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Sunday, August 28, 2005

How the National Energy Program created the Reform Party of Canada

Thanks to Kate McMillan, here, you can find a retrospective of the development of Alberta's oil patch and various attempts to suck petro-dollars out of Alberta into central Canada, culminating in the biggest cash grab of all, the National Energy Program (NEP).

Calgary Grit had a counter-retrospective on his blog, here,  awhile ago that repeated certain myths about central Canada's relationship to Alberta.

The biggest lie of all is that central Canada helped Alberta during the dirty thirties. Ain't so. The Government of Alberta went hat in hand to central Canadian banks to restructure Alberta's debt, and they sought loan guarantees from the Government of Canada to take to the central Canadian banks. Both the central Canadian banks and the Canadian government turned Alberta down flat.

Things got so bad that by 1938, there was talk of merging Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba into one province, and the three Maritime provinces into another.

But the legend of central Canada's helping Alberta when the province was down and out is just that: a legend, a fiction that some occasionally find useful for their own purposes.

When Ernest Manning succeeded William Aberhart as Alberta's premier in 1943, he went elsewhere for financing to a consortium of New York City banks led by Chase Manhattan. Chase Manhattan was only too glad to take the risk, and Alberta proved to be good for it. Leduc No. 1 kicked off the Alberta oil industry in 1947, and Ernest Manning created a system of oil leases and royalties that is a model throughout the world, including in such far-flung oil producers as Azerbaijan.

But the Socreds can't take all the credit. The United Farmers fought hard with federal support from the Progressives to put Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and to a lesser extent, B.C., on the same footing as the other provinces. Till the 1930 constitutional amendment (Constitution Act, 1930), Manitoba, Alberta, and Saskatchewan did not control the Crown lands (public lands) inside their borders, and B.C. didn't control the Crown lands of the "Peace River Bloc" in northeastern B.C. Now they do, unlike the states of Nevada, Arizona, and others whose public lands are mostly owned and controlled by the federal U.S. government.

If you haven't read Robert Mansell's analysis of how much money -- both real and lost -- the NEP sucked out of Alberta, you should. I think the total came to something like $135 billion.

When the Mulroney Government came to power in September 1984, Albertans expected that the NEP would be rescinded immediately. But it wasn't. Not until the world market price for a barrel of oil fell below the NEP's artificially set price for a barrel of oil did the Mulroney Government rescind the NEP in 1986. That fact gave impetus for the creation of the Reform Party of Canada by a group of former Tory activists and voters led by Preston Manning, starting with the Vancouver meeting in 1986, and culminating in the creation of a new party in 1987.

I was out of the country in grad school, and didn't join till 1990 while I was still living in Illinois. When I moved back to Canada -- to Calgary -- in 1991, I got actively involved ending up working for the Reform Party on Parliament Hill from 1994 to 1999.

Those early days were heady ones for the Reform Caucus. Ask anyone who was there. But Reformers made some key strategic and tactical errors that should be avoided in the repeating. Reformers thought it was enough to be a populist movement. It wasn't. Institutions have power, and power is wielded by institutions. Reformers failed to respect the institutions of Parliament and of Canadian politics, and to use them to proper advantage. Parliament is the House of Commons and the Senate, the cabinet, the PMO and PCO (the public service), the courts, and the Queen represented by the Governor-General -- taken together. You could argue that the Press Gallery is an adjunct to Parliament. Reformers failed to use the House of Commons, had contempt for the Senate, didn't really understand how to use divisions in cabinet, said and did things that were off-putting to the public service who included a number of types who were sympathetic in principle to what Reformers were trying to do. The same was true of media relations in which they were alternately openly hostile, or treated individual members of the Press Gallery as if they were friends to whom they could speak off the record. It took at least two years before Reformers were up to speed on media relations. On the other fronts, there's some doubt they figured it out before the creation of the Alliance or, even, the merger.

There's a number of things that are at the Opposition's disposal in Parliament, but controlling the order paper is not one of them. For those who are interested as to what those things might be, I'd be happy to compare ideas with those who might be in a position to act.

I'll conclude with a note to Alberta separatists. I understand the disaffection many Albertans have with Canada. And I don't believe that our present federation is the only way that Canadians can flourish. Constitutions are not eternal. Rome rose and fell. So did Byzantium. So did western European Christendom. So did the British Empire (or, "morphed" into the Commonwealth). Canada is not eternal. I think the NEP did an injustice to Alberta. I was there. I saw the damage to people and their lives at the micro level of businesses and farms going under because of the NEP, irrespective of the macro-economic consequences. I get it. But if Alberta were to pull out, Alberta would lose access to the FTA, NAFTA, various bilateral commissions, and various other bilateral arrangements between Canada and the U.S. Further, Alberta might well lose access to the Canadian market without tariff and other trade barriers. As Preston Manning once pointed out, it took fifty years for the division of the Province of Canada into Ontario and Quebec to be completed.

Finally, I think Alberta is well-positioned to take the lead in the Canadian Confederation for the next fifty years. But only if Alberta stays. Alberta aspires to leadership with a national scope in the federation. Alberta should lead the way. Alberta can lead the way, but only as part of Canada.
(Cross-posted from Burkean Canuck).

Posted by Russ Kuykendall on August 28, 2005 in Canadian Politics | Permalink


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» Long on Memory, Short on Foresight from What Future?
If there’s one thing Alberta knows, it’s oil. We’ve got cheap gas, the big trucks to burn it, and most importantly, the infrastructure of wells, pipes and refineries to get it from the tar sands and oil fields to the gas pumps. The p... [Read More]

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Russ Kuykendall provides a little history clarification in his post on how the National Energy Program created the Reform Party of Canada; The biggest lie of all is that central Canada helped Alberta during the dirty thirties. Ain't so. The... [Read More]

Tracked on 2005-08-29 11:45:13 AM


One line says it all:

"Albertans often feel they were sold out to protect Ontario consumers but that’s the nature of confederation."

That's incredible, truly stunning.

When the Second NEP comes down, and Alberta is ruined once again, secession will be our only option.

Posted by: Scott | 2005-08-28 4:24:26 PM

Canada is merely an euphemism for Ontario and it's colonial possessions.

Canada, as it is constituted, has never existed. Canada is a cruel hoax perpetrated to enslave Albertans and steal Alberta's resources which are Alberta's future.

We'll see how much of 'Canada' continues to exist when Alberta becomes a sovereign nation and what Canada's bilateral and other trade agreements are worth then.

Ontario has nothing Albertan's need. Alberta can form her own trade agreements with the Americans.

I was newly married when the NEP destroyed my economic prospects for the next ten years. I joined the Reform Party in 1990 and worked for them until they spat on the concept of 'grass roots' by holding the Saskatoon Conference in Sask rather than in Calgary, where most of the current membership was concentrated. While constantly giving lip service to the 'grass roots' democracy, they pulled a topdown leadership highjack of the grassroots agenda, using delegates, and allowed riding associations to be formed in Ontario. That's what killed the Reform Party's tremendous platform.

Now there is no Reform Party and Albertan's have wasted nearly twenty years following Preston Manning's 'the West Wants In' long march to nowhere.

Enough of this 'Alberta can get a square deal in Canada snakeoil'. Ontario is Canada and Ontario is corrupt.

As an Albertan, I'm not waiting for the second coming of Preston Manning. I want to see the second coming of Rene' Leveque.

Posted by: Speller | 2005-08-28 4:57:08 PM

I agree with Speller. The Reform Party was hijacked the old PC hacks who needed work after their party was obliterated. I too look forward to the second coming of Rene Levesque, or a Preston Manning with enough balls to lead Alberta out of the central Canadian basement onto the world stage.


Posted by: underemployed buddha | 2005-08-28 5:53:02 PM

The federal government guaranteed loans on the Western provinces during the depression to prevent them from going bankrupt. Yeah, it was in their best interest to do so to keep Canadian credit ratings high, but the federal government has helped the prairie provinces at many times in Canadian history. Just look up all the subsidies that have been given to Canadian farmers over the years.

Posted by: CalgaryGrit | 2005-08-28 5:54:37 PM

Annie "Got-Your-Guns" shooting from the teeth. Western Standard is a "right-leaning" mag. "They" noticed that; how clever: Code for, forget 'em, a bunch of rednecks from Alberty.>>>>>>>>>>

CTV.ca News Staff

Updated: Sun. Aug. 28 2005 6:34 PM ET

While Deputy Prime Minister Anne McLellan contends that there is discontent among western Canadians, she says recent talk of separation is "vastly overblown."

McLellan, who is the Liberal MP for the Edmonton Centre riding, was referring to a recent poll that suggested at least one-third of western Canadians think it's time for their provinces to consider forming their own nation.

The poll was commissioned by Western Standard magazine, a right-leaning bimonthly news and opinion magazine.

"I think there is discontent in relation to certain things, there is some concern," McLellan said in an interview that aired Sunday on CTV's Question Period.

"But having said that, I think we need to be careful about the language we use, and I think the language of separation or alienation overstates that which is the real feeling of the vast majority of westerners."

The Liberals assert that they have made attempts to reach out to western Canadians.

Earlier, Finance Minister Ralph Goodale indicated that holding last week's caucus meeting in Regina was a "helpful step" toward conquering alienation in Western Canada.

McLellan also noted that Prime Minister Paul Martin will visit both Saskatchewan and Alberta next week to celebrate both provinces centennial

Posted by: maz2 | 2005-08-28 6:33:47 PM

maz2: McLellan is neither an Albertan nor in touch with Albertans. It is in the best interest of the corporate/Liberal regime to dismiss us. I can't say that I blame them - after all, it is easy to underestimate Liberal support in Alberta (2 instead of 1).

We may seem small now, but when Martin and Layton bring down the Second NEP to appease Ontario, our numbers will swell.

Posted by: Scott | 2005-08-28 6:52:46 PM

Nice cut and paste comment maz2.

"The Liberals assert that they have made attempts to reach out to western Canadians."

Perhaps I misconstrued the rejection of Alberta's democratically elected senators, being supplanted by sycophant court jesters appointed by Paul Martin, as a FOAD from the Liberal Party of Canada.

Is this the 'tough love' Jean Chretien was talking about? Love hurts.

Posted by: Speller | 2005-08-28 6:53:38 PM

Ernest Manning alluded to the fact that the East wasn't interested in Alberta's oil nor a pipeline (a protracted debate in Parliment) to deliver such until 1973 when Opec made Venezuelan oil more expensive to Eastern Canada than previously. By then Alberta was receiving the world price from the US. From that point on Alberta subsidized Eastern oil prices, a reciprical agreement the East would have no part of earlier.

If the upcoming Federal election doesn't replace the Grits with the CPC, VIVE L'ALBERTA LIBRE!!!!

If BC and Saskatchewan had any collective brains, they would go too.

Posted by: John Chittick | 2005-08-28 6:57:54 PM

John, the other provinces, including Sask and BC, will discover their 'brains' as soon as Alberta becomes a nation.

Posted by: Speller | 2005-08-28 7:03:51 PM


The aide given to prairie farmers is a small pittance in comparison to the windfall that Bombardier , Air Canada , etc, have recieved for decades. This was our money anyway. All Alberta farmers, as well as other prairie farmers, want is the same marketing options as Ontario. Goodbye CWB. And Russ, Canada as we loved it, died in the 60's. If Alberta were a free nation today, would we join the shit pile that Canada has become? We don't need anything that Canada has to offer.

Posted by: Bazoo | 2005-08-28 7:20:16 PM

I have committed myself to the Albertan Independance Cause and soon many will. Why? Why not? There are more negatives for us to be yoked to Canada than positives. Alberta is many things but we are not a benevolent charity to fund socialist redistributive funds to our poorer, less savvy, and yes lazier (Sunday Shopping Ban?) provinces to the east.

Especially when all we get for our forced charity is a kick in the balls.

Posted by: Jimbo Jones | 2005-08-28 7:23:43 PM

"McLellan also noted that Prime Minister Paul Martin will visit both Saskatchewan and Alberta next week to celebrate both provinces centennial"

Yep, the throwing arm feels good and the tomatoes are real juicy and ripe like.

Posted by: underemployed buddha | 2005-08-28 7:26:34 PM

When Martin comes, he'll make a speech that will send shivers up our spines. He'll say how lucky Canada is that we're in Confederation, and vice versa, and how cooperation is better than confrontation. Then he'll go back to Ottawa, announce the 2nd NEP, and make his name in Canadian history as the man who forced Alberta to secede.

I think Vice-President Cheney will receive a warmer response when he visits the week after.

Posted by: Scott | 2005-08-28 7:39:38 PM

The tactics of the Liberals to 'reach out' seem to be, well, a bit predictable. Indeed, they are positively medieval. The Liberal contempt for the people is so enormous, that their interactions with Canadians have become reduced to constant manipulation.

That is - they ignore the democratic voice of the people (e.g., those three elected Senators in Alberta, the concern about SSM, Adscam, etc) and instead, if there are voices raised 'by the people', the Liberal reaction is to ignore the voices...and come on a PR visit. They use taxpayer money, to 'visit' the peasants. They show up at some ceremony, they wave, have their pictures taken, hold a meeting...and that's the end of that. The aristocracy of old Russia could do no better.

Remember - they ignore the elected voices of the people in the House of Commons; they routinely ignore the House, they routinely and always refuse to answer questions. They refuse to be held accountable for their actions; when we oppose them, they tell us we are 'marginal'; we are 'unCanadian'.

What did they do with the financial needs of Toronto, during the SARS epidemic? No money; instead, the Liberals, at taxpayer expense, flew to Toronto, to hold a caucus meeting there rather than in Ottawa. That was to show the peasants that, If the Lords and Ladies of the aristocracy felt safe, well...we peasants should feel OK too.

What did Chretien do, during the Mad Cow ...?? He had a photo taken of himself, eating beef.

The tactics of the Liberals, in dealing with 'dissent among the peasants' is always the same. They will publicly deny that the questions raised are relevant, valid, they'll publicly state that concern exists only among the deviant...and then, when things get a bid sticky...they will show up, in their limousines, attend some Open House, have their picture taken, and fly back to Ottawa with their camp followers.

The enormous power of patronage, that our system hands over on a platter to the elected Party, means that whoever wins that election, has the power to appoint THEIR political agents to these 3,000 and more positions. It means that they control the country. The Liberals have no intention of listening to the people, or moving into a democratic mode of governance. Their tactics will remain the same - manipulation, cajoling, refusing to answer questions, lying, ad hominem....all - to retain the major facets of power in Canada - the Power of Patronage.

Posted by: ET | 2005-08-28 7:43:55 PM

"He", of course, was "Jimmy" Gardiner, a good old Presbyterian Liberal, the patronage boss in the West, par excellence, for King.
The solution: (don't throw those tomatoes), is easy: run/elect another "Jimmy" and win big. Now, the question remains: Which "Jimmy", which Party?>>>>>>
The answer is within your grasp, with one proviso: Will the new "Jimmy" carry enough seats east of Winnipeg to form a government? Seems he would if a Lieberal. Dief did it; but, "they" got him/got to him.>>>>>

"He retained the Premiership until 1929. In the elections of this year the Liberals formed the largest group, but as Conservatives and the Progressive Party united, the Liberals were unable to hold power. For five years he led the Opposition in the Legislature. In 1934 the Liberal Party swept the Province, not one government candidate being returned. As leader of the Party he again became Premier. In 1935 when the Liberal Party won the Federal elections and Mackenzie King was called to form a cabinet Mr. Gardiner was invited to be Minister of Agriculture for the Dominion of Canada, which position he accepted, and held until the Liberal Government was defeated in 1957."

Posted by: maz2 | 2005-08-28 7:44:20 PM

Calgary Grit:

The federal government refused loan guarantees for Alberta in the 30s despite the Government of Alberta's best efforts to secure them. The province was effectively bankrupt, unable to service its debt or restructure it, till Premier Manning secured financing from the Chase Manhattan-led consortium of NYC bankers. Yours is a fiction -- a useful fiction, but a fiction all the same.

To the Alberta separatists: Be very careful what you wish for -- separation could cost Alberta more than it yields. There's much to complain about how Alberta is treated, but the difference between 1981 and now is the clout Alberta can wield by virtue of its burgeoning population, GDP growth, and the oil patch's being responsible for most of Canada's positive balance of trade. The feds can't afford to cook the golden goose with another NEP. If they did, the Canadian economy would go into the proverbial toilet.

Posted by: Russ Kuykendall | 2005-08-28 7:55:00 PM

I forgot Dick Cheney was coming to visit Alberta. I bet our home grown trust fund babies will be there to greet him. A great scabious pox on'em

Posted by: circe | 2005-08-28 8:01:09 PM


Indeed the cost of Alberta seperation would be great. For the rest of Canada not Alberta. How could it be worse than what we pay now with no supstantial return? Where is our triple E senate, why don't we elect our supreme court judges, why does the PMO hold such power? I can understand that as an Easterner, however new, you wish to preserve this doomed dominion but enough is enough. We have waited too long. It's done.

Posted by: Bazoo | 2005-08-28 8:07:16 PM


A key thing for Alberta's economy is its access to U.S. markets. If Alberta were to withdraw from the Canadian Confederation, Alberta couldn't count on remaining party to the FTA, NAFTA, or various other bilateral agreements between Canada and the U.S. The Americans would be in a position to negotiate terms more favourable to them than Alberta now enjoys as part of Canada. Also, Alberta would by no means be guaranteed free access to Canadian markets.

I favour a triple-'E' Senate on principle, but most people fail to understand the consequences ot it. As things are now, Alberta's clout in Parliament increases with its population and representation in the House of Commons. While the Senate has formal powers, it generally defers to the Commons and declines to exercise its constitutional powers. It declines to do so because it lacks democratic legitimacy. If the federal government wants to negotiate with the provinces, it must go directly to the premiers. But if a triple-'E' Senate were the case, the federal government could argue that the interests of the provinces are already represented in the federal Parliment by the Senate. The federal government could argue that it need not negotiate with the premiers to get provincial approval. It would just send its proposals to the Senate for an up-or-down division.

Posted by: Russ Kuykendall | 2005-08-28 8:21:14 PM

Ok Russ we will stay providing:
1. Trudeaus charter is made into dust.
2. Triple E senate.
3. Redistribution of seats to equalize provinces by population.
4. Repeal SSM law. (Gettin rid of the charter might solve this one)
5. Elected judges.
6. Provincial resources untouchable by the Feds.
7. More decentralization ( read ET's past comments)
8. Assimilation of natives

Cant think of any more demands at the moment but thats a start.

Posted by: MikeP | 2005-08-28 8:22:20 PM


I'm still throwing tomatoes.

Posted by: underemployed buddha | 2005-08-28 8:23:04 PM

Independence will indeed be a costly, frustrating and difficult experience. But no one said freedomw as free. After Independence, the United States was in terrible shape. High debts, weak economy, states distrusted each other as much as they did the new federal government. Slavery divided everyone. Yet they made the effort to forge ahead despite the costs.

When we declare independence, we'll have to face both the US and Canadian governments. Canada will be hostile, and the US will be uncertain and clumsy. But cooperation with both is absoutely essential. We do have the advantage of our gas and oil, which both require so it would smooth things. But the Confederacy thought its cotton exports would get Britain and France to intervene on her side. They were wrong. Yet they too pressed ahead, albeit hindered by the horrors of slavery.

Is secession worth the enormous costs in money, personal connections and loyalties? My answer is yes. I desire a free Alberta so I can keep my job, my home and my lifestyle. These things are threatened by Ottawa and Ontario's combined assault on Alberta. We can't live like this anymore. A time will come when we have to say "no more!" and take the risks. For our present and future, we have to make that decision soon.

Posted by: Scott | 2005-08-28 8:25:08 PM

Oil is closing near $70.00 US and climbing. I don't think Alberta will have any problem negotiating deals favorable to us with the USA or the far east for all of our resourses. The rest of Canada needs Alberta's resourses more than we need theirs so again negotiated deals are a must for them. As for seaports and shipping BC would recognize a golden goose very soon and be onside. If the gist of your arguement for Alberta remaining in confederation is negotiated trade agreements it's pretty thin. What substantial economic or political benefit does Alberta gain in remaining in Canada?

Posted by: Bazoo | 2005-08-28 8:50:28 PM

"Copy and Paste": by AdScam Martin & the Librano$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$; Get your brown envelopes (euphemism for cash) here>>>>>>>>>>>>

Martin considers early Parliament recall
OTTAWA (CP) - The Liberal government is thinking of recalling Parliament early from its summer recess to deal with the trade dispute that's heating up with the United States over softwood lumber. Prime Minister Paul Martin's office says it's too soon to say if MPs will actually be called back to Ottawa before the currently scheduled date of Sept. 26.$$$$$$$$$$$$$

>>>>> Polls, where are the polls?

Posted by: maz2 | 2005-08-28 8:52:05 PM

Alberta's human rights commission has been a tool of the same folks who pushed SSM via the Supreme Court of Canada. Yet when push comes to shove, on "values" issues, Premier Klein has consistently sided with social liberals against social conservatives. The problem you allude to about Trudeau's Charter and SSM isn't limited to federal institutions.

As I've outlined above, a triple-'E' Senate would vest more political power in the federal Parliament and take it away from the provincial government and legislature. I find it curious that a separatist would want that.

I favour rep-by-pop for the Commons. And, frankly, Alberta has less to complain about than Ontario and B.C.

I don't favour elected judges for the same reason I don't favour judicial appointments being under the discretion of the federal cabinet. Both approaches make judicial independence suspect. When judges' appointments are an expression of the federal cabinet's (the PM's) favour, judges who are lined up with the party in power will be appointed. Same happens with elected judges, albeit they count on popular favour. I want judges that must face a Parliamentary examination in full public view, and having passed that review are appointed with full, judicial independence.

Provincial resources are virtually untouchable under Section 92A, Constitution Act, 1867. To overcome the protections of Section 92A effectively, if not formally, requires a bilateral agreement between the federal government and the province whose resources are affected. Trudeau was able to bring in the NEP because he got Premier Lougheed's approval. Only later did Mr. Lougheed oppose the NEP -- a policy to which he had been party. Mr. Lougheed was good at playing the politics with fed-bashing, but very nearly lethal to Alberta on policy. I'd rather have a premier who did less fed-bashing, and got done policy favourable to Alberta.

Canada already has a fairly decentralized federation. The Government of Alberta could institute a provincial police force, but it declines. The Gov't of Alberta could exercise more influence oiver immigration to Alberta, but it generally delines. The Gov't of Alberta does have a rep in the Cdn embassy in D.C. Albertans could be fanning across the country, buying up stock and companies, and starting new enterprises, like the Taiwanese have done across Asia. That would shift economic power even further to Alberta away from Bay Street.

On Indian policy, I favour a policy that would encourage the flourishing of the members of the bands. Indians are effectively integrated with Canadian society as it is. Most Indians are Christian. The obstacle is a policy that rewards band gov't corruption. To paraphrase his lordship, "Free money corrupts. Free gov't money corrupts absolutely."

Posted by: Russ Kuykendall | 2005-08-28 8:56:12 PM

I like MikeP's 8 points and I'm from Ontario!

Posted by: Michael Dabioch | 2005-08-28 8:58:58 PM


You seem to have an accurate grasp of what irks us Westerners and have listed them in your posts. You don't , however, have an answer to these problems other than (wait awile longer) it will get better as Alberta grows in confederation. We have been hearing this for 25 years or more. Too long. It will nerer happen. We loudly protested Kioto,The Gun Registry, SSM, CWB, Bilingulism, etc. We are NEVER heard. We need the power to stop these backward programs from changing our way of life. These issues are extremely important to us and we need to take control of them now. I will close by once again asking, What substantial economic or political benefit does Alberta gain by remaining in Canada?

Posted by: Bazoo | 2005-08-28 9:19:05 PM

John Chittic and Scott have given Russ an answer that is definitive. Russ, you say Alberta could 'lead' in the confederation. We know who is running the show in Rottawa and Ont/Que. - they are not 'da liddle guys' like you and me. Why would the fine people of Alberta want to associate with the likes of them?

The patronization of the west by Liberals and some easterners reaks!! The stink is from the Liberano Party and their seedy 'me too' group, the NDP. It is a Conservative majority that is required just to open 'talks'. We have taken the road you suggest before - fool me once, you are a fool, fool me twice, I am a fool. I don't believe westerner's are the fools the Liberano's HOPE we are. The Liberanos want the West to elect Conservatives so they will have some people to 'lift'(steal) good ideas from; then MSM will, as always, give the Liberals credit - meanwhile they will fleece the west and 'repopulate' it with Liberano voters. If that isn't the plan, you tell me what the plan is - appoint elected senators? (PMPM said NO), scrap the gun registry?, appoint a different GG?, scrap the Wheat Board?, scrap SSM? I'd really like to know.

BTW the PRODUCTIVE areas of Sask and BC will join Alta right away. Take a 'poll' in the Cypress Hills in Sask. for starters. Then ask Kamloops, The Peace River and the OK Valley Residents. I lived in Salmon Arm when Trudeau drove by on the Centenial train (1967) flipping the revolting 'finger' at the people who had come to see the train and to protest his stupid idea to sent our fruit to Ont. to be shipped overseas. Nice, really nice memories of Liberals from day 1 - ask the old veteran's how much they like the "Pearson' flag. Sorry for the long run on post.

Posted by: Jema54 | 2005-08-28 9:44:51 PM

I still have vivid memories of driving back from Edmonton late one night on my way home - north to the tar sands oil patch - and listening to Peter Lougheed in an radio address to Albertans about what the province was facing in its showdown over the NEP.

The memory is vivid because it had so much similarity those delivered in times of war.

If those in central and eastern Canada love this country as much as they profess, they will never again submit to politicians who attempt to exploit the resource wealth of western Canada to their electoral advantage.

Another trip down that road will lead to the destruction of this country. We will not abide it again.

Posted by: Kate | 2005-08-28 9:50:28 PM

Let's assume for a crazy second that Paul Martin is serious about Senate reform because the liberals need to win votes in the West in order to form a majority government. From a Liberal strategist's perspective, this could be one of their Senate reform blueprints:

Seat distribution:

BC – 12
AB – 12
SK – 6
MB - 6
ON – 12
QC - 24
NB - 6
NS - 6
PEI - 3
NF - 6
Territories - 3

If implemented, what impact could this have on Liberal fortunes west of Manitoba?

Posted by: Doug | 2005-08-28 10:20:18 PM


You are missing the equal part of EEE. I will clairify.

BC 12
AB 12
SK 12
MB 12
ON 12
PQ 12
NB 12
NS 12
NL 12
PI 12

Ontario and Quebec will never allow this. Thats the rub.

Posted by: Bazoo | 2005-08-28 10:37:13 PM


We're talking about Liberals doing a reform... Even in a dreamworld as I'm depicting, double EE would be the liberal's likely compromise....

Posted by: Doug | 2005-08-28 10:40:01 PM

You can pretty much toss out effective too.

Posted by: Bazoo | 2005-08-28 10:49:18 PM

Doug, as an Alberta Nationalist, I'm in no mood for Liberal compromises, CPC either.

Maybe you can explain to me the Liberal compromise in the NEP.

What was the last Liberal promise regarding the west? That Paul Martin would 'reach out' and make the West feel less alienated?

I am enraged about Kyoto, the $2 Billion Gun Registry, SSM, the $137 Billion NEP, the corruption in Ottawa, chain immigration, the FOIP Act, Multiculturalism, the $40 Billion Debt Writeoff to Africa, the theft of the $430 Million Tsunami Aid Money, the jailing of Alberta wheat farmers, the failure to protect our borders against illegal cattlefeed leading to BSE in our beef, the third rate Chinese crap we are forced to buy from retail outlets, the Stalinist Canada Healthcare system, the Young Offenders Act, the Crow rate, corruption in the RCMP, the overtaxation, zero accountability, the democratic deficit, and the lack of any mechanisim to correct ANY of it.

Compromises? Canada really doesn't matter any more. You can't polish a turd.

Posted by: Speller | 2005-08-29 12:06:42 AM

Russ: "Provincial resources are virtually untouchable under Section 92A, Constitution Act, 1867."

If that's true, how did NEP I happen? Liberal 'magic' that's how; the same way NEP II will (Kyoto carbon tax via order in council), that's how.

Albertans have an advantage that we didn't have in the 70's ... the pain of living through HELL.

We will NOT go gently into that good night again.

Posted by: Candace | 2005-08-29 1:46:41 AM

Re: An Independent Alberta.

Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

Posted by: underemployed buddha | 2005-08-29 6:58:43 AM

Remember the famous phrase - 'No taxation without representation'? Well, that's the situation in the West right now. Would more representation be the answer? No.

Twenty years ago, the people of the West weren't strong enough to protest the abuse of the West; those who did protest were easy to marginalize - and Ottawa is very good at marginalizing people. It's very different now.

BUT - watch what the Liberals are going to do in Ottawa this fall. They have dealt with Quebec's anger by the deliberate selection of 'one of their own', Ms Jean, as G-G. I reject that this was an act of a bumbling Martin; it was a very clever election strategy by the BackRoom Boys of the Liberal Party - and it will provide lots of votes for them in Quebec.
Now- what will they do with the rumblings from the West? Their first tactic will be a PR strategy that: 1. the rumblings don't exist; 2. any such anger is marginal. Remember, dissent isn't allowed in Canada; it's 'unCanadian'. 3. They'll try to split Westerners - informing them that those who 'keep the money' from a 'natural resource'..are selfish. There'll be a LOT of talk about 'arrogant selfish Westerners'. 4. They'll paint the West as 'American-influenced' and 'unCanadian'. 5. They'll insist that the CPC speaks only for those 'selfish Westerners'. 6. There'll be a lot of PR about how the rest of Canada are 'unselfish'.

I don't see how Canada can continue within its current infrastructure. It has led to enormous corruption, the type of corruption that isn't acceptable, that can't be 'tidied up' and that is economically disastrous.

The corruption is due to a centralized governance, operating without checks and balances. The US and Australia, for example, long ago rejected both this centralization and this 'noblesse oblige' refusal of checks and balances; they chose equality of representation, decentralization, and checks and balances.

The rejection of such, in Canada, has led to a political governance where the electorate controls only about one-tenth of the governance of the country. The majority of authority is appointed - and appointed without review, without vetting, without accountability, and from one office - that of the PM. This means that the 'elected Party', which may have only 100 seats, is handed control over about 3,000 unelected positions of power! The other elected parties have no voice, no control, no power over the activities of this huge 'political mass'. It's completely corrupt because these appointments have all become thoroughly politicized; they are all - Liberal appointees.

The Constitution has to be rewritten. I opt for an extreme decentralization, with the federal powers severely reduced. Patronage must end; any appointments must be vetted and are audited and accountable. An elected, and equal Senate. The post of G-G is gone. Bilingualism is gone - for its has enabled this vast corruption by limiting the percentage of the population who can operate in Ottawa to a self-defining Montreal-Ottawa clique. Equalization is gone as well and the focus is on self-organized and self-sustaining areas of the country.

Posted by: ET | 2005-08-29 7:22:22 AM

Let the eastern bastards freeze in the dark.

Posted by: Nastyboy | 2005-08-29 8:07:52 AM

"... Alberta can lead the way, but only as part of Canada."

Wow - excuse me while I get a tissue to wipe away these tears.

I prefer the line in the Silverchair song to best sum up Alberta's place in Canada:

"Come on, abuse me more I like it"

Posted by: John Brown | 2005-08-29 8:27:59 AM

Kyoto, and the inevitable revenue raids of Alberta's resource wealth will, and is, creating a backlash political movement that will make Reform seem moderate by comparison...watch for it it's coming....it will arrive full strength after the next federal election campaign in which the liberals will distract public memory of their ample scandals and disasterous management with a crusade to raid Alberta's wealth and subjugate the "blue-eyed sheiks" to the eastern illuminati and their nanny state iron fist of nepotism.

Posted by: WLMackenzie redux | 2005-08-29 9:14:19 AM

Softwood lumber: Canfor & etc. rule the roost. Emerson, Goodale, McLellan, are among the Liberal birds roosting in the Librano$$$$ tree.
AdScam Martin & gang will beat Cznadiands with the Aunty-American stick/bludgeon to bring them to heel/vote Liberal. Will they succeed? >>>>>

The Honourable David Emerson
Minister of Industry

Vancouver Kingsway (British Columbia)

David Emerson was first elected to the House of Commons, in 2004. He attended the University of Alberta and obtained his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in economics. He then went on to Queen’s University, where he received his doctorate in economics.

In 1975, Mr. Emerson joined the Government of British Columbia, becoming the province's deputy minister of finance in 1984.

In 1986, Mr. Emerson left government to become president and CEO of the Western and Pacific Bank of Canada. Four years later, he was appointed deputy minister of finance, then deputy minister to the Premier and later president of B.C. Trade Development Corporation.

In 1992, David Emerson was appointed to lead the newly created Vancouver International Airport Authority. In 1998, Mr. Emerson was appointed president and CEO of Canfor Corporation.

David Emerson and his wife, Theresa, have a son and a daughter. Mr. Emerson also has three grown children, a son and two daughters.

Posted by: maz2 | 2005-08-29 9:16:56 AM

I repeat - the tactics that will be used by the Liberals are their 'tried and true' tactics of manipulation. In the case of the West, it will be to:

1) Divide and thereby Conquer. They'll attempt to show the West that they, the West, are themselves divided; that those who are 'strident' in demanding 'more power' are 'dissenters, unCanadian, right-wing neofascists, pro-American and are definitely marginal to The Good People of the West etc, etc'. Anyone who is 'good', will not behave like this. They'll shame you into submission.

2) This is also the HeadMaster Approach. The gov't knows how you 'ought to behave', and will chide you for your current wrong behaviour. Shame and shame...

3) There'll be lots of PR about how selfish Alberta and the West is...and lots of misinformation and outright lies spread about the West as 'corporate power-hungry..etc.

4) There'll be token gestures of appeasement. PR visits, promises of ...

Basically, the agenda will be to shut the West up, to silence it...and take its resources.

Will it work?

Posted by: ET | 2005-08-29 9:30:16 AM

Really enjoyed your piece, but I must disagree with one point. An independent alberta with control over its own oil and gas would have no difficulty in signing bilateral trade agreements with the US. It wold also be less likely to impose the kind of tariffs currently existing on most imports from the US in spite of NAFTA, or handling "fees" for customs and immigration, GST. PST, etc. Importing anything from the US would likely be cheaper than it is now, and we would not need to import shoddy expensive goods from Quebec and Ontario..

Posted by: judy | 2005-08-29 9:31:03 AM

With reference to energy - how about another basic resource? Milk production. Forgive my ignorance, but, unlike oil, cows seem to 'grow everywhere'.

Yet, under the rules of the Canadian MSQ, the Market Share Quota, as of July 31, 2004...guess who is allowed to benefit the most from this 'natural resource'? The provinces are divided up, into how much they are ALLOWED to produce for the national quote of industrial milk requirements.

So - guess who is allowed to produce the most??
Quebec - gets 45.8%
Ontario - 31.5%
Manitoba - 3.6%
Sask. - 2.5%
Alberta - 6.6%
BC - 5.7%
The Maritimes are equally as low.

But - can't cows grow, like dandelions, everywhere? Aren't cows different from oil? How come Quebec is allowed to produce so much, and the West so little??

I'm not an economist, nor an agriculturalist..and have no idea.

Posted by: ET | 2005-08-29 10:21:24 AM

Calgary Grit, Federal subsidies to western farmers were nothing more than welfare and are the best example of how Central Canada tries to ruin the west.

Posted by: Jim | 2005-08-29 10:38:13 AM

I am part and parcel of this current of dissatisfaction rising up. Its not only the ones who actually lived and worked through the first NEP who are angry. My fathers, and many of his colleagues and friends, tell me all I need to know about the NEP firsthand. The contempt with which Ottawa treats Alberta is revolting, and only further indicative of their true intent. I'm a young professional, and cant express strongly enough my disgust with the state of Canadian politics. We could have the saddest excuse for democractic accountablility in the western world.

I have joined the seperatist party of Alberta and will work hard to pave the way for a strong and independant Alberta.

The time is now.

Posted by: Young Canadian | 2005-08-29 10:50:16 AM

Okay, here goes -- I'm going to do an omnibus comment in response to those made since my last comment, last night:

Bazoo: You mention a number of issues, and I've been active on most of them at one time or another over the past fifteen years. There have been gains, particularly on the gun file (thanks to Garry Breitkreuz, M.P.) and on Kyoto (the oil patch has negotiated a number of waivers, like the car makers did). On SSM, despite the premier's protests to the contrary, the Government of Alberta could invoke the notwithstanding clause with respect to what kind of marriages shall be solemnized in the Province of Alberta. Yet the province declines to do so. By and large, the Alberta cabinet and the premier's office are dominated by social liberals. Start in Edmonton on this file.

Jema54 et al.: I'm suggesting that Alberta entrepreneurs colonize the rest of the country, not unlike what Taiwan entrepreneurs have done throughout Asia, including the PRC. That would shift economic power even further. And, I'm suggesting getting minds around the need to work within institutions to control them and exercise real power. The power of populism is a myth -- a powerful one in Alberta, but a myth nonetheless. Ernest Manning understood that. As for your affirmation about contiguous parts of other provinces joining an independent Alberta, good luck with that. I grew up in the Peace River District (Alberta) and the Peace River Bloc (BC) is similar, but has developed a different culture to the point that the last poll done there about joining Alberta showed a majority opposed. Oh, and wasn't the Trudeau "finger incident" in Nelson, B.C., in either the 1979 or 1980 elections?

Kate and Candace: I watched Premier Lougheed's special broadcast to the people of Alberta. But the premier was entirely disingenuous since Prime Minister Trudeau had sought his approval before going forward with the NEP. Mr. Lougheed signed off on the NEP, and only when public opinion and the oil patch rose in righteous indignation did he flip-flop. Subsequently, Premier Lougheed spent money like a drunken sailor with new spending programs that were saddled on the hapless Premier Getty to find a way to pay for when the bottom dropped out of the price of oil in 1986 and on. Mr. Lougheed's spending programs put Alberta into deficit and debt.

A lot of the rest in subsequent comments strikes me as expressing frustration with I call modernist-secularist liberalism (MSL) (especially of the variety descending from Rousseau). I share your frustration, but I doubt that Alberta separatiion will overturn it in Alberta, since that is the governing philosophy of the current Government of Alberta. Typically, Mr. Klein makes an occasional tip of the hat to so-cons and anti-MSL voters, and strategic fedbashing to tap into anti-central Canadian sentiment. But on substance, most Alberta policy is of the same ilk as that coming out of Ottawa. Splitting Alberta off from Confederation won't change that.

Frankly, I hardly recognize today's Alberta compared to the Alberta I grew up in. Even in out-of-the-way pockets of the province like Grande Prairie, the old Alberta is disappearing, and not always for the better.

Posted by: Russ Kuykendall | 2005-08-29 11:24:13 AM

Things in my wish list I forgot last night:
Get rid of
1. Multiculturalism
2. Bilingualism
3. The hate law.

Posted by: MikeP | 2005-08-29 1:07:07 PM

Russ: Thanks for a great post and even better follow-up.

There never should have been an NEP and there never should be again. Price fixing of any kind distorts the market and the costs blow up somewhere else. Having said that, the complaints about the the now 20 year old NEP as ongoing evidence of how the East hates the West (and even as grounds for separation) seem like Rene Levesque's so-called "Night of the Long Knives" or Bouchard's "betrayal" after Meech Lake. It is very convenient to forget that the Alberta Premier agreed to and signed on to NEP. It is also easy and convenient to forget the price of oil before the NEP was signed and before prices skyrocketed (making the NEP an even worse example of state interference in the market but not an anti-Western policy). When a government makes a habit of making economy-damaging policies everywhere in the nation (prohibitions on foreign investment may have hurt Albertans but it hurt Ontario far more and killed investment in Montreal businesses), then it is simplistic to take its application in one part of the nation as evidence of bias. And the price-fixing of the NEP certainly had an impact on the Alberta economy but, when you look at the economies of Western states and provinces at the time, it becomes somewhat less evident that it alone "devasted" or "destroyed" the Alberta economy as some claim repeatedly.

There is so much bloated, fact-deficient arguing and mythologizing on left-middle-right, East-West and Confederation-separation issues that you have brought a very refreshing take on it and scuttled some critical but false myths that block real change. The fact that you have some from the centre-left spectrum (CalgaryGrit) and many from the right taking you on just shows how devoted some are to their own myths. And a tip of the hat to you as well for valuing the importance of democratic representation by population even when, now at this date with these demographics, that may not get you everything (anything?) you want (and also for acknowledging that Ontario is the most underrepresented province in Parliament.)

It is easy to see one problem (a federal government with little representation and, in the view of many but not all, little consideration for the West or conservatism) as the source of all problems and to see the grass greener elsewhere.


Posted by: TB | 2005-08-29 1:17:57 PM

Russ;Think what you like about The Peace and the other PRODUCTIVE areas of B.C. - put your head in the sand if it comforts you...I know what I have heard from people that live there.
I made a mistake about the finger on the Centenial train and merged it with another issue. I am sorry about that everyone and I thank-you, Russ, for bringing that to my attention. He (Turdo) did pass through Salmon Arm in 1968 but he did not give any nasty gestures - he kissed woman and babies....Trudeamania was in Salmon Arm... and my Dad was so disgusted that he would not even think of going to see that 'perp' so we didn't go to 'meet the new fad'. It was in 1981 (you are correct with your date, Russ) that he resorted to obscene gestures and it was off a train then also, and it was in Salmon Arm (my memory isn't THAT bad!!). I will check my facts more carefully in the future.

Posted by: Jema54 | 2005-08-29 1:33:21 PM

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