Canada 2019 version.
I have an internet friend in Norway and he is always curious about Canada and specifically Alberta. We have a lot of similarities. Now he is puzzled by our election results. “We drove a hard bargain with our oil companies,” he says, and we have a Heritage fund of $1.3 trillion while you guys don’t even have one representative in your country’s government. Your provincial government is going to increase your taxes, cut services and make you all upset, he predicts. Fewer people will afford education, Health care and infrastructure will be reduced and people will run away to other provinces. I had no idea the Bloc Quebecois has so many members in Parliament. It’s bigger than the NDP! That’s very interesting!
I try to defend my country by describing our political history.
Canadians often vote by region. The feeling is that Ontario is taking advantage of other areas as colonial powers used to do. Quebec is always afraid that the English will force them to assimilate and disappear as a distinctive society. After all, we did it to First Nations. Very often people will vote a party to Ottawa that is opposite to the Provincial Party, to balance each other. Regions are worried that the “others” will take more than they give. They are suspicious that the others will share what “we have” but will keep what they have. Overall, most Canadians are the same on the lower levels. The more affluent, often from outside are competing with each other for domination and the poor are lead by envy and protectionism. That is why it is rare for most Canadians to vote for any single aspect that should be important to all of them.
This time it’s a little different. The greatest number of Canadians voted to prevent Global Warming, leaving the centre-west who has oil alienated. That oil is produced now with less pollution than it used to be, but oil from other countries is giving it a bad reputation. The West is alienated and by voting ourselves out of the halls of power has no-one to argue our case where it counts. I would much prefer if the Federal Government would cut oil imports to Canada and leave Canadians to use our own oil for as long as we still use oil. It will provide the means to build clean energy infrastructure.
It will be easy to keep Quebecers in since most of them want the same as the rest of us plus guarantees that we will not anglicize them. Their other major concern is to remain secular. At one time they were oppressed by the rich and powerful including the church and they fear religion. We must show them that we can have religious people living happily with secular people and not pressuring anyone to join them. It’s difficult when most religions have a mission to evangelize. Perhaps instead of going after religious symbols, we should legislate a stop to evangelization efforts. Live your life within the law but believe in the God of your own choice.
In the seventies, I purchased a book about Federalism by a little-known professor named Pier Trudeau. It is on the shelf, there… If you break the country up into ever small components you are doomed, he said. You must work from the inside and he did. The West hated Pierre Trudeau first for bilingualism and later for forcing us to share our oil revenues with the rest of Canada. That hate was transferred to his son, our present Prime Minister.
What the world is short of are good leaders. Canada is no exception. The good leaders are tempted to work for themselves. Those who enter politics often do so expecting power to benefit them and their friends in high places.
I don’t care about oil going through Quebec only about Quebec and Ontario using our oil for as long as we need oil. We should use what we need while aggressively tapering it down. Alberta will still be a very good place even without oil.
Also, l don’t buy secularism being a good excuse to discriminate against minorities.
The arguments for separatism by Quebec and the West are lame. We would gain nothing from separation. Our best bet for the future is to develop all of Canada and make it as self-sufficient as we can. The world needs to see that working together is possible and beneficial.
Our predecessors built a good base. We have a much better system than our neighbours and our people are miles ahead in terms of living together peacefully. We may not be the best place to invest or make fortunes, but we have all that we need to keep our population healthy, well-fed and warm.
Our problem is that we are convinced that we need smart and rich people from business to organize since governments will not do the smartest or most efficient job. I don’t even know if we have any money left in our Heritage Fund. I would venture that where we should expand efforts is to investigate corruption and legislate ways to control it.
We could learn from countries like India what not to do and from countries like Norway what we should do. If I was a leader, I would set up a task force to study that problem. India is not all corrupt, Norway is not perfect but Canada can learn from both.
The first step is to convince enough people that the market is not always right, that extreme socialism doesn’t work, that dictatorships and absolute monarchies fail people, and that there should be a Canadian way that can and would. As separated as we look outwards now, we have never been more united.
It doesn’t matter how we slice the pie, the last elections clearly show that we have a united goal with large support from every region of this huge country. Canadians at large are less concerned about immediate comfort and more about the future of our children.