that Insults the West
Herald, April 26, 1905
Territories struggling for years before he would seriously consider the
autonomy question. Being forced to grant a measure of home rule, he
goes into committee of the whole with Mgr. Sbarretti [sic], and offers
the country the most sinister piece of legislation that political
intrigue ever produced.
the right to
adopt an education system of their own choosing, all natural resources
administered from Ottawa, the immense coal royalties preserved as a
Dominion asset, the control of the irrigation system of the West
maintained as a party privilege to be farmed out to Liberal supporters,
and many private awards made to strong partisan friends in
different parts of the Territories, Sir Wilfred audaciously extends the
naked counterfeit to the west as the substance of provincial rights.
anything be more mendacious?
ever a more
hateful exhibition of the leader of a great party in the closing days
of his splendid career, lending himself to such a policy of coercion?
have little patience with the policy that seeks to denude them of
tremendous natural resources, and infinitely less with the idea that
proposes to deprive the people of the right to frame their educational
It is idle
to talk of harmony when everything indicates an unalterable
determination to coerce the west.
Wilfred is so
confident the west is satisfied with his policy, dare he submit the
autonomy bills in a plebiscite to the people so much concerned?
disabuse his mind on that score if the Premier really imagines that his
policy resembles a popular measure today.
By the use
of the barest
party intrigue, and the tremendous power at his disposal, Sir Wilfrid
is in a fair way to force bills on the country but the dissensions in
his own party ought to warn him of the storm he is stirring up. Mgr.
Sbarretti [sic] may have his ear, but the popular discontent threatens
to reach such propositions as to engage his attention, in spite of his
apparent surrender to the ecclesiastical forces.
Albertans were in favor of throwing off the shackles of Territorial
government, which gave them no rights. The argument for becoming a
province was one of Provincial autonomy and home rule. As the Calgary
Herald notes, just months before Alberta is admitted as a province,
Alberta's colonization continued. This unfair treatment led to Clifford
Sifton resigning from Laurier's cabinet and sparked the seeds of
pro-independence sentiment in Alberta.
Moore, Alberta's First Patriot
Bramley Moore was a ferocious defender of Alberta's rights from the
Alberta finally got equal treatment with the other provinces in terms
of owning Alberta's natural resources. This
Trudeau Sparks Election of WCC MLA
Trudeau's oppressive policies sparked a lot of resentment in the West
and most notably in Alberta. Equalization and transfer payments grew
dramatically, as Trudeau expanded the welfare state and this forced
Alberta to pay a larger share to the rest of Canada. As a side-effect
of that, debt and taxes ballooned. Trudeau forced bilingualism on
Alberta, with its 3% francophone population. Trudeau's xenophobia led
to the FIRA, which killed a lot of American investment in the oilpatch.
His price controls and export taxes on oil again sought
disproportionate funding from Albertans. But until the National Energy
Program, Albertans for the most part did not seek redress for our
grievances. The NEP simply looted the Alberta economy, and it became
obvious to most that Alberta was simply a de facto colony of Canada.
And Trudeau's arrogant attitude further annoyed Albertans.
In this context, it is easy to see how Albertan separatism became
popular. In fact, the NEP served the purpose of adding fuel to the fire
of Western independence, which created a movement out of sentiment.
Conservative to Reform and Back Again
After Mulroney was elected, he ended the NEP. However, Albertans
support of the Progressive Conservatives was short-lived, as Mulroney
desired to get Quebec into Confederation. In order to do this, Mulroney
offered short-term trade-offs with Getty and tried to push special
status for Quebec. Meech Lake failed. The Charlottetown Accord was
offered as another method of trying to get Quebec into Confederation.
As this process began, the Reform Party offered itself to Albertans as
a means to reform the Canadian political system. Reform started as a
so-called fringe movement and found itself taking all the Progressive
Conservative support east of Ontario after the Charlottetown Accord
failed. Then, in order to get elected and gain power, the Reform Party
watered down their platform of reform and became the Alliance Party.
Then they watered down their platform again and became the Conservative
Party. The more things change, the more they stay the same.
|Recent Attempts to Capitalize on
Alberta's Independence Sentiment
The Alberta Independence Party, led by Cory
promoted independence for the province of Alberta either on its own, or
in union with the other western provinces. It is now
defunct, never having achieved party status. Cory Morgan was certainly
a separatist at the time, stating that "It's time to cut off the
lifeline [with Canada]" and that "An independent nation looks better to
me than what we're looking at right now." Since that time, Morgan has
gone back against his own ideals at one time, presently stating that
supporting separatism is like "pissing in the wind."
The Separation Party of Alberta nominated candidates in the
2004 Alberta provincial election, but they haven't been successful in
their attempts to capitalize on Alberta secessionist sentiment.
|Failures and Success of
Secessionists to Date
We have failed, to date. Success is easily measured, by
existence of an independent Alberta. Why have we failed? If we look at
history, I think we can look at several reasons why the independence
movement has failed.
Goals of Independence. While
independence is very much an either/or proposition, it hasn't stopped
the offering of less concrete "solutions." For example, the phrase
"Separation if necessary, but not necessarily separation" is a
meaningless platform to advocate. First, it doesn't offer any policy
advice. If someone were to advocate "Tax cuts if necessary, but not
necessarily tax cuts," you wouldn't really know if they supported tax
cuts. Moreover, the "not necessarily" aspect lends itself to multiple
litmus tests among multiple people that will all have differing
viewpoints on when secession actually becomes necessary. The result of
that will be a directionless movement.
Uncertainty About Who Should Become Independent: At
times, we have seen people favor Alberta independence, Alberta and B.C.
independence, Western Canadian independence (excluding the
Territories), Western Canadian Independence (including the Territories)
and the formation of Cascadia, a group of Pacific/Northwest states and
provinces along the Pacific coast.
It should be very easy to see why this is a recipe for failure -
bringing people together supporting different things, and expecting
them to support one thing that they do not support is a failure.
Another reason why this leads to failure is that some approaches are
feasible, while others are not. One can easily see how, for example,
Alberta independence can be accomplished (achieved through a
plebiscite in Alberta). It is unclear how, say, Cascadia could be
achieved. Even with separate plebiscites in Alberta and BC, how would
N. California first secede from California (unconstitutional) and how
would any of Washington, Oregon or N. California secede is quite
Another consideration is that the rationale for independence in Alberta
is different than that in other locales. Our issues are our issues. Our
grievances will not be the same as BC's, or Saskatchewan's or
Partisan Goals to Independence: Independence
isn't a conservative vs. liberal ideological fight. Simple
mathematics tells us that a healthy amount
of Alberta's portion will need to agree with independence - and this
will draw from people from every walk of life. Arguably, Alberta's
grievances - and rectifying them - are something that could appeal to
all Albertans. You wish to see less government in your life, with you
being able to keep more of your property? An independent Alberta can
offer that. You wish to see the government begin to support generous
social programs? An independent Alberta can offer that as well.
Everybody has a stake in Alberta becoming independent, and this must be
4. Support of
are not the friends of Alberta independence. Seems like a
fairly obvious point, but many federalists are seeking to address the
same problems that secessionists are, so there may be a tendency for a
unified effort to address those problems. That is as silly as
capitalists and socialists combining their forces to fight poverty -
which is an issue for both. The policy they advocate to solve it is
quite different, and therein lies the difference between nationalists
and federalists: we seek a different path to solve similar problems.
Nationalists may mock the federalists for their failure to learn from
history and the failure of reform efforts, but nationalists should
learn from history as well. Federalist support of independence
movements ensures the independence movement will fail. For example,
federalist Jack Ramsey was the last leader of the Western Canada
Concept before it became irrelevant. He had no problems resurrecting
his career as a Reform M.P.. Cory Morgan's lack of integrity can be
seen in his initial rejection of Reform/Canadian Alliance, then his
rejection of independence for Alberta in favor of the Alliance.
Susceptibility to Snap Elections:
Peter Lougheed caught the forces of independence off-guard by calling a
quick election in 1982. While secessionists received almost 12% of the
popular vote, no seats were won in the legislature. Future nationalists
must be very wary of this happening in the future. Part of this depends
on how feasible it is for the government to call an election, given
when the past election is or how well-funded they are. Nationalists
must seek to form a political party, have strong constituency
associations, and be prepared to run candidates in every constituency
at any time.
|What Should Be Done