The victory on April 23 of the tired old cronies of the so-called Progressive Conservative Party of Alberta demonstrates once more that fear tactics work. It also demonstrates that courage is inversely proportional to the distance between the belly button and the backbone. By that I mean Albertans today are living a life of relative affluence and there is no immediate threat from anything in Ottawa, or so they perceive, and they prefer to bear those ills they have than fly to others that they know not of.
In addition, however, there has been an enormous campaign of vilification of any person of European ethnic origin who dares to suggest that maybe multiculturalism is a misadventure. In this vein, the religion of Canada, promulgated and perpetrated by the central Canadian media, will vilify those two individuals who dared to suggest that (a) that homosexuality might be a bad lifestyle and somewhat anti-Christian, and (b) that being a Caucasian might be an advantage, must be made the central issue in the campaign. This, it seems, successfully scared Albertans into believing that if they voted for the Wildrose, it would be a reaffirmation of some Neanderthal stereotype of Albertans. The idea of tolerance, to liberals, seems to be that they will tolerate opinions they agree with.
There is, however, a lot of truth in what was said by Danielle Smith, that tolerance must be practiced and not just preached, and that she wasn’t willing to throw anybody under the bus. I commended her for her courage to stand in favour of free speech, something which we rarely find in any politician, but certainly a rare commodity in a politician seeking to be elected.
For this and a number of other reasons, I strongly believe that Wildrose represented a position of principle, integrity, and a whole new breath of fresh air, which I suspect is exactly what Danielle Smith has exemplified by the Wildrose’s high-principled, positive, and generally innocent campaign. An attitude of integrity and idealism is extremely rare in politics anywhere, and from my experience even rarer in the politics of the 40-year-old monopoly party of Alberta.
On the whole subject of Western Separatism, I would strongly urge every member of what was the Western Canada Concept in Alberta to join the Wildrose Party and help to maintain it and strengthen it, and indeed support it with financial donations and with active participation so that the party maintains the option of Independence as a last resort at least.
The Progressive Conservative Party under the leadership of Peter Lougheed, the sort of grey eminence even to the present, has never really countenanced the option of Independence as significant or real. One might ask oneself what became of Mr. Lougheed after he left active politics, joining a well-established law firm, and being appointed to the board of directors of several companies trading on the Toronto Stock Exchange.
This brings me to a very profound topic for Western Separatists. Mr. Parizeau at one time referred to the defeat of the referendum in Quebec as the result of “money and the ethnic vote.” For this, of course, he was publicly humiliated, vilified, and otherwise pilloried, but the difficulty was he spoke the truth. But for the ethnic vote in Montreal, the referendum which was a very near miss would have gone in favour by at least 51% of the electorate of Quebec.
Thankfully, Mr. Ignatieff is being honest, unlike most Canadian politicians. He never has the luxury in retirement of being able to do so. He states in regard to Scottish Independence and that of Quebec that devolution is just a compromise step, a halfway house on the way to Independence.
The sad fact is that Quebec will separate because it has the courage of passionate and devoted citizens in support of the proposition who are not just going to melt away with the latest bribe from Ottawa, or Mr. Harper’s carefully phrased concept of nationhood, which basically are puffs and sops short of legal and real sovereignty. The separatist movement in Quebec has real people behind it who really believe in what they’re doing.
I, as a Western Canadian, also really believe in what I have done since 1974 in favour of Independence for Western Canada. I am equally devoted to the understanding that until people are willing to give up the comforts of their old complacent ways, both the material advantages they’ve enjoyed and the freedom they claim to cherish are in dire jeopardy.
I say this because Canada, just like the United States, is heading further and further into bankruptcy. The so-called fiscal conservatives under the leadership of Mr. Harper have only increased the national debt, and to placate certain divisive factors like the questionable loyalty of the “Progressive Conservative Party of Canada,” Mr. Harper has given Mr. McKay a license to spend $35-billion on fighter jets that could only have use in the event of an international conflict. One really doesn’t know the ultimate cost of these types of arrangements, and once the figures become publicly available, Mr. Harper and his friends choose to vacillate on whether they even have a contract.
This and a number of other questionable activities in the federal Conservatives leads to the inevitable conclusion that anything in Ottawa is going to reek of fiscal mismanagement at best and corruption at worst. Under the Liberals in their willingness to buy off the province of Quebec, corruption was fairly obvious.
Under the Conservatives in their profligate spending and imperial attitude, it’s yet to be revealed just how corrupt the society is. Patronage, payoff, and corruption are the nature of Ottawa politics and the very reason why Independence is essential. In Alberta, the option existed of something new and different and vital. The Wildrose Party was going to re-examine the whole subject of equalization payments, a subject of inter-provincial socialism long overdue for analysis. The Wildrose Party was going to be more sensitive to public opinion on the municipal airport in Edmonton and a few other issues. The Wildrose Party was going to be, in effect, a new and vibrant look at what Alberta could do and should do for the development of its long-term future.
Alberta has been the origin of every major political movement in Canadian history, from the United Farmers of Alberta, to the CCF which became the NDP (which actually originated in Calgary, not in Saskatchewan where it flourished), to the Western Canada Concept which I launched in 1978, and to the Reform Party which trundled off to Ottawa looking for support in Ontario, and eventually realized that it couldn’t be true to what it set out to do, then came home, died or melded into the Conservative Party.
So one sees the frustration of Western Canada as longstanding and historical, and Alberta as the backbone of this whole movement. British Columbia, on the other hand, has more of a placid attitude to everything, based upon the fact that it has a super-abundance of virtually every natural and environmental beauty, and an enormous situation at the crossroads of trans-Pacific trade.
The ultimate purpose of all this analysis is simply to explain to Albertans and Western Canadians generally who may have an interest that Western Separatism is just as inevitable as Quebec Separation, and far more likely to succeed economically. The bankruptcy of Ottawa, which is soon to follow that of the United States, is both inevitable and obvious to those of us who are looking at it today.
The timid voters of Alberta who chose rather to bear those ills they have than fly to others that they know not of and voted Conservative as a result, are really putting off the inevitable day when they’re going to have to come to grips with some real issues. Either they surrender their wealth and the future of their children to a tax and spend government in Ottawa, or they opt for Independence, get real about life, and support a new and vital idea that will create long term benefits for the land they live in.
I have been the origin, over many years, of the only positive, vital alternative to the stagnation that Ottawa represents. Western Canadian Independence is thwarted only by a vast influx of people who are totally oblivious to the long term history and culture of Western Canada, who see it only as a place to make money and become prosperous.
Very much like Jack Parizeau’s “money and the ethnic vote,” they think in only material terms, but even this growing minority will inevitably have to face a question: do you want to be taxed out of everything you’ve worked for to support a government you don’t control?
When this question hits home with those who have come to realize how Canada operates, which for the intelligent is not very long in coming, they will reach for and support the only option that promises long-term benefits in the land from which they derive their wealth and comfort. The long-term benefits of Independence are obvious to anyone who has lived here for any time and looked realistically at the economic situation, but this cannot be avoided by anyone with intelligence that comes here, works here, pays taxes here, and watches them go down the rat hole of profligate spending, bribery, and corruption in Ottawa.
In all this, Danielle Smith represented a breath of fresh air, integrity, and a certain naïve innocence which was in political life entirely refreshing and encouraging. Her heroic concession speech demonstrated both a realization, sadly inflicted upon her, of the cowardice of her fellow Albertans, and a realization that as she put it, “change is going to take a little while longer than we thought.”
I can only urge those who today are sitting on the sidelines in Alberta, friends of Independence, and friends of Western Canada to think of two things.
Firstly, Danielle Smith in the midst of a pressurized election chose the high road of not abandoning those who may, by indiscretion have said something not politically suitable for the palate of the average liberals of Central Canada, and refused to sacrifice people who exercise their rights of free speech, however erroneously.
Secondly, that Danielle Smith represented a form of political leadership that is both democratic, populist, and genuine in its desire to bring about significant change, especially to the fundamental injustice of Alberta subsidizing the profligate spending of Ottawa and provinces like Quebec who choose not to live within their means.
Stephen Harper, I’m sure, is far happier to see the same old, same old, the Progressive Conservatives of Alberta, who from previous history he knows can be counted on to be bought off or scared off by the Central Canadian establishment.
If the foregoing two points impress you then think of this essential truth: That unless political parties get money which is the oxygen of politics, and active political support in door-to-door campaigning and in participation in party caucuses and meetings, every political party fails. Every Western Separatist should take encouragement from the official opposition status of the Wildrose Party, get involved in supporting it, and participate in correcting any errors that you might see within it as patiently, diplomatically, and gently as you can, so that gradually the party comes to reflect important principles that you and I might share.
No political party is ever perfect. In fact, politics is in its essence the art of the possible with the imperfections that are inevitable, and for this reason it is also unavoidable. If we do not participate in politics, we’re doomed to live subject to the will of other people and much as it’s unpleasant, uncomfortable, and expensive to participate in the democratic process that we have, it is our eternal duty, and if it isn’t carried forward, it will be our undying shame that we do not do everything within our power to bring about the society we want.
For this reason, I’m encouraged by the success of the Wildrose Party which is nothing short of remarkable in itself, even with 17 seats.
In addition, I would like to remind all of my friends that at the age of 66 years, which is the situation today on the 24th of April, I look back on the previous period of time, from 1974 when I first declared for Independence in the Times Colonist, to the present day, and I realize that every honest, compromising effort by Western Canadians, particularly Albertans, has resulted in failure, and the only significant, viable, realistic alternative is Independence.
It was so in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, and for this reason I urge you to come to the important realization that you and I together must continue to persevere in politics, to support those who make sense as much as we can, and to support the whole idea of Independence as the viable and necessary option that it is.
Until and unless the average Albertan and Western Canadian experiences the pain of tax bankruptcy -- which is coming, I fear and regret -- they will not take the option of Independence seriously in the vast majority of cases. We, however, the few who know, understand, and care, have a moral and ethical burden to inform our fellow citizens so that it can never be said that no one ever told them about this wonderful option of a new and independent country.
In doing our duty, we must support those who come as close as they can in their conscience to supporting our position, realizing there are always some to be found among every group who know and understand what we’re saying when we speak about Independence.
I look back on the period from 1974 to the present, a period of 38 years, in which I have seen the rise and fall of the Reform Party and the success of the so-called Conservatives under Stephen Harper, and the rise again of the Wildrose Party of Alberta, all of which have fallen short of obtaining the significant goal of a country of, for, and by the people of Western Canada. I am by no means discouraged in this, since I realize the formation of a corrupt institution which has lasted since 1867 is not likely to be dissolved within a space of 40 years.
But as you can see, Quebec Separatism over its lifetime has progressively come closer to 50% in the referenda that have occurred, and by no means is Canada’s existence ordained by God or some supernatural rational force. It is, in fact, inherently flawed, unbalanced, and uncorrectable. No Senate reform is ever going to achieve success with the support of Quebec or Ontario, since it would minimize the power they hold in Parliament, which today monopolizes the distribution of wealth from Western Canada. A child of ten would be able to figure this out in a simple arithmetic game with ten partners and two bullies. Time will demonstrate that reason will prevail.
So our goal, from now until we are no long able to perform our duties to our fellow citizens, will be to rationally explain why Western Canada is in the position it’s in, and how politically, economically, culturally, linguistically, and fiscally, Western Canada represents the one hope of a balanced budget and low taxation, environmentally pristine, agriculturally and resource productive, self-sufficient, and inherently democratic, a nation we could become.
Whatever time is left in my life, I intend to pursue this same and noble goal with diligence, intelligence, and rational debate and argument. I hope you will continue to assist me in this endeavour so that history will record that there were some among us who would not surrender to despair, corruption, and the inevitable taunt that politics is best left to those self-interested deceivers best able to misrepresent the truth to their fellow citizens. That would be a legacy of over-taxation, bankruptcy, and despair to which we should never surrender ourselves by any willing means, or the descendants who come after us.
Free the West!
Douglas (Doug) Hewson Christie
In the mid-seventies, Mr. Christie founded the 'Committee for Western Independence' a group which advocated separation of the western provinces from Canada. In 1978 he lead a caravan of supporters across the four western provinces, holding meetings in cities, towns and villages explaining the unfair balance towards the west, as well as the Maritime provinces about Confederation. He founded Western Canada Concept, a separatist party which ran candidates in Western Canada. Doug is a Canadian Lawyer who practises law and resides in Victoria, British Columbia.