The Harper Government™’s Coalition Conspiracy Theory is still being relentlessly pushed on Twitter, but has been largely excoriated in the media. In addition to the Firewall Letter, which I’ll post shortly, I’d like to give it one last parting shot, one which the media seems to have forgotten but is much, much worse than the Firewall Letter. This is, according to Harper today, the sort of anti-patriotic stuff that just can’t be trusted in government. He should be called upon to explain it.
It was December 2000, and the right had just gone down to another defeat, thanks to the dramatic crashing and burning of Stockwell Day. Harper, then at the anti-public healthcare group the National Citizens Coalition, was losing his own battle to overturn Elections Canada’s election spending limit laws. (The same sort of laws he flaunted in 2006, you may recall). He had had enough of Canada. So he fired off a paranoid letter to the National Post proposing “Separation, Alberta-Style.” It was a call to arms, inspiring Albertans to create a party modelled on the Bloc Quebecois (the one Harper now denounces as separatists) and explicitly daring the federal government to provoke a nascent Albertan separatist movement:
The latest dribblings from the mouth of Canada’s Prime Minister suggest Alberta’s wealth can be attributed to the federal government. While there is clearly no merit to the claim, we must not ignore the implied threat: If Ottawa giveth, then Ottawa can taketh away.
This is just one more reason why Westerners, but Albertans in particular, need to think hard about their future in this country. After sober reflection, Albertans should decide that it it time to seek a new relationship with Canada…
For many of us, this federal election has stripped away any veneer of openness to reforming Canada. Those who conceived the Reform party, and helped nurture it through its transformation to the Alliance, have not discovered a path to power; they have hit a wall. This is perhaps not surprising. Alberta and much of the rest of Canada have embarked on divergent and potentially hostile paths to defining our country.
Alberta has opted for the best of Canada’s heritage — a combination of American enterprise and individualism with the British traditions of order and cooperation. We have created an open, dynamic and prosperous society in spite of a continuously hostile federal government.
Canada appears content to become a second-tier socialistic country, boasting ever more loudly about its economy and social services to mask its second-rate status, led by a second-world strongman appropriately suited for the task.
Albertans would be fatally ill-advised to view this situation as amusing or benign. Any country with Canada’s insecure smugness and resentment can be dangerous… The attitudes toward Alberta so successfully exploited in this election will have inevitable consequences the next time Canada enters a recession or needs an internal enemy.
Having hit a wall, the next logical step is not to bang our heads against it. It is to take the bricks and begin building another home — a stronger and more autonomous Alberta. It is time to look at Quebec and to learn. What Albertans should take from this example is to become “maitres chez nous.”
In one policy area after another, the province of Quebec, with much less financial independence than Alberta, has taken initiatives to ensure it is controlled by its own culture and its own majority. Such a strategy across a range of policy areas will quickly put Alberta on the cutting edge of a world where the region, the continent and the globe are becoming more important than the nation-state…
On the other hand, we should not mimic Quebec by lunging from rejection into the arms of an argument about separation. As that province has shown, separation will simply divide our population in a symbolic debate while, still part of the country, it isolates us from any allies. Separation will become a real issue the day the federal government decides to make it one.
Neither should Alberta shun federal politics, but we must carefully guard our interests. Much about the Canadian Alliance is worthy of support, and a large number of Canadians do support it. But the CA will be under considerable pressure to rid itself of any tinge of a Western agenda or Alberta control. This we must fight… We don’t need a second Liberal party.
Westerners, but especially Albertans, founded the Reform/Alliance to get “in” to Canada. The rest of the country responded by telling us in no uncertain terms that we do not share their “Canadian values.” Fine. Let us build a society on Alberta values.