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Justin Trudeau’s Policies And Prejudices Revive Western Separatism

by DR. TIM BALL on MARCH 18, 2016


This article first appeared on

All the actions of the Federal government under Justin Trudeau resurrect the hostilities his father provoked. His policies of increasing and centralizing power in Ottawa angered western Canadians. Justin Trudeau is a child who inherited all his father’s narrow socialistic views of the vast diversity that is Canada. Like so many politicians, such as Al Gore, they fail at everything else and devolve to politics, where they make everybody else suffer and pay for bizarre ideas around which they attempt to build a career. Western Canadians have not forgotten the “finger” at Salmon Arm, the “sell your own wheat” remark and the formation of PetroCanada under the manipulative hands of Maurice Strong. Now the son appears intent on continuing the pattern, although Strong is no longer with us.

I am expecting to see an Alberta car sporting the bumper sticker using Ralph Klein’s famous comment, “Let the Eastern Bastards freeze in the dark.” Mary Janigan used the phrase as a title for a book on its history. As one reviewer wrote

Janigan, an award-winning national journalist, uses a disastrous first ministers’ meeting in 1918 as an anchor point and from there dissects one of the more intriguing inter-governmental spats in Canadian history. At every turn, Janigan lets us in on one more bit of the story of Western alienation, a tale that’s been slowly written since the day Canada acquired Rupert’s Land from the Hudson’s Bay Company — a transaction that would result in an endless battle over who owned what.

It is logical that the second largest country in the world encompasses great diversities of geography and climate and requires a political system and politicians who deal with that reality. The British North America Act understood the challenge and knew it required a political system that accommodated the diversity. People living in each region faced different challenges and required local control. Politically this is achieved with a federal as opposed to a unitary system of government. Britain has a unitary system, but even there it is under stress as people in different regions, such aw Scotland and Wales, seek more local control.

The BNA Act gave the Provinces control of resources, much to the annoyance of Liberals who wanted total federal control. This battle continues, although frequently superseded by battles over taxation, like the GST, and Provincial political power like Meech Lake. In reality, the only role for a federal government in Canada is defense, and that is not possible, so there is no need.

It is the nature of ideas that they ultimately fail unless people are aware of the nature of change. Everything, from an invention to a nation begins as an idea, but few materialize. If they do, they require components that unless constantly monitored become the seeds of destruction. The idea needs a structure of manufacture and marketing to put them into society. The problem is the structure is inevitably rigid while an idea needs dynamisms to perpetuate itself because the world is dynamic and constantly evolving. The idea doesn’t have to adopt or adapt to every change, but it must to those that make it untenable or unnecessary.

A recent example of the structure limiting, undermining, and allowing people to divert from the original idea is the current political struggle in the US. Many see the drift away from the ideas set out in the US Constitution. The Founding Fathers understood and anticipated change and provided a vehicle for Constitutional Amendments. They made them difficult to introduce to prevent political trifling. The other issue at the center of the US election is State power as Washington grows and usurps those powers. As the Founding Fathers warned

“Where an excess of power prevails, property of no sort is duly respected. No man is safe in his opinions, his person, his faculties, or his possessions.” –James Madison

“Were we directed from Washington when to sow, and when to reap, we should soon want bread.” –Thomas Jefferson

“Wherever the real power in a Government lies, there is the danger of oppression.” –James Madison

“The natural progress of things is for liberty to yield and government to gain ground.” –Thomas Jefferson

Canada experienced the same growth in the centralization of power and drifted away from the BNA Act. As the country expanded from the original United Empire Loyalist eastern area to western Canada, everything changed except the attitude and adaptation to the new region. Particularly troubling was the imposition of universality on the great diversity of landscape and climate. Universality is an ideal vehicle for a political agenda of total control, but it is eventually unworkable as it comes up against reality.

Canada is a very different country than when it was created, but little or nothing has changed to accommodate the differences. A few events accentuated the differences by effectively dividing the country along a historic boundary. The railway was built as a steel reinforcing rod to connect east and west. It barely fills that function anymore because of removal of the Crowe Rate, designed to deal with the difficulty of access for the Prairies to the coast; decline of railway passenger and freight traffic; complete reorientation of western Canada to the Pacific market; and reorientation of eastern Canada to the US instead of Europe. They all underscore the almost complete separation of east from west. The centrifugal forces of a large country are pulling it apart as the few centripetal forces fail

The actions and attitudes of Justin Trudeau are under different conditions than existed when his father alienated the west. Eastern Canada failed to adjust the structure for a variety of reasons, which created and aggravated western separatism. It is time to reconsider the division. The natural division is at the historical boundary known as the “height of land. It was an important dividing point for aboriginal people, and later fur traders because it was the boundary or divide that separated water flowing to the Atlantic from water flowing to the Arctic. Make the division and the Mayor of Montreal can buy his oil elsewhere without attacks from Canadians who won’t admit the idea of Canadian Federalism is not working.

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