If we want to avoid the worst effects of climate change, why do we think a puny carbon tax is the solution?
Starting next year, the Trudeau government’s national carbon tax is scheduled to be implemented across the country, regardless of whether the people of the provinces like it or not.
While some provinces like Saskatchewan and Ontario are taking the government to court on this, for the time being, it looks like the carbon tax is here to stay.
If four years’ worth of Liberal government policy, refracted through an identity politics lens and subsequent brow beating of any dissent wasn’t enough, Canada’s electoral map paints a clash-of-colours portrait of how divided the country actually is having endured it.
And the ultimate loser for this tactic, employed by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his righthand man Gerald Butts (the de facto PM), who gamed most everything as an “anointed versus neanderthals, bigots and racists” issue, was the nation.
Even when Trudeau was mocked for correcting a woman at a town hall for using “mankind”, when according to our PM that henceforth it should be referred to as “peoplekind”, Butts saw Nazis everywhere.
To be sure, the identity politics and related hypocrisy on this front, by the Liberal leader himself (i.e. #TrudeauBlackface being the most egregious), hurt the party as it dropped 20 seats and lost majority government status after Monday night’s federal vote.
In the aftermath of Canada’s 43rd general election, Trudeau and the Liberals held just 157 seats – a baker’s dozen of MPs shy of majority carte blanche for another four years – while Conservatives and their leader Andrew Scheer added just 26 MPs to their caucus, falling far short of beating Trudeau.
And not since incumbent-Progressive Conservative prime minister Kim Campbell’s stunning election blowout in 1993, has the Bloc Quebecois been in position to play an influential role in a new federal government.
Then it was the Reform Party’s rise under Preston Manning, a western-centric party whose success in Alberta basically gifted then-Bloc Leader Lucien Bouchard the unlikely role leading Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition against Jean Chrétien’s Liberal majority.
Today, it’s an overcrowded left and a weakened New Democrat Party, whose third-party status was gutted after Monday’s election, much of that support likely going to new Bloc leader Yves-François Blanchet’s separatists, who won over Quebecers unimpressed with any federalist alternative.
The Bloc’s won in 32 ridings – a 22 seat boost from the last federal vote – also knocked Singh and the NDP from third party spot in the House of Commons, while the nation watched Quebec’s political pendulum swung back toward a more nationalistic, self-interest.
But this loss for Canada’s stalwart, left-wing party could hardly be detected in Singh’s rambling, congratulatory speech that sounded more like a victory address.
As ironic as the separatist Bouchard’s station in Parliament some 26 years ago, was that Singh’s losing night – New Democrats dropped 15 seats and lost official third party status – remains enough to hold the balance of power in Ottawa, by propping up Trudeau and the Liberals.
Looking West, the federation’s economic engine Alberta has turned nearly completely Conservative blue, and Saskatchewan is all blue; Quebec is again beset with a separatist insurgency, while incumbent-Trudeau’s party remains strong in the Laurentien regions; Maritimes, urban regions of Quebec, Toronto’s 416 and the Ottawa valley.
Given this result, the embattled TMX project and other moribund pipelines to get Albertan oil to tidewater, western separatism is now trending on social media via #Wexit, complete with the added vitriol that only anonymous Twitter accounts can provide; in the following instance, aimed at Newfoundland voters.
But vitriol is not required to divide, as Butts’ social media presence proved, and combined with anointed Liberal bromides heard through the past four years impressed upon the plebes that only they could lead us to a new era of “inclusion” and “strength in diversity”.
To see what the country looks like today – the posturing of separatists in Quebec, disaffected westerners and indigenous groups who back TMX and those who don’t – it is clear to anyone who isn’t a mushroom that there is little “inclusion” in today’s Canada, just weakness in a sea of diversity.
And even while his own party race hustled – Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen told a largely Somali crowd on Canada Day that Conservatives “danced with white supremacists” – then fielded anti-Semites like ex-activist Sameer Zuberi, Butts pretended it was only the other guys who did this sort of thing.
On October 21, Butts took particular Twitter glee after Scheer got hammered by a reporter for hiring political fixer Warren Kinsella to dig, then gin up any racist dirt he could find on Maxime Bernier and his People’s Party of Canada.
But the facile narratives pushed by Butts, and let’s face it, given plenty of oxygen by our establishment media, for example that “only conservatives can be racist”, was but just one Canadians have been assailed with, in increasing intensity since Trudeau took power in 2015.
Other bogus narratives pushed on the public included that it was somehow “unCanadian” to question Canada’s current open border policy loophole regarding our Safe Third Country Agreement with United States.
And this “unCanadian” line was trotted out several times, by Trudeau and his minions whilst Immigration Canada was straining under the growing backlog of asylum claims; nearly 50,000 made by people illegally entering the country from New York State.
Another classic fake narrative that predated Trudeau, but was serially employed by his Minister of Environment and Climate (action) Catherine McKenna, was anyone who questioned the science of a looming climate apocalypse, is akin to questioning the Holocaust, ie; “a denier”.
So here we are as a federation after four years of toxic discourse: divided and adrift, led by a prime minister that barely three out of 10 voters supported, and no opposition worthy of earning a mandate to carve a different, unifying path.
Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe has penned a letter demanding that a new deal be negotiated for Alberta and Saskatchewan.
In his letter, Moe points out that the new Liberal minority government does not represent Saskatchewan and Alberta at all. Following the election, Conservatives won all 14 seats in Saskatchewan, as well as 33 out of 34 seats in Alberta, with a lone NDP candidate. The Liberals were shut out of both provinces.
“In Canada, we now have a Liberal minority government that did not receive the popular vote, has no clear mandate, will be supported by either a fourth place party that has never governed or a party that does not want to be part of this nation,” Moe writes. “This minority government also has no representation from Saskatchewan or Alberta.”
“It’s time for a new deal with Canada.”
Moe decided to take Prime Minister Justin Trudeau up on his offer of support, saying that nice words are great, but Saskatchewan and Alberta want action, and they want it now.
To remedy the fractured relationship between Western Canada and the East, Moe proposed three solutions:
- Cancel the federal carbon tax.
- Commit to negotiate a new equalization formula that is fair to Saskatchewan and Alberta.
- Commit to develop a plan to ensure Saskatchewan and Alberta can get our exports to international markets. This means pipelines.
“I am ready to meet with Prime Minister Trudeau at any time to discuss how he will be moving forward on these issues. Prime Minister, you said you heard our frustrations and want to support us,” Moe continues.
“We are ready for you to prove it.”
Following the reelection of Justin Trudeau as Prime Minister with a Liberal minority, #Wexit, or Western exit (a play on Brexit), immediately began trending on Twitter, with separatist accounts gaining thousands of new followers.
One of the most important takeaways from the election is the blue sweep throughout Alberta and Saskatchewan. Both provinces have expressed growing indignation over the other provinces’ dependence on the oil industry, while simultaneously trying to stifle Alberta’s business prospects and economic growth by opposing pipelines.
People in Saskatchewan have expressed similar discontent, as many in the province benefit from the oil industry and Saskatchewan farmers in Canada’s heartland worry climate policies will target their economy next.
In response to Justin Trudeau’s reelection, the Facebook group for VoteWexit.com gained tens of thousands of followers in a matter of hours. According to CTV News, in just 10 minutes the group surged from 4,000 members to 42,000. By 8:00 a.m. the next morning, the group had shot up to over 113,000 members.
Additionally, a Change.org petition for “Alberta Separation/Western Alliance” has gained significant traction, receiving over 20.000 signatures of its 25,000 signature goal at the time of this article’s writing. This occurred in less than 24 hours.
“Trudeau’s re-election is going to tear Canada in half. Good job Quebec. You’ll get your separatism desires. The west is leaving,” wrote one Twitter user.
Another writes, “Western Canada – especially Alberta – is basically the victim of an abusive relationship with the rest of the country. Too scared to actually leave but what’s the benefit of staying? Not sure what the answer is but I’m worried about the next 4 years #wexit.”
The biggest concern, beyond a general shift in sentiment towards climate awareness over economic growth, for the Conservative-dominated provinces is the continued placation of Quebec from politicians in Ottawa who seem to take it out on Alberta. This is despite oil and gas revenues subsidizing Quebec’s social services through equalization payments.
Indeed, Alberta Premier Jason Kenney and Quebec Premier Francois Legault have had multiple verbal jousting matches over just this issue.
According to Mount Royal University political scientist Duane Bratt, whether the Western separatist movement gains traction will be greatly decided by Kenney’s leadership and thoughts on the issue in the coming months.
“You have this large cohort of Conservative MPs. How does the government function? How does the Trudeau government function? What is Kenney’s response?” Bratt said. “I think this is a real danger to national unity.
“Does he try to dampen that down? He didn’t during the campaign. He put out a video in August saying, ‘We don’t want to separate from Canada, we want to separate Trudeau from office.’
“Kenney then campaigns against Trudeau not just in Alberta but in Ontario and in Manitoba and he’s unsuccessful, so where do they go next?”
Mount Royal University political analyst David Taras broadly agreed with Bratt’s analysis.
“Let’s face it, the anger and alienation in western Canada is real and this government will have to deal with it,” Taras said.
“There’s a sense of just awful alienation, of really feeling deeply offended and I think the (Trudeau) government has to really take a look at what it has to do in terms of energy policy and pipelines in order to get any kind of hearing here.”
Other Canadians took to social media to ridicule the possibility of a separatist movement, saying that Alberta is landlocked and, thus, in some way reliant on the coastal provinces.
“Western separation is nonsense,” wrote one Twitter user. “A landlocked state cannot feasibly work… but I do understand the frustration and resentment in the west in a way that I never could while living in Ontario. Scary Times. #Wexit #Elxn43.”
Another Twitter user wrote, “I understand the frustration, but immediately wanting to separate from Canada after the party you support loses is the childhood equivalent of shutting off the Nintendo, taking your controller and going home when your team gets scored on. #wexit #elxn43.”
While landlocked states are more difficult to manage, some have argued that selling oil to the U.S. and countries southwards would be significantly easier without Ottawa stifling the industry.
Either way, it’s clear that alternatives to the Canadian confederation are being seriously considered.
According to a poll conducted by Think HQ in early October, 71 percent of respondents believe policies under the Trudeau government are hurting the quality of life in Alberta. That’s compared to 15 percent who felt the opposite.
Before the election, 23 percent of Albertans polled wanted to leave Canada, 17 percent were not sure, and 57 percent wanted to stay. However, many who wanted to stay were still highly dissatisfied by the state and trajectory of policies laid out in Ottawa. We cannot be sure exactly how many will change their mind, but it does appear there is a significant shift towards separatism following the election.
“My father always used to tell me that when you are paddling across a big lake, and the clouds get darker and the wind comes up, and the waves start to show white caps and break a little more, there really only is one thing to do,” Justin Trudeau said Friday evening while campaigning in Vaughan. “Sing louder and paddle harder!”
The heartfelt story wasn’t random, rather it was a celebration of the Prime Minister’s late father Pierre Elliott Trudeau, who would have been 100 on October 18, 2019. In the spirit of his father, Trudeau hoped to sure up votes and supporters of his progressive policies, many of which found their grounding in the 70s as a result of Pierre Trudeau’s Multiculturalism Policy in 1971.
This policy began the formal recognition of Canada as a bilingual state, which was done to placate Quebec who had been fighting for sovereignty and separation — something which remains a looming possibility, today.
While Elliott Trudeau’s move prevented Quebec from leaving the confederation, his son, Justin, is still dealing with separatist sentiments and Quebec’s desire to be governed provincially, rather than federally, with its own distinct set of laws. Recently, the most notable of such laws is Bill 21, the religious secularism bill which prevents those working in public offices from wearing religious symbols.
Justin Trudeau has been criticized for his soft position on the issue of Quebec enacting laws that run counter to the rest of the country’s principles and laws. Overall, Trudeau’s position is that what Quebec is doing is wrong, but he is unlikely to intervene.
“I have made it very clear that I do not think that a government should be telling people what it is they should or shouldn’t wear, but Quebecers themselves are taking this law to court and defending the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, as is their right,” Trudeau said during a campaign stop in Whitby the same day.
“I have said that my federal government would not intervene at this stage,” he added, “but I also have not closed the door to intervening at a later stage,” said Trudeau.
“Because we understand that a federal government always needs to be there, potentially, to defend rights, like women’s rights, like LGBT rights, like minority rights, like the rights of francophones outside of Quebec.”
All other candidates have so far not committed to intervening in Quebec’s politics, and, as Quebec continues to flex its muscles against the weight of the federal government, it is possible that Trudeau’s father’s efforts may have been all for not.