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Resentment is not enough for Alberta separation Print E-mail
Written by Link Byfield   
Monday, 13 June 2005

The ill political will spreading across the country is putting new heat into Alberta separatism.

I can't point to an opinion poll, but I'm hearing separatism being preached by quite a few new converts--serious, level-headed, successful people. They're saying, "This country is screwed. Let's just get out."

They're upset that no matter how morally bankrupt the Liberals get, the Harper-led Conservatives fail to gain favor in eastern Canada, especially Ontario.

In the past, when the Liberals needed to be humbled, the Conservatives always replaced them for a spell. Even under western leaders like R.B. Bennett, John Diefenbaker and Joe Clark, this was the pattern.

But now, if the polls are to be believed, easterners find it "scary" and "unthinkable" to elect a conservative party led by a westerner.

 What does that tell us?

After four straight national defeats under three different Alberta leaders, it tells us that easterners prefer to be led by thieves than by one of us.

I shudder to think what the reaction in Alberta will be if this happens a fifth time.

It tells us that they'll take our money, but they won't take us.

But before going on, let's first face an awful truth. The blame lies with ourselves as much as with Ottawa.

Our provincial legislators--from all three parties--have submitted to every abuse from Ottawa--medicare penalties, Kyoto, Senate appointments, equalization, endangered species legislation, gun control, the wheat board monopoly, gay marriage, the Canada Pension Plan--the list is long, and getting longer as our billions roll east.

Ontarians didn't elect these spineless legislators, we did.

As for me, I am not a separatist. I believe Canada should be reconstituted using the same principles and assumptions the provinces founded the country on in 1867, updated to deal with present realities.

Albertans can and should force this to happen, <italic>by any means necessary<enditalic>.

It has to start with a formal, historic statement of grievance. The English Parliament did this in 1641, and the American colonial legislatures in 1776. The Alberta Legislature should do it now, listing in blunt language the injustices and abuses inflicted on us.

This needs to be followed by a demand for redress, stated as a clear set of principles. I see four.

One. Provincial and federal governments should be constitutionally limited in size, scope and powers of taxation. The Fathers of Confederation did not foresee the kind of mindless, limitless, soul-destroying government bloat we have today.

Two. Governments should be constitutionally barred from taxing and spending outside their specified fields of jurisdiction, the way Ottawa has done since the 1960s.

Three. Constitutional changes--whether by cabinets or courts--should be submitted to referendum. Our founding fathers, who were far more democratic than we are, would have been appalled by the executive and judicial tyranny we allow today.

Four. National concerns that lie within or affect provincial jurisdiction--medicare, equalization, environment, public pensions, unemployment insurance, etc.--should be arbitrated by a Senate which is provincially elected, equal and effective. The Fathers thought that the House of Commons alone could compel the federal government to respect the constitution. They were wrong.

If Albertans elect a government that lives up to these principles provincially and fights hard for them federally, we'd then have something worth separating over if we can't get them.

But we can neither fix Canada nor leave it if our own provincial government is no better than the rest.
- Link Byfield

Link Byfield is chairman of the Edmonton-based Citizens Centre for Freedom and Democracy, and an Alberta senator-elect.
"Just Between Us" is a feature service of the Citizens Centre for Freedom and Democracy. The purpose of the Citizens Centre is to enhance freedom and democracy by enabling ordinary citizens to become active and effective on important issues outside the normal processes of party politics.

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