Right in the centre - Western separation unlikely to happen, but...


By Ken Waddell

Neepawa Banner & Press

In the days following the Oct. 21 federal election, the results graphically showed that the Liberal Party did very poorly west of the Ontario-Manitoba border. In fact, they didn’t do all that great in Quebec either. For a federal party to be shut out of Saskatchewan and Alberta states loudly that their message is not going over well in those two provinces. The Liberals also lost seats in Manitoba and B.C. The cries of western separation came out loud and clear. There are rallies and conferences planned all over Alberta to discuss the steps toward separation.

The anger felt by westerners is not unfounded. The Liberals have been trying to crush the Alberta and Saskatchewan oil industry for decades. Two generations of the Trudeau family have openly expressed their disdain for western oil. Quebec refuses to allow a pipeline to the east and seems to favour Saudi oil for some strange reason. I suspect it has a lot to do with the idea that the Irving refineries are heavily invested in oil tanker ships and their refineries reportedly can’t refine oilsands oil. I don’t know for sure, but it does make sense, I guess.

How all this will turn out is anybody’s guess. Alberta and Saskatchewan are pretty upset about the equalization payments going to Quebec, all the while, not being able to ship oil to that province. The rallies and conferences will be wild and woolly affairs this winter.

There are some things, though, that make a person wonder. Like why does the media, and Elections Canada, allow the Bloc Quebecois to even participate in the leaders’ debates? They have no intention of being a national party, so why are they even allowed on the stage? That’s a mystery to me.

Another thing is how the media can get their election coverage so wrong. Trudeau loses seats and it is called a victory. Singh loses seats and it’s called a victory. Scheer wins back more seats than either the Liberals or NDP lost and it’s called a loss.

For the most part, the mainstream media has had a longstanding bias in favour of the Liberals and NDP. There are several reasons for that. One, journalism schools are geared to socialism, or at least to a strong government intervention model. They are generally opposed to people expressing their faith and would be more comfortable if “religious” people would just stay quiet. The biggest media outlets are being subsidized by government. The Liberal government put up a huge amount of money for media this year and the CBC has been receiving huge government subsidies for decades. When journalists are trained to be biased and negative and many of them know their industry depends on government hand-outs, it’s pretty tough for the “smaller government, tighter spending theories” put forward by conservatives to get a foothold.

Separation isn’t likely to fly, because Canadians are generally loyalists and the constitution doesn’t really allow for it. Manitoba premier Brian Pallister has come out against separation. He is strong in his views on that and Manitoba does get $2 billion in equalization payments, but I don’t think that is why Pallister is against separation.

Hopefully, Pallister is seeing the bigger picture, whereby prairie oil could reach export markets by way of an energy/transportation corridor to the only deep sea port on the prairies, the Port of Churchill. If that corridor were to be developed, the economic development problems for all three prairie provinces might be solved. It’s a project that won’t likely see support from Quebec, but do we care? It may not make sense or be feasible for the prairies to separate, but it is time for the three prairie provinces to get their economic act together. Waiting on federal fairness has not worked for the past 150 years, so why would we wait for that to change?

Disclaimer: The writer serves as a volunteer chair of the Manitoba Community Newspaper Association. The views expressed in this column are the writer’s personal views and are not to be taken as being  the view of the MCNA board or Banner & Press staff.