Sunday, February 04, 2007

Old Time Alberta Cons Still Angst over NEP and Threaten Separation

Lorne Gunter’s tirade in the Edmonton Journal today is so far out of whack with the current realities Alberta is facing. We are working to design ways to balance growth with enhanced environmental protection and provide the social infrastructure needed to ensure a quality of life for our citizens. We have to do this all at the same time with an accelerating sense of urgency on all fronts and in appreciation of the serious consequences if we fail.

The old Reform/Alliance angst of an oppressed Alberta still causes them to trot out the NEP mantra that “Ottawa is out to get us” every time they sense a slight. It is a tired and inaccurate rant. Give it up Lorne. Alberta has grown up, matured politically - and has moved on. The old-time religion types who see an Alberta being oppressed by Ottawa at every turn, have clearly not yet moved on with the rest of the province. There are as many people revisiting the NEP in Alberta today as there are Elvis sightings in the province…and they are usually the same people.

Todd Babiak’s blog posting today, in the same newspaper, has a more realistic take on the sense and sentiment of the challenges Alberta is facing today. They are being addressed and revolve around concerns for balancing sustainable economic growth in the face of mitigating climate change and other serious ecological concerns. The short shrift that the social side of Alberta life has experienced as of late is just now coming on the political radar screen. We have insufficient resources invested in public infrastructure and the resulting decline in capacity that has befallen providers in our social services sector adds to the challenges of Alberta's growth.

There is an emerging alternative Alberta reaction to the “Ottawa is out to get us” mentality. That is the extortion mentality of Alberta separation. There is a latent 10% voter support for Albertans to "hold our breath" until we get our way - or we will taking our energy football “home” and leave Canada…so there!

Neil Waugh in the Edmonton Sun today pays homage to that sentiment in a nod to the fact there is always the Clarity Act after all. Alberta could use it if we don’t like how the world (meaning Ottawa) is bowing to our interests. None of this helping much to sustain Alberta political support for the suddenly Quebec friendly and Green Conversion of Prime Minister Harper. He signed the infamous Alberta Firewall letter, so I guess he deserves some heat from that front too.

In the mean time we have some genuine efforts and initiatives being pursued by the Alberta government and in our industrial sectors trying to catch up and get ahead of the curve on all of this. Our monthly LaPresse column outlines some of the positive efforts being made in that regard in Alberta that need recognition and encouragement.

I will post the LaPresse piece in this Blog on Monday to show what I mean.


  1. Instead of waiting for Ottawa to come "get us" why doesn't our provincial government take the proactive step of getting out front. I feel like a broken record when I say why don't we become leaders in confederation instead of just whiny spoiled brats (a carefully selected analogy).

    Fortunately I'm starting to feel this is becoming a prevailing attitude of most Albertans and the 10% minority is really becoming an outcast minority - in the way say smokers are. (But that's a different blog post.)

  2. ken chapman5:39 pm

    The GOA has been in suspended animation for at least 2 years while the PC leadership thing settled out. T

    he Party membership itself finally brought some focus to the lack of direction and governance wen it let Ralph know it was time to go last April 1.

    It has taken another year to get that leadership change over with and this spring session and budget ought to show they have turned the corner and gotten back into governing.

    About 15 months from now we will have an election and citizens can decide who, how and to what ends they want to be governed. That is when we can hopefuly get back on track and get some serious progress made.

    We have squandered so much time and opportunity in the past years it is to weep!

  3. Ken, I live in Ottawa and I can tell you that the Ottawa-forces-that-be against Alberta are real and not pretty.

    Let's look at one example of "holding your breath" - Premier Williams of NFLD. He took down the Cdn flags and made a stink over equalization; guess what, he got what he wanted and his province, because of his strong leadership, is in a much better position than it was.

    I guess I just have a different view of Confederation than you do. History will illustrate that Alberta has not been treated kindly and this continues to be the case.

  4. Of course Alberta has been treated unfairly in the past. But why stoop to that level when we can raise up above it.

    As I said above I'm finally seeing this become a prevailing sentiment in Alberta.

  5. ken chapman9:41 am

    So eric - do we continue to live in the past or do we find new ways to move forward? That is the debate question within Alberta and its relationship with the ROC.

  6. That the question as you phrase it. It seems to rest on the assertion that you have some type of enlightenment in realizing that constantly fighting with Canada does Alberta little good. For the most part, I would agree. However, we have learnt lessons from the past when we were permissive - should we have fought against the NEP despite it being a losing battle?

  7. ken chapman1:53 pm

    In the reality of those days, the NEP has little real impact on Alberta's economy.

    What happened, as the NEP was being put in place, Bush 41 released American emergency oil reserves in response to middle east conflict issues. It was percieved as an oversupply and as a result the world price of oil dropped dramatically. That drop in price and the geopolitical perceptions versus reality of energy supply is what killed the Alberta economy back then.

    The NEP might have done it too but it was not operational enough to have an impact. It was Bush Sr. who in fact preempted its impact.

    Alberta's economy was crushed as a result in any event.

  8. I understand that the NEP did not by itself destroy the AB economy. It was the thinking behind Trudeau's plan that has fostered AB's mistrust for the federal gov't. Screw the west, we'll get the rest - that mantra still seems to apply today with regards to the LPC (see Mark Holland's recent comments about oilsands, or Dion's statements about stopping the "gravy train").

    Yes, the NEP is over; however, the circumstances that gave rise to it could exist after the next election. A LPC federal government that receives no seats in AB and, thus, has no reason not to intrude in provincial rights.

  9. jonathan sharek11:13 pm

    I find regionalism totally pointless. If I was living in Ft. Mac, I'd wonder why the hell all the gravy is going to Edmonton and especially Calgary.

    If the West separated, what would be the new capital, Vancouver? Sounds like we'd still be on the outside looking in.