Over the years, I’ve got to know a guy from Vancouver who is a knowledgeable and opinionated about all things politics in Canada.
He is also a powerful voice for Federal Canadian Conservatism. I’ll call him the “Vancouver Federalist” in this post.
Recently, he and I got into a bit of a debate over the downturn in Alberta, after ConocoPhillips announced they would be laying off hundreds more people in their Calgary office.
The attitude of Canadian Federalists of all stripes and from all over reflect the necessity for Alberta to take the first step to separate from Canada.
To be clear, although I disagree vehemently with the Vancouver Federalist, I still respect him.
Our conversation is below:
Vancouver Federalist: Honestly – of all those only Rachel deserves any blame. Sorry. Justin has nothing to do with this, although he’s about to one way or another. But not yet. Wynne really has nothing to do with it. Neither does the mayor of Montreal
The reason this is happening is two fold.
First – global prices for oil crashed. That is not anyone in Canada’s fault. And it was inevitable – anyone who thought that oil was just going to keep on going up forever and ever amen was deluding themselves. But that is the major reason.
Saskatchewan’s oil industry isn’t crashing and burning the way Alberta’s is. Granted, most head offices are based in Calgary/Edmonton – but oil companies are still investing and hiring in Saskatchewan despite the price of oil.
The second reason is a little more complex, but it basically boils down to bad gov’ts chosen by albertans, and bad priorities. For years you COULD have been stocking away cash, and charging people enough taxes to pay for the bills. But you didn’t. And that’s left a gaping hole in your budget – and to deal with this major financial crisis you guys hired…. The NDP. Who instead of cutting breaks for oil companies and talking about reducing royalties temporarily instead jacked taxes and started talking about MORE royalties.
New Alberta Separatist: “Chosen by Albertans.”
Alberta has been a mecca for economically displaced Canadians over the past two decades. People so displaced because they themselves and the people from the regions they came from voted for the kinds of government that is currently destroying Alberta.
How many Liberal/NDP voting Vancouverites, Torontonians, and Saskatchewanians live in Calgary? Enough to turn Calgary orange, Saskatchewan green-yellow, but neither Toronto or Vancouver blue.
Why are they here? The NDP/Liberals from their home provinces destroyed their own economy over the past two decades, while the Alberta economy, built by Albertans, soared. At least the Maritimers who live here get it – they just want to work hard and keep what they earn.
I’ve lived in Calgary the past 15 years and I’ve seen first hand the amount of pinko out of province lefties come in and it’s THEM who voted in the bad government, not those of us for whom Alberta more than just a place to work when things are going well and leave when they are not.
Vancouver Federalist: Then there’s the pipelines. I’m sorry – but what has ANY Alberta leader done to work with the people who will be affected by the pipelines and try to come to some sort of arrangement that’s fair and equitable? Zero. Just ‘we expect you to do this for us for free, and if your pro vince gets screwed up well that’s just the way it is”.
New Alberta Separatist: We’ve paid billions into equalization we have never received anything for – largely because of our oil. I’d say that’s hardly free.
Do you think the current Prime Minister will somehow make $200 billion magically appear in Alberta, the way it has in Quebec?
Vancouver Federalist: And it’s not really the first time – back in the 90’s, Alberta decided that one of the ways it could get out of debt was to stop paying people social assistance and instead give them a one way ticket to BC. Cost bc billions, and when bcs complained and said ‘hey guys, that’s not how this is supposed to work, you take care of your people and we take care of ours, we really can’t afford to just take care of yours as well”, the answer was basically ‘eff you, we’ll do what we want and there’s nothing in it for us to look after our own people when we can get you to do it”. Lead to a major stand off with the Feds and it caused a lot of problems for us till a solution was found with the Feds. they actually cut off transfer payments to us for quite a while.
So… You’re really not in much of a position to be complaining when other provinces say ‘eff you there’s nothing in it for us, and there’s a lot of risk, so no”. To counter that, the premier of your province should have been working with the premiers of other provinces to find a way where it does work. But they didn’t, because alberta’s got lots of money so eff ’em. Then oil crashed.
New Alberta Separatist: So what you’re saying is British Columbians should be able to come into Alberta when our economy is doing better than B.C., but Albertans shouldn’t do the same when B.C. is doing better than us?
The best form of social assistance is a job, and plenty of folks from B.C. came looking for jobs in Alberta over the past two decades.
We had the jobs because we had the lower taxes and small government that created the kind of growth to create them. Now because of those out of province folk, we have high taxes and big government that is destroying it and that we will have to deal with long after those people leave and go home.
Vancouver Federalist: I’m sorry – I know this is not what you want to hear. I know albertans are proud and don’t like to think that they screwed up. BUT – ya did. Alberta didn’t cause the crash in oil, but it should have known that ONE DAY that was going to happen. It couldn’t NOT happen. And not only did you do nothing to prepare or seek solutions for stronger markets, but on top of it all when it DID happen you elected the NDP because you couldn’t get behind one party as a group.
So here we are. The question is – what are you going to do to fix it? You’re in for a bit of a rough ride no matter what, nothing you can do is going to change the price of oil right now and even if a pipeline got green lit it’d be years before it was built. So – less blaming others, and time to take responsibility for your situation. What ARE you going to do?
New Alberta Separatist: We didn’t elect the NDP. The out of province folk looking for social assistance did.
Even still, what COULD we have done? Billions of dollars that actually could have gone to diversify our economy were siphoned off to shut up the separatists in Quebec.
If the choice is me working my butt off to feed my family and keep them from freezing to death in the winter or Quebec forming it’s own nation – I’d take Quebec forming it’s own nation any day. It seems the rest of Canada would rather make Albertans work their butts off than see that happen.
Those same out of province folks who vote NDP would never vote to cut off the transfers, because by and large, those transfers were going back to their real homes.
While B.C., Manitoba, Ontario and Quebec get preferential and subsided treatment from their hydropower – Alberta and Saskatchewan get raked over the coals because of our oil, gas, and coal. All that equalization money we paid into Canada actually could have built wind and solar farms, rather than a massive carbon tax, Draconian laws, and huge amounts of debt – but what do you think are the odds that any of the provinces with hydro-power subsidizing renewable energy development in oil rich Alberta or Saskatchewan, rather than the other way around?
Instead, they do what the B.C. Liberals do. Shame us for the the oil and gas assets that we DO have, and tell us to buy power from them after the government the diaspora of their traditional supporters voted in kills off our electricity grid.
In Alberta we were duped into thinking just because a Torontonian living in Calgary was the PM, everything would be fine – but everything was not fine and our belief that we actually belonged in this Confederation as equal partners proved to be a lie.
We are a colony.
We always will be a colony, so long as we remain in Canada.
From myself, I hate having to have harsh words like that, but as I feel them to be true, I have no fear in saying them.
Alberta Independence will immediately call into question the viability of B.C. remaining a Canadian province.
Through our history, the only reason B.C. became Canadian and neither an independent nation or join the United States was because railways and roads that pass through Alberta connected it to the rest of Canada.
Especially in lieu of the climate change politics that are ubiquitous in Canadian politics today (especially in the Vancouver/Victoria region), Federalists from Vancouver do not seem to realize that such infrastructure is heretical in a low-carbon world.
The TransCanada highway and the Canadian National Railway were once considered two of the defining symbols of Canadian nation building, in that they connected British Columbia to Eastern Canada. Today they are abominations in a political landscape dominated by low-carbon, climate change policy.
While “the Vancouver Federalist” is a Federal Conservative supporter, he does share one thing in common with Elizabeth May, the Greenies and B.C. liberals on the West Coast who hate Alberta:
They think of themselves as Canadian.
They do not give much thought to the fact that British Columbia is only Canadian because roads and railways that allow British Columbia to transport goods and people into the rest of Canada run first through Alberta.
(My great-great-great grandfather, whose bones lie in the Chinese Pioneer’s cemetery in Calgary, was one of the men defrauded by Canada build the railway.)
When Alberta separates, those connections will be lost and the people of British Columbia will have no choice but to face the fact that the only thing that enabled them to be Canadian in the first place was Alberta.
Although I disagree vehemently with the Federalists in B.C., when Alberta separates, I personally believe we must move past our historical squabbles and for Albertans especially, we must extend the invitation to all British Columbians:
Join us in forming a new nation free from the encumbrances that came with being a part of the old and broken Canada.
Our quarrels are not with one another, they are with Canada.