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Alberta: separatism then and now was published in 2009. It is an essential story of the independence movement of Alberta written by author and historian Dr. Michael Wagner who was not, in 2009, a Western sovereignist, at least not publicly. The book was not intended to provide an explicit argument for the independence of Alberta; rather, it served to place the pervasive sense of Western alienation in its full historical context.
I personally reviewed this book when it was first published and pointed out that Wagner had only documented an independence movement by name, a movement that, with few exceptions, was frustrated by its self-proclaimed leaders who, when in a hurry, had very little enthusiasm for Alberta independence. and certainly no appetite for the deliciously seditious and daring enterprise of secession and nation-building.
Prior to 2009, most of Alberta’s so-called sovereignists could be described as free market defenders and frustrated nationalists nostalgic for a culturally conservative national identity that no longer exists in the post-national state than the first. Minister Justin Trudeau calls on Canada.
I am now embarking on the exam No other option: self-determination for Alberta, Wagner’s latest contribution to Western secessionist thought, to answer this question: Are Albertans now ready to leave the rest of Canada behind for an independent and prosperous future?
Former Prime Minister Jean ChrÃ©tien noted last month that Alberta has a “culture of complaint” when it comes to its treatment within Confederation, a statement that is both patronizing and historically inaccurate. As former Liberal MP David Kilgour explained in his 1988 book, Concerned Patriots: Western Canadians in Confederation, â… history shows that Westerners have attempted, within existing institutions, to make our voices heard in Ottawa, but have failed to achieve political and economic equality with central Canada. After documenting decades of attempts to reform Canadian federalism, Wagner now concludes that Alberta has “no choice” but to separate from Canada.
Wagner made his own journey from “worried patriot” to shameless sovereignist, and he made that journey with thousands of other Albertans. In fact, in his summary of past and present opinion polls on Western alienation, Wagner includes a 2019 Angus Reid poll showing that “more than half of Albertans (52%) say they think the West would be better off if he left Canada â.
Western alienation is as old as Confederation itself.
âWesterners have lodged complaints against the East since the early years of colonization. Indeed, Louis Riel led rebellions against the federal government twice, in 1869-1870 and 1885. Later, farmers would form political organizations to represent their views in Ottawa. The Progressive Party of Canada was very popular in the West and elected a number of regional MPs during the 1920s. Later iterations of Western political dissent, such as Social Credit and the Reform Party of Canada, are well known, âwrites Wagner.
These complaints were of course ignored by the Laurentian elite who believe that Canada’s history is limited to that of Quebec and Ontario, and that Canada’s institutional structures must serve the mercantilist ambitions of these two provinces. Alberta was and is nothing more than a colonial outpost “open to colonization to line the pockets of pot and pan vendors in the East,” according to the former premier of the United States. ‘Alberta, Harry Strom. Alberta independence is not, as Wagner meticulously documents, a new idea, nor is it a movement based on trivial complaints from resource-rich Westerners who do not want to be part of it. a truly national program.
In his heart, No other option begins and ends with Prime Ministers Pierre Trudeau and Justin Trudeau. Albertans have come full circle, from Pierre Trudeau’s National Energy Program to destructive policies designed to meet Canada’s obligations under the Paris Agreement signed by Justin Trudeau.
The mood in the province today, however, goes beyond mere frustration and those who are still determined to reform Confederation are losing their following. The Reform Party’s rallying cry – âThe West wants to come inâ – is barely heard among the grassroots that once fought tirelessly alongside Preston Manning for a renewed Canadian federalism. Many today just want to get out or, at the very least, are ready to speak more frankly about the option of independence.
Former Prime Minister Stephen Harper, whose departure from federal politics gave way to the option of independence, observed: âAlberta and much of the rest of Canada have embarked on divergent paths and potentially hostile to define their country. Alberta has opted for the best of Canadian heritage – a combination of American enterprise and individualism with British traditions of order and cooperationâ¦ Canada [by contrast] seems happy to become a second-rate socialist country.
While Alberta and Canada may be on divergent and hostile paths, most leading academics on questions regarding Alberta’s place in confederation remain convinced that Canada and the West can avoid a conflict. hot constitutional war. Respected academics at Calgary School are not yet ready to say goodbye to a country that just doesn’t love them. Instead, they embarked on a strategy to flirt openly with independence in the hope that the Laurentian elite will realize that they take the West for granted.
âPerhaps this is the Alberta paradox: that we have to travel half a road to a destination we don’t want, in order to get the political and constitutional changes needed to stay in a Canada we don’t want. love, âwrote Tom Flanagan, Jack Mintz and Ted Morton in their book Moment of truth. I do not think it is unfair to conclude from this assertion that an independent Alberta would be a consolation prize for these authors.
The common refrain of “independence so necessary but not necessarily independence” is, however, a doomed strategy that lacks the bold vision required to build a new nation. It is a desperate and uninspired reform strategy, born out of prolonged and irritating colonial subjugation. We have long realized the benefits of this kind of posture. It is frankly embarrassing.
Albertans cannot save Canada, but they can save the West. Canada is already gone. It is no more than a bureaucratic administrative body without a distinct national character whose history should only be recognized as a source of shame for the rituals. self–flogging during national holidays. Justin Trudeau walks without warning past the overturned statues of our country’s founders as his attention is now entirely focused on global political governance.
So, are Albertans now ready to leave the rest of Canada for a more prosperous future? Unfortunately not yet, but we are getting closer. As Wagner writes, “a particular type of charismatic and energetic leader is probably essential in taking the independence movement to the next level.” I do not see this leader yet, which does not detract from the important and heroic work that the patriots of Alberta are doing now.
Long live a free and prosperous Alberta.
Matthew Johnston is a Western Standard contributor