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Time for western premiers to stand up for Canada and unity

Columnist Ron Walter writes about the growing western separation movement
Trading Thoughts by Ron Walter

Since October’s federal election, political analysts and politicians have almost declared a national emergency on the political landscape’s division among the two largest parties.

The Liberals were shut out of Alberta and Saskatchewan in this federal election. That fact and the small rising voice of western separatism have created an-end-of-Canada-is-near attitude.

A look at past elections clearly shows frequent incidents of Liberals being shut out of Alberta and Saskatchewan.

Since 1935, the Liberals have not elected an MP in Alberta in 11 of 22 elections. Saskatchewan voters have shut out the Liberals in seven of 22 elections.

The Liberal drought in Saskatchewan ran for three successive elections in the 1980s. Alberta saw no Liberal MPs elected from 1977 to 1988.

Loss of any Liberal MPs in these two provinces should not be the end of the world. Both have gone long periods without any representation in Liberal governments or in cabinet.

That is not to say we shouldn’t worry about the separatist movement.

Western separation, or Western alienation, has been around before in the 1980s when Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau’s National Energy Plan raised hackles and briefly in the 1990s when the Reform Party swept the West.

None of these previous separatist movements got out of the mud hole they dug.

This time could be the same except for a broader sense of alienation from the Eastern-focused Liberals. There are plenty of Albertans who actually believe Justin Trudeau hates the west.

That kind of emotional outrage can have bitter consequences. The odds of a successful separation of these two landlocked provinces are long.

The separatist claim that international law would require neighbouring countries to allow pipelines is not correct. The international law provides for such pipelines, but only once an agreement is negotiated.

They would need to develop their own currency and central banking system, their own military defence and foreign relations posts, among other matters.

No longer would the average incomes — currently number one and two in Canada — be that high.

But people voting out of rage can easily forget or ignore that scenario as Americans did when electing Donald Trump president of the United States.

Stemming the western separatist movement should be a number one priority for political leaders. 

That priority should include not only Prime Minister Justin Trudeau but the premiers of Alberta and Saskatchewan. Both premiers are irresponsible in their handling of the matter.

Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe refuses to condemn or criticize the separatist movement while Alberta Premier Jason Kenney actually fans the flames of western separatism with his language.

It’s time for these premiers to stand up for Canada as well as their own provinces unless they secretly harbour separatist plans.

Ron Walter can be reached at

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the position of this publication.  

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