It has been an ugly week for democracy in Alberta. The ramming of Bill 22 through every reading within three days by the United Conservative Party was an act of legislative arrogance that would have made Alison Redford blush.
On issues such as abortion, Jason Kenney was quite clear that neither he nor the UCP would open the issue up. His exact words are below:
“A United Conservative government will not address this issue, will not engage in this debate, will not initiate legislation.” ~Kenney
Well, here we are eight months later watching a UCP dominated committee discussing a bill modeled to impact abortion access which was put forth as a private members bill by a UCP member.
Conscience rights for medical providers are already protected within the Charter and by medical professional associations. There has been no indication of problems in the medical community with this issue. The Alberta Medical Association has come out in opposition to this bill. The bottom line is that this is a redundant piece of legislation which potentially opens the door for new ways to hinder the provision of medical services.
The United Conservative Party can regain at least a glimmer of credibility when it comes to democratic process if we see a true free vote among the members on this bill.
In saying free vote, I mean each and every elected member taking a stand one way or another on this bill. No sudden stomach ailments making members scoot out of the chamber at voting time. No scheduling conflicting events at voting time. I am saying show up and have it recorded where you stand on this issue. I will consider any member who doesn’t vote on Bill 207 as being in support of re-opening the abortion debate within Alberta.
A few UCP MLAs have already come out in opposition to this bill. I appreciate that and look forward to seeing more come out.
There is little to celebrate in this legislative session when it comes to democracy. One thing we can potentially look to as a democratic victory will be to see the party in power allowing a true free vote in the legislature on this bill.
The standing committee responsible just voted 8-2 in favor of killing Bill 207.
Now let’s see the collected MLAs vote freely in the legislature to definitively kill this odious bill.
I turned on the radio while at work today just in time to hear a repugnant rant from a woman who was cheered on by an audience as she derided Canadian hockey culture as being a nest of bullying white boys.
I had to look it up and listen again as I really couldn’t believe that a Canadian audience would let somebody spout out such a rant of vile pap without booing them off the stage.
It is a gross irony that this comfortable urban living white woman is deriding a Canadian institution which has actually been a binding factor for all races, genders and walks of life in communities across Canada for generations.
I live in Priddis Alberta. While rural, it is a bedroom community of Calgary. We also bound on the Tsuu T’ina native reserve. We have a pretty diverse local population.
We have two things which are community hubs which pull people together. Our community hall (over 100 years old), and our outdoor hockey rink.
Just this year we have had dozens of local volunteers working their asses off to renovate and get our little rink ready for the winter. It has been great to go out at night to see a whole bunch of people working together on a project like that.
They are just finishing the player boxes and should be flooding the rink for the season soon.
The rink will be packed with families for the entire winter.
Most of our community lives on acreages. We don’t often meet and get to know our neighbors. Winters are long and cold and people tend to shut in. The hockey rink brings people out of their homes and brings them together.
I love looking out from my pub (across the road from the rink) to see the kids scrambling around chasing a puck while their families cheer them on. Contrary to what that myopic dolt Jessica Allen implied, these groups are far from simply being white boys. The number of girls on the ice is starting to rival the boys and there are children of a number of races out there playing. This is how kids and parents from different cultures get to know each other. This is how they bond. This is how we do learn that at the very base of things, we are all the same. This somehow offends the senses of Jessica Allen.
Allen says that folks should take their kids on a vacation rather than play hockey? A two week trip rather than an entire season of healthy competitive exercise and bonding within the community?
Kids sit around playing too damn many video games as it is. It is astounding that some vacuous stooge such as Allen could claim that getting out and playing hockey is a bad thing (to the applause of gathered Stepford Wives).
The scene I have described here is repeated in thousands of rinks across Canada. These are social hubs which build and bind communities. If we want to reduce racism and gender issues, we need to be encouraging more community sports like this, not deriding them as that fool Allen did.
Not all communities meet and bond while sipping $12 lattes in downtown Toronto Ms. Allen. You would be well served to get out and learn that. And to the women who gleefully cheered Allen’s bigoted rant, you should be ashamed of yourself.
We need to celebrate traditions which bring people together if we want to see community unity in Canada. Intolerant twits like Jess Allen only drive us apart.
The best way Jason Kenney could shut down the Alberta independence movement would be to hold a separation referendum within a year. Once Albertans vote over 75 percent in favor of remaining within confederation, it would take at least a decade before an independence movement could gain steam again.
Support for separation is hot right now and it isn’t cooling quickly. No matter how eager one is to go however, one has to step back and have a look at just how strong that support is.
A recent poll showed that 33 percent of Albertans think that “my province would be better off if it separated from Canada”. That is not saying that the province should separate or that they would support the separation. They just feel that the province would be better off. This is not the sort of support which will get over 50 percent of the province to vote to separate.
I have run in two different elections under an independence banner. I knocked on countless doors and the trend was clear. Albertans are always pissed off with Ottawa but very few are ready to actually pull the trigger on secession even if it looks like a better deal. One of the main things aside from sentimentality which keeps people from pursuing secession is the utter lack of a solid, coherent plan as to what would happen. They asked many questions to which I didn’t have answers then and I still don’t have them now.
Right now the independence movement is essentially a loose collection of groups holding rallies and shouting buzzwords but not building any sort of solid organization or plan. They are demanding a referendum yet can’t tell people what the West would look like after a “yes” vote. This will fizzle over time if a solid and rational foundation isn’t built.
Many questions are repeated over and over again. Some have ready answers and some don’t yet. Until those answers are developed nobody will be going anywhere.
I am going to list the most common ones.
WHICH COMBINATION OF PROVINCES WILL GO?
Is it an Alberta independence movement or a Western independence movement? Will it include Maniboba and Saskatchewan? What about the territories?
Some people have proposed taking part of British Columbia but leaving the Southwest portion out.
How could that be organized?
If we are going further into partition, what if Edmonton clearly votes to stay while the rest of the province votes to go? Could Edmonton become a small Canadian territory within an independent Alberta?
I am not asking these things simply to be difficult. I think they can be answered but it won’t be easy and these are things that people have and will ask before considering separation.
WHAT ABOUT FIRST NATIONS?
This is a dicey area. There were treaties signed with the Crown. I am assuming an independent West will be a republic. Will those treaties be then considered void? Will they be honored within a new nation?
This is one area where I can see the most justification for an outside nation to intervene whether Canada or otherwise is if there is real or perceived abuse of First Nations.
Unrest from people residing within reserves will need to be addressed as well.
WHAT SORT OF POLITICAL SYSTEM WILL BE ADOPTED?
I mentioned a republic but that is still pretty broad. Will it be bicameral? Westminster Parliamentary based? Unitary? Decentralized?
At the very least some sort of draft constitution needs to be created.
WHAT SORT OF CURRENCY WILL BE USED?
Will Canadian dollars be retained? American dollars used? Shekels? Will any country be willing to facilitate that?
Perhaps an Alberta dollar? Bitcoin?
Creating a new currency and integrating it with the world markets won’t be easy.
WHAT ABOUT ASSETS WITHIN AND OUTSIDE OF ALBERTA?
Many Albertans own property and assets outside of the province. Many Canadians own property within Alberta. Many companies are integrated with assets throughout the country. How will that be addressed?
This sort of thing could take decades to sort out if there isn’t a detailed transition plan.
Will there be a military? Will it be a large one? Small? Will it take part in NATO? UN?
What about current military assets within and outside of Alberta?
What about military personal stationed within and outside of Alberta?
IS THERE A PLAN TO JOIN THE UNITED STATES?
Would the USA want us? Would we want to join?
Would existing officers be able to join a new force?
How open will the borders be? Will we welcome a large number of immigrants? A few? None? Will Canadian immigrants be prioritized over others?
ACCESS TO TIDEWATER?
There are still many more questions out there but I think I have made my point. I may as well end this list on a big and constantly pressing one.
Alberta and most of the independence proposals mean being landlocked. That in and of itself is not necessarily bad but it is a challenge. Switzerland, Austria and Luxembourg are among the richest nations on earth yet they are landlocked. Some of the poorest nations are landlocked too.
The point is valid that we are having our product blocked from port access right now so there is little to lose in becoming independent.
Some folks keep pointing to the UN policies on landlocked nations. These are often the same people who say that the UN is an invalid organization though so which is it going to be?
The international conventions on access to tidewater don’t explicitly cover pipelines and they still require negotiation. There are nations that have blocked other nations from tidewater for decades as well. If they want to ignore orders from the UN there really isn’t much stopping them from doing so.
A rational plan has to be developed and published on this or it will be one of the biggest question marks killing a potential independence vote win.
Many are willing to attend the rallies and make the noise for independence. That is the fun part.
The reality is though that if Western independence is ever to happen, it will only come about with years of hard work and planning. Meetings, fights over policies, negotiation and late nights along with some really tedious conventions are required. That is not the fun part but it is the essential part.
My advice for those impatiently calling for a referendum on secession is to cool their jets for a bit here. Look at what needs to be done first if you are serious about this.
Secession if it ever is going to happen is going to be years away yet. In the meantime lets start building the foundation for it. Bring home our pension assets. Take control of immigration. Form our own police force. Build new relationships with First Nations independent from Ottawa. Always stand up to the federal government and develop provincial alternatives to every service that they provide when possible.
Along with pursuing all of the “Alberta Agenda” sort of policies above, plan, meet, think and answer those questions. If you don’t you will never get a “yes” vote no matter how badly you want it.