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LETTER: Canada needs Alberta and Alberta needs Canada

In reference to Ken Allred's column ("The West wants out," Aug. 12 Gazette ), it is readily apparent that he has a myopic view of Canadian Federalism.
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In reference to Ken Allred's column ("The West wants out," Aug. 12 Gazette), it is readily apparent that he has a myopic view of Canadian Federalism. However, Federalism even with its flaws and shortcomings has not been all that bad for Alberta. During the Depression of the '30s, Alberta was virtually bankrupt. This province, along with Saskatchewan, was bailed out with federal dollars (mostly Ontario and Quebec taxpayers). During the 1950s with the implementation of equalization, and into the 1960s, Alberta was a recipient (have-not) province receiving federal dollars for several years. During the '60s "the feds" again aided Alberta by providing a protected market for oil as far as the Ottawa river (the border between Ontario and Quebec), even though offshore oil was much cheaper.

Recently "the feds" have poured billions of dollars into Alberta for disaster relief: For example, for the Fort McMurray wildfires, southern Alberta floods and Calgary hailstorms. Alberta accounts for three out of four and seven out of 10 of the most costly natural disasters in Canadian history.

Billions were also spent on purchasing the TMX Pipeline to aid the industry, plus millions more for "orphan well" remediation in Alberta. "The feds" also gave more than a quarter billion dollars to Alberta schools. (Those darn meddling "feds"). "The feds," not the province, carried most of the burden dealing with the COVID crisis across the land.

It was Mr. Allred's Conservative colleagues who had close to five decades to rectify Alberta's current plight. The Alberta Conservatives have a dismal investment record over the years. To refresh Mr. Allred's memory the following investments (gambles) might ring a bell – Alpac, Gainers, Mag Can, Miller Western, Novatel, Stony Plain slaughterhouse, Sturgeon Upgrader, Swan Hills Plant plus the recent AIMCO fiasco. Cumulatively, the above cost the Alberta taxpayers several billion dollars. The debacle continues with the current Alberta government gambling approximately $7 billion on the Keystone Pipeline which is in doubt pending the U.S. election.

This debacle is embarrassing, especially in comparison to other successful jurisdictions such as Norway or Alaska, or a viable entity such as the Ontario Teachers' Pension Fund.

As long as we are over-reliant on energy resources and fail to diversify our economy, we will continue on this economic rollercoaster ride.

Such fiscal ineptitude was recently summed up by Ted Morton, a staunch Conservative and former energy minister: "The track record is brutal."

It is delusional thinking that withdrawal from Canada would solve Alberta's problems. Alberta would obviously be more vulnerable in a global economy. Scapegoating "the feds" or Quebec or Ontario, or "international conspiracies" are of limited avail. While French is the fastest growing world language according to Forbes magazine, the fanciful notion of a conspiracy has little evidence.

As far as Alberta's representation in Parliament, Canada, as a democracy, features "representation by population"; therefore we are somewhat disadvantaged being only the fourth most populous province. Yet, Alberta has contributed greatly to Canada over the years.

Canada needs Alberta and Alberta needs Canada.

What Alberta specifically needs and has been generally lacking is a strong, progressive, co-operative, insightful, visionary and COMPETENT government that will lead us into the future.

R. Lecuyer, St. Albert




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