Canada is a nation covering a vast landmass. That landmass contains many different resources, resulting in a national economy that is really a bunch of varied provincial economies woven (often loosely) together.
As a result, Canada has many different economic interest groups, all demanding a system that works for their respective region.
And of course, those economic interests quickly become political interests.
Keeping our country together thus requires ensuring that each region is able to make the most of their resources and grow their economy as much as possible.
So, showing favouritism to one region, or blocking the advancement of one regional economy while encouraging others, is the ‘perfect’ way to provoke anger and cause a national unity crisis.
Avoiding a unity crisis is actually quite easy, as the Harper Government showed. Stephen Harper was often quite unpopular in Quebec, yet he was respectful towards Quebec’s economic interests and never used the power of the central government to weaken Quebec’s potential prosperity. As a result, support for separatism in Quebec collapsed during Harper’s term in office and any concern about national unity went away for years.
But now, a new national unity crisis is brewing, and it’s being provoked by the Trudeau government.
The recent Alberta Provincial Election was in many ways a referendum on the Trudeau Liberals. After all, Rachel Notley had (until the last minute), tied herself to an approach of ‘working with’ the Liberal government, imposing a carbon tax and increasing regulations in ‘return’ for what was supposed to be a smooth process for pipeline approval and construction.
That approach failed miserably.
Albertans watched as the regulations and carbon tax were imposed, while the pipelines languished, investment fled, and the economy continued to struggle on brutally.
In response, Jason Kenny and the United Conservatives campaigned on a clear agenda of opposing the policies of the Trudeau Liberals, and taking the shackles off the Alberta energy industry.
Given the choice between a ‘do Trudeau’s bidding’ approach and a ‘confront Trudeau & stand up for Alberta approach,’ Albertans decisively went with the latter, turfing the NDP and giving the UCP a massive win in both popular votes and in seats.
It was an incredibly clear message being sent:
Albertans are sick and tired and aren’t going to take it anymore.
It was also a warning, and a warning delivered in a constructive way.
Kenney has sought to work with Quebec, increase support for Confederation by reworking the equalization system in a way that acknowledges the economic struggles facing Albertans, and has pushed to either re-write or scrap legislation that unfairly discriminates against Alberta’s oil and Western Canadian resources.
Looking at all of that, we can see that Jason Kenney’s agenda would help bring Canadians closer together. Nobody believes that Quebec would be upset if Alberta got its way economically. It’s quite possible to both support Alberta’s economy and support Quebec’s economy. In fact, that’s the only way to really keep Canada together.
This gives Trudeau a golden opportunity to stem the growing national unity crisis.
Yet, Trudeau has ignored that opportunity.
He’s ignored the righteous anger of Albertans, he’s ignored Jason Kenney’s effort against C-48 & C-69, and he’s ignored the voices of Western Canadians.
By forcing through Bills C-69 and C-48, and by ignoring the amendments put forth by Alberta and Canada’s energy businesses, while also refusing to re-open the equalization formula, Trudeau has sent a message of his own to Alberta.
And that message is “shut up, keep giving your money to the federal government, keep producing wealth that gets taken from you, and keep competing with both hands tied behind your back.”
Basically, Albertans are being told to accept de facto economic enslavement, in which they fund much of the rest of Canada, while the very source of that funding is restricted and strangled by the same federal government taking the money away in the first place.
How messed up is that?
And people are seeing this, which is why it’s no surprise that support for separatism is rising.
The ignorance and contempt on display from the Trudeau government is appalling. The fact is that on the current course of the Liberal government, the righteous anger in Alberta is only going to get worse.
That means the next leader of Alberta after Jason Kenney will likely not only be more aggressive, but will be far less supportive of Canadian Confederation. If Kenney’s approach doesn’t work because Trudeau refuses to let it work, then Albertans will be 100% justified in electing someone who takes an even tougher approach. And many will look at Quebec and think that ‘since Quebec has had so much success threatening separation, maybe that’s what has to happen next.’
As much as the left tries to demonize him, the fact is that Jason Kenney is an expression of the righteous anger that is being directed in a way the seeks to keep Canada together and reduce support for rising separatist sentiment.
With some polls already showing support for separatism in Alberta at 50%, the reality is that a national unity crisis is already here. And while I’ve explained above how that crisis can easily be brought to an end, the Trudeau Liberals clearly have no intention of doing anything to stop it. To the contrary, they seem to be doing everything possible to accelerate the collapse of Canadian Confederation.
Because of that, the upcoming federal election is about more than just who will lead our next federal government. It may determine whether Canada survives as a unified country.