It’s 1980 all over again.
In the federal election that year (the election that returned Pierre Trudeau to power after Joe Clark’s brief national recess), the unofficial motto of the Liberal war room was “Screw the west, we’ll take the rest!”
Given the anti-Alberta, anti-oil rhetoric of the past week from Pierre’s son, Justin, it’s easy to imagine the current Liberals have decided to write off Alberta and most of the rest of the west (Manitoba, Saskatchewan and the interior of B.C.) in favour of pandering to voters in Quebec, the Greater Toronto Area and Vancouver in hopes of clinging on to at least a minority.
Trudeau 1.0 restored a Liberal majority even though he and his party willfully screwed the west. What followed was the National Energy Program that devastated the west’s economy for nearly a decade.
Now, judging by his words in the past week, Trudeau 2.0 is getting set to make the west, especially Alberta, Confederation’s pariah in hopes of holding on to power, even just a minority.
In the first round of last week’s French-language leaders’ debate, Trudeau promised to “stand up to oil interests.” He clearly meant Alberta’s new UCP government, it’s energy information war room, and any oil company or consortium that tries to revive a pipeline from the west, through Quebec, to Atlantic Canada.
The Liberals killed Energy East two years ago because it was unpopular in Quebec. Now, with the anti-oil Bloc Quebecois breathing down their necks in this election, the Liberals are signalling they are prepared to quash any attempt to resurrect Energy East or a similar pipeline.
I’m not going to threaten that Alberta will leave if central Canada, Vancouver and the Atlantic provinces foist Trudeau on the country again. But the anger and resentment created by his attacks on Alberta will not go away (or even subside) after next Monday’s vote.