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Is western separation inevitable? Print E-mail
Written by Link Byfield   
Sunday, 27 August 2006
I always get a kick out of Roger Gibbins, political scientist, newspaper columnist, and current president of the Canada West Foundation.

A week ago (August 21) he was in the Toronto Star predicting $200 oil and the separation of Alberta, followed by B.C. and Saskatchewan.

Perhaps he was merely suggesting it could happen. He presented it as a hypothetical scenario, with a lot of fanciful details.

The thing about fictional future disasters is that they all sound unlikely -- until they actually happen.

Dr. Gibbins’ certainly does to me. In his imaginary future, the rebellion and departure of Alberta will not happen because Ottawa takes our money, but because in a quest for more oil it messes up our environment.

Okay, Ottawa, you can steal our money and wreck our economy -- but we’re loading our guns if you allow drilling in the Whaleback.

Where Dr. Gibbins and I are of one mind is that Canada stands a strong chance of breaking apart. Whether it’s explicitly over petroleum revenues, or over deep differences in political values, or because eastern Canada is an economic anchor around our necks, the risk is very real.

All these factors have all been at work for a long time, slowly but steadily corroding the bonds of national union.

Speaking personally, I once felt that the sooner it’s over the better. Even Preston Manning and the Reform Party seemed a mere prelude to the inevitable.

Though more and more people now think this way, I no longer do. It’s very possible, but not inevitable.

Canada presents an odd parallel with the Soviet Union. The USSR went on decade after decade, seemingly permanent and invincible. And then it just quietly collapsed, because nobody would lift a muscle to save it -- not even the generals. People simply didn’t believe in it anymore.

Like the USSR, Canadian union has come to be based on a disgusting combination of economic delusions, historical falsehoods, disregard for the constitution, and a bloated, self-serving, self-perpetuating political class that puts entitlement before responsibility.

Don’t start a business, join a union. If you do start a business, get a grant. Better yet, join the government and get paid for getting in the way.

The solutions to all this are simple enough in theory. Make Ottawa stop paying for waste and needless dependency. Return responsibility to the provinces. Reform the Senate. Get a rein on the judiciary.

But they are difficult in practice. Having trained us all to lie, politicians and bureaucrats can no longer speak the truth, and honest people have pretty much tuned out.

But before we write off what was once a very good country, we owe it to those who built it to understand what they achieved, and to fix it if it can be fixed.

As citizens, we must spell out for ourselves in simple language the principles needed for national survival and success, and see if governments will implement them.

That’s the purpose of the three-day Calgary Congress the Citizens Centre is hosting on September 29. I think it’s significant that the Government of Canada is sending official greetings via MP Jason Kenney, parliamentary secretary to the Prime Minister.

We’d love to see you there. Who knows, you might even meet Roger Gibbins.

- 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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