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LETTER: I love Alberta too much to support separation

"If anything, separation would make pipelines less likely."

After reading Ken Allred's rant about how the West allegedly 'wants out' (Aug. 12 Gazette), I just have one thing to say: Speak for yourself.

Allred actually makes a number of valid points about the problems Western Canada faces, like our being underrepresented in Parliament, about how we’re shafted when it comes to our resources, and so on. He goes completely off the rails, though, when he raves about how Pierre Trudeau and his supporters accomplished the ‘francization’ of Canada.

What Allred forgets – or perhaps prefers not to mention – is that Quebec separatism and Trudeau’s bilingual policies in fact came from most of the English-majority provinces deliberately denying and repressing the rights of their French-speaking minorities. Meanwhile, Quebec has always made exceptions and exemptions of its Anglophone minority from its French policies. Allred seems to be promoting the bizarre, contradictory logic that Quebec should accommodate its English minority (which it should!) but the French minorities in the rest of the country should shut up.

That strange double standard is directly responsible for making a lot of Quebecers feel like they could only maintain their French heritage as a separate country, and which the likes of Trudeau tried to correct with bilingualism.

As for the idea that the Charter of Rights and Freedoms ‘francized’ Canada, Allred should remember that Peter Lougheed and the rest of the Western premiers signed the 1982 Constitution Act. Western Canada’s fingerprints are all over the deal, ranging from the recognition of provincial resource rights to the amending formula. If anything, Trudeau’s changes were far more popular in the English-majority rest of Canada than they were in a Quebec that never signed the deal.

I’d also point out that Alberta Conservative Stephen Harper spent nearly a decade in office. Like a true Albertan, he pulled himself up by his bootstraps and learned French, and reaped the political rewards. He didn’t sweep Quebec, but the support he got there was critical for his first few years in power.

From everything I’ve seen, support for separatism is increasing because of our economic problems. But even then, polls indicate that a majority of Albertans oppose it, even when things are as bad as they are. Separatism wouldn’t even solve our problems anyway. Besides everything from the economic and political chaos that would send investors running for the hills to Alberta being carved up through partition (essentially everything people said would happen to Quebec in 1995), it wouldn’t help get pipelines built.

If anything, separation would make pipelines less likely. Separatists claim that UN Convention on the Law of the Sea would require the rest of Canada to allow us to build a pipeline through its territory, but Article 124 (2) clearly states that Canada’s consent would be necessary. In other words, the Convention would be useless and an independent Alberta would have almost no leverage. How would it, when goods and flights would probably just go around us through the United States or the northern territories?

I love Alberta too much to support separation.

Jared Milne, St. Albert