’t forget Yves-Francois Blanchet, leader of the separatist Bloc Quebecois, who proposed revisions to the equalization system that would further cripple the Western economy, deepening a recession that has left the region reeling.

Justin Trudeau, Andrew Scheer and Yves-François Blanchet

The electoral map shows a clear regional fault line in our country. Anger continues to simmer, remaining ever present like tension after a dramatic and intense argument that cuts deep into the soul.

Emotion is a part of politics – that’s natural – but in order to build a successful movement, individuals must be persuaded with rational, intelligent arguments and a message that doesn’t just spread fear and hate, but is built on hope.

There is one thing that is missing in all this madness.

A plan.

It was almost twenty years ago that six prominent Albertans penned what would become universally known as the ‘Firewall Letter’. The letter outlined several key points that would create a semi-autonomous Alberta within confederation.

Twenty years later, none of the suggestions made by Stephen Harper, Ted Morton, Tom Flanagan, Rainer Knopff, Andrew Crooks and Ken Boessenkoel have been put into place.

They were dismissed at the time as too radical, despite being written in the shadow of Jean Chretien’s third consecutive majority government. At the time, “The West Wants In” was still driving the Reform/Canadian Alliance movement.

But the political climate has shifted. Never before has one region become so singularly outcast by the political elites, and Westerners have never been the favoured sons of the Laurentian Elite in Ottawa.  

As investment capital has shifted out of the country and layoffs continue to roll through downtown Calgary, talk of Western independence has dominated the provincial landscape in the post-election fallout. With it, questions as to an exit strategy, vision and a clear lack of leadership litter the comments of the WEXIT Facebook group – 261 thousand members strong.

Source: Scott Moe twitter account

Too many questions, too few answers. There’s one missing ingredient.  

A plan.

Albertans may disagree on whether or not the ultimate goal should be independence, but there is one common element to this entire equation: the status quo is not acceptable.

There are concrete steps that the Alberta government could take immediately in order to wrest power back from Ottawa.

The proposals in Project Confederation’s Open Letter to Premier Kenney include three immediate referendum questions: one to abolish Canada’s equalization program; another to clarify Section 92 and Section 121 of the Constitution Act – allowing for unrestricted movement of goods, services and infrastructure across provinces. And third, to reform the Senate to include an equal number of elected senators per province while giving the upper chamber effective powers in order to act as a check on any federal government bent on encroaching in provincial jurisdiction. 

Also included in the letter are initiatives to collect our own revenue from personal income tax; creating an Alberta Pension Plan and withdrawing from the Canada Pension Plan; establishing a provincial police force at earliest convenience; establishing an independent Alberta immigration system (as Quebec has already done); and resuming provincial responsibility for health care, social policy, and infrastructure.

It is time for Albertans to boldly stand up for our own future and seek – as much as possible – to be the masters of our own destiny.

This means resuming control of the powers that we possess under the Constitution of Canada but which we have allowed the federal government to exercise for too long.

Sign the letter HERE.


LETTER: Erin O’Toole isn’t “woke” enough to beat Trudeau in the East

A reader says that Erin O’Toole isn’t “woke” enough to beat Trudeau in the East.




In this ‘Era of Wokeness” along with the ascension of Black Lives Matter into the public consciousness, I believe that it would be detrimental to the Conservative Party of Canada to have Erin O’Toole as
it’s leader.

Mr O’Toole recently refused to use the word ‘racism’ and did not answer clearly when pressed on whether he believes it even exists. Erin O’Toole will hand the Trudeau Liberals an easy victory during the next election, should he become Tory leader. Canada cannot afford another four years of Justin Trudeau. 

Like it or not, most people in Ontario and Quebec (where all federal elections are ultimately decided owing to their number of allotted seats), are very much ‘woke’ on the issue of racism, as well as
sexism, homophobia, ect. In my experience, this also includes most Conservative Party of Canada voters in Eastern Canada.

Right-wing populism and social conservatism does well in Western Canada – but centrist Red Toryism is all they are prepared to accept in most of Ontario, Quebec and Atlantic Canada. CPC members in Western Canada need to keep this in mind when voting for their next leader. 

CPC members need to be sensible and realistic if they want to win the next federal election. 

Gila Kibner 
Edmonton, Alberta

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LETTER: While Trudeau mislabels regular guns “military-style”, he is handing real assault weapons to the police

A reader says that Trudeau is militarizing the police while disarming Canadians.




RE: Canada’s cops worried Liberal gun ban will hamper training

I enjoyed your article on the gun ban and how it will affect cops. A point of view the CBC would never share.

Perhaps another topic should be brought to the public is this: Although Justin Trudeau said there is no place for these weapons in Canada and Bill Blair said these  weapons have only one purpose – and that is for one soldier to kill another soldier – they gifted more deadly weapons to our local police forces through the Canadian Armed Forces., as was done recently in my hometown of St Thomas, Ontario.

What is the government’s agenda in giving true military assault weapons to the police and banning “military-style” (no legal definition) weapons from civilians. 

John Siberry
St. Thomas, ON

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WAGNER: Don’t make the tent too big – the independence movement must be conservative

Michael Wagner writes that there is little point in pursuing Western independence if the new country looks like the old.




In recent years some people have argued that the Western independence movement should encompass people from the entire political spectrum. Support for independence, they argue, is not a specifically conservative or right-wing phenomenon. To generate enough political support to achieve Alberta’s independence, people of all sorts of ideological positions will be needed.

For example, early in 2018, one well-meaning independence activist posted a message on Facebook stating, “We all need to remember that you don’t have to be a conservative to be a separatist. We will need people from all sides in this.”

Similarly, in a conversation at a meeting, one person seriously suggested to me that independence supporters could bring Millennials on board by telling them that the money Alberta saved from cancelling transfer payments to Canada would be used to offer free university tuition and free dental care for all Albertans. This is essentially the Bernie Sanders appeal – support Alberta independence so that you will get “free” stuff from the government. 

If that’s the direction the independence movement were to take, it would become empty and meaningless. Proposing an even greater role for government – that is, even more socialism – as the antidote to Eastern Canadian “progressive” liberalism, entirely defeats the purpose of a free West. If socialistic policies are acceptable, then Canada is already suitable and getting better every year. An Alberta version of Bernie Sanders is not an improvement on Justin Trudeau. In attempting to widen their appeal to the left, support for independence would likely shed far more fertile and dedicated support on the right.

Instead of offering socialistic goodies or opting for flimsy policies in an appeal to people from across the political spectrum, the independence movement should be clearly grounded in small-c conservative thinking that values free enterprise, private property, the family, respect for first peoples, and the historic virtues of Western civilization. That is, after all, Alberta’s heritage.

An independent Western Canada must protect property rights, and the protection of property rights will not appeal broadly to the left. An independent Western Canada must allow for the genuine freedoms that modern “progressives” too often to despise. Progressives often view conservative viewpoints and traditional Christian perspectives as “hate” that should be banned. An independent West that embraced such progressivism would be no better than the existing Canadian federation, and might even become worse.

When the Alberta independence movement first appeared in the 1970s and 1980s, there was no doubt that it was a right-of-centre phenomenon. In the early 1980s, the Western Canada Concept Party of Alberta – the Alberta WCC – produced a four-page document entitled, “Our Statement of Principles.” It contained 24 points. The first point was, “We believe in responsibility and self-reliance.” The second was, “We believe in private enterprise.” Thirdly, it declared, “We believe in smaller government.” 

The fifth point stated, “We believe in the right to own property.” The explanatory paragraph for this point was as follows: “The power of the state to occupy, seize or expropriate private property is a violation of personal freedom. Any limitation of the freedom of the individual to own what he or she acquires, reduces the freedom and prosperity of the whole society.”

Many of the initial points in the statement focus on individual freedom and entrepreneurship, whereas the subsequent points tend to focus more on the specific role of government.

The twelfth point is noteworthy: “The strength of the family is the strength of the nation.” The explanatory paragraph for this point states: “Healthy, close-nit, nurturing families assure the future of a society by molding responsible, self-reliant, hard-working citizens. Healthy families transmit healthy values – which strengthen the community and the nation.”

The Alberta WCC Statement of Principles cannot be understood as anything other than a small-c conservative document, and it provides a shining example of the kinds of principles any future independence organization or party should embrace. The pioneers of the Western independence movement had this right.

The goals of the independence movement are self-determination and greater freedom for the West, and these goals only make sense from a conservative or libertarian perspective. Therefore, watering down principles in order to appeal for wider support from the political centre or left would ultimately defeat the purpose of the independence movement. Achieving an independent West that favoured political preferences resembling Toronto and Montreal would be an empty victory not worth the fight.

Michael Wagner is columnist for the Western Standard. He has a PhD in political science from the University of Alberta. His books include ‘Alberta: Separatism Then and Now’ and ‘True Right: Genuine Conservative Leaders of Western Canada.’

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