Meantime, while we had to rein in our provincial government spending, I do wish that the cabinet had been more circumspect when it slashed provincial funding of our arts and culture by 34 per cent – the largest cut of all government responsibilities. Would that our Premier had made himself even modestly acquainted with the political philosophy of another Conservative leader – Sir Winston Churchill. When England was at its darkest hour during World War II – out of cash, embargoed at sea, firebombed on land, short of fuel, food and armaments – his Minister of Munitions recommended that Churchill cancel his government’s funding of Britain’s arts and culture programs so as to purchase ammunitions. Sir Winston responded by asking that if he did, what would they be fighting for?
Nationally, existential issues are re-emerging. During the French language leaders debate, Yves-Francois Blanchet, leader of the Bloc Quebecois calmly declared that he was not interested in separation, only sovereignty association. He pronounced that it was unnecessarily onerous for Quebeckers to file two income tax returns. He proposed that the Quebec government collect all taxes. Ottawa would be forwarded the amount that it needed to run its programs. Indeed, he declared that Quebec should be recognized no less a Nation than the other First Nations in Canada. And on reflection, surely his proposition is rational, as Quebec already has sovereignty over immigration, its portion (and pollution) of the St. Lawrence River, and international trade agreements (see California cap and trade pact). Mr. Scheer and Mr. Singh said they would look positively on the demand. Mr. Trudeau stood interestedly mute.
Perhaps we should adopt the BQ taxation proposal for Alberta. That would certainly settle matters on equalization payments to Quebec. Of course, if provinces were all to act as independent nations in a sovereignty association federation, we should consider a closer alliance with one or two other provinces. If we are to receive more than a nod and a wink from the big players (Ontario, Quebec and B.C.), surely we should formally integrate ourselves with Saskatchewan to at least appear respectable in terms of geographical size, population and government efficiency. Of course, we would need to have a new capital city – Saskatoon has a nice sound and is well known for its berries. Then we could have a frolicking debate about our new name – Alberchewan or Saskaberta – and learn to love the Roughriders.
Alan Murdock is a local pediatrician.