Opinion

Trudeau's neglect of the nation has led us to this place

Dark resentments thought buried in this part of the country have been reawakened, say Donna Kennedy-Glans and Don Hill.

Dark resentments thought buried in this part of the country have been reawakened

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is putting Canadian confederation at risk, say Donna Kennedy-Glans & Don Hill. (Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press)

In an astonishing statement to the New York Times in 2015, Justin Trudeau declared, "There is no core identity, no mainstream in Canada,'' and consequently that "makes us the first post-national state."

This kind of talk would have been horrifying to Peter Lougheed, Alberta's premier from 1971 to 1985. He believed in Canada. He had faith in our national institutions. But the intransigence of the federal government led by Pierre Elliot Trudeau tested that faith.

And now we have Justin Trudeau, a prime minister who, like his father, has odd ideas about the country, the world, and Alberta's place in it.

Dark resentments thought buried in this part of the country have been reawakened.

The ideas behind Canadian confederation are at risk.

Albertans are perplexed, and now many are angry. Why is our prime minister, we say, so obsessively focused on his role as heroic defender of a post-nation world and in doing so, neglects the needs of his own country?

Other national leaders (France's Emmanuel Macron, for one), have learned what happens when you ignore the wishes of your citizens. Riots reminiscent of the events of 1968 in France, triggered the country's prime minister, and soon after the president, to back away from a loathed carbon tax.

A protester wearing a yellow vest, the symbol of a French drivers' protest against higher diesel fuel prices, holds a flag near burning debris near the A2 Paris-Brussels Motorway, in Fontaine-Notre-Dame, France, on Dec. 4, 2018. (Pascal Rossignol/Reuters)

In his attempts to satisfy liberal progressives and conservatives on the politics of petroleum and pipelines, our prime minister has swallowed both the red pill and the blue pill. Canada is not The Matrix.

Waking up into Justin Trudeau's worldly view is irrational — a sign of childish naiveté at best.

Trudeau said, to conclude the interview with the Times, "I'm excited to be on the world stage." And continued, ''I think people are starting to see that I'm actually reasonably fit for this office.''

We beg to differ.

Realpolitik

The Trudeaus have never understood — or seemed fond of — Alberta or the aspirations of the West.

Our prime minister is focused on a global agenda. Meanwhile, he and his team are setting Canada against itself.

One only has to look to recent events in France and the European project, in general, with Brexit a clue as to why nations are no longer keen on abandoning their autonomy for the lofty ambitions of leaders on the world stage.

Former prime minister Brian Mulroney is seen in this file photo from November 2017. (Justin Tang/Canadian Press)

Brian Mulroney, one of our nation's elder statesmen, recently offered Trudeau some wisdom: It's the job of the Canadian prime minister to look after Canada first and the rest of the world next.

That may sound like America First. China first. India, too — first.

It's realpolitik.

Blind spots and willful ignorance

Pro-rationing the sale of oil from Alberta — as a mandate, not a PR stunt — is a unique weapon in the hands of a political leader. This isn't an angry mob of dairy farmers, spilling milk down drains rather than selling it below cost.

This is the government of a province in Canada saying: Enough! This madness must stop!

And by sheer neglect, Trudeau created the conditions where the only legitimate response in Alberta crossed party lines, demonstrating a unity among Albertans that he's either not seeing or is willfully blind to.

It's our oil and gas. Full stop. Canada's constitution amended in 1930 said as much: provinces own and control the resources underfoot. And selling for prices below the cost of production isn't fair to the royalty owners — it's also stupid business.

Meantime: Our prime minister's neglect, even callousness, is driving a wedge between regions and igniting Western alienation. He's playing with fire.

Trudeau and his cabinet have been preoccupied with their global vision of how things ought to be at the expense of how things are in the country. Alberta Premier Rachel Notley, along with her Saskatchewan counterpart Scott Moe, had to practically beg the prime minister to give the energy crisis pride of place on Friday's first ministers conference agenda.

Is it any wonder Albertans, for the second time in a generation, have executed extraordinary measures in their legislature to protect the province from an incorrigible federal leadership?

And that raises another question.

Are we all — as citizens of this country — complicit in allowing this prime minister to go forward on his destructive path toward a post-nation state?

At what price comes his glory?


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About the Author

Donna Kennedy-Glans & Don Hill

Co-authors

Donna Kennedy-Glans is a former Progressive Conservative MLA. She spent 28 years in the energy sector, and currently writes the blog Beyond Polarity. Don Hill is a broadcaster, writer, and digital media producer. A former host of CBC Radio One’s Tapestry, and presenter of numerous documentaries on IDEAS, Don also enjoyed a long association with CKUA Radio Network.

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