There are plenty of good reasons to be disappointed in the performance of the Trudeau Liberals, not just in the West, but to place the blame for all of our woes solely on the head of the prime minister is simply scapegoating.
In the wake of Encana relocating its headquarters from Calgary to the U.S. last week, Alberta premier Jason Kenney did just that fomenting anger and division and fanning the flames of separatism for no good reason.
“It’s about the broader decline of the Canadian energy industry, which I think is a deliberate policy of the Trudeau government,” he said.
Granted, Trudeau does not help himself with his sometimes cavalier comments such as “we need to phase them out” referring to Alberta’s oilsands.
But even the National Post, hardly a publication known for being a Liberal apologist said that was going too far.
“Though it was once Canada’s largest oil and gas producer, Encana’s performance has raised questions since long before the current government took office,” an editorial posted Nov. 1 stated. “Its shares are down 75 per cent over the past six years, even while some other energy firms have risen. Chief executive Doug Suttles is a Texan who has steadily increased the firm’s U.S. activities since taking charge in 2013, capping the drive by returning to the U.S. himself a year ago.”
It is true Canada has been pursuing policies, that also predate Trudeau, to diversify the Canadian economy and transition away from fossil fuel dependence for a variety of reasons, something which most Canadians support to some degree or another, including many Albertans and, over the decades, Alberta governments.
Nevertheless, Alberta and Saskatchewan sent a strong message to the Liberals in this election, with grievances that stem mainly from a perception they are putting more into confederation than they are getting out of it.
While it is also true it has been decades since Alberta has received any equalization payments, Ottawa continues to pour billions into subsidies to corporations to prop up the oil and gas industry.
As for Saskatchewan, give me a break.
Don’t get me wrong, I love Saskatchewan. I was born there and went back for 10 years as an adult. I bleed green and white. Go Riders.
However, it has only been six years since that province climbed out of ‘have not’ status to become a net contributor.
Saskatchewan is also hurting from the decline in the oil and gas sector, but the province still has a largely agricultural economy and grain farmers are also hurting. I suppose that’s also Trudeau’s fault. No, wait, it was Stephen Harper’s Conservatives who sold—actually gave away—the Canadian Wheat Board to foreign (U.S. and Saudi) interests costing farmers billions over the past several years.
There is some misguided perception in Alberta and Saskatchewan that if only the rest of Canada would get on board and elect a Conservative government all their woes would be solved.
What if it had gone the other way? What if the Conservatives had managed to spread their vote across the country and eke out a minority, or even a majority with less than 40 per cent of the popular vote as is the norm for first-past-the-post?
Would Andrew Scheer all of a sudden abandon the East? Not likely. Would he ignore the more than 60 per cent of the electorate that voted against Conservatives? Also not likely.
Ontario is still the biggest driver of the Canadian economy with a GDP almost double Alberta and Saskatchewan combined. Quebec is number two with $328 billion (2017) to Alberta’s $304 billion.
It also irks Alberta that Quebec has surpluses while receiving transfer payments, while they have deficits and are paying in. But that’s because Quebec chooses to have high taxes and average spending while Alberta chooses to have low taxes and high spending.
Nevertheless, it is certainly possible the equalization formula needs to be reviewed and possibly revised.
I love this country. I have lived in five of 10 provinces from the north coast of Labrador to the northern interior of B.C. I have spent time in every single province and two of the three territories.
Canada, by population, is tiny, but geographically vast. We punch way above our weight class in almost every category because as a united federation we are greater than the sum of our parts.
If anyone truly believes their own province or region could go it alone, they are living in a fantasy world.
Anger and scapegoating are not going to solve anything.