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Alberta wants out - Wednesday, July 07, 2004 at 11:03

Alberta wants out

R.B. Hutton in
National Post

Wednesday, July 07, 2004

CALGARY - For a Canadian nationalist, last week's federal election results will prove to be devastating. For an Alberta separatist, the results were the best thing to happen in 40 years. The strong Liberal minority, if we can call it that, has fuelled Western alienation and will lead to the eventual break-up of Canada.

Westerners were hoping for a Conservative majority to end what they perceive as corruption in Ottawa. They would have been happy with a Conservative minority or a weak Liberal minority. The rationale was simple: A weak minority government can be held accountable for its actions and is therefore both responsible and responsive. Accountable government is, sadly, a concept that has been sorely lacking in this country since the mid-1960s.

Why would responsible, once-proud Canadians consider something as dramatic as separation? The reasons are numerous, and date back to Pierre Trudeau's blatant arrogance toward the West. -- who can forget his one-finger salute? -- and such policies such as the National Energy Program.

The media, the political pundits, and voters of central and eastern Canada will say the West -- what they mean to say is the Neanderthal rednecks from the West -- are like spoiled brats who don't like how the game is being played and are threatening to take their ball and go home. In one sense, I think they are finally getting it right. But we Alberta separatists are not just taking the ball -- we are taking the game and the revenue that goes with it. It will be interesting to see how the rest of Canada reacts without our golden goose.

The perception in Central Canada is that Ontario singlehandedly carries the rest of the country financially. Nothing could be further from the truth. Until 2001, Ontario, Alberta and British Columbia were net contributors to Ottawa, while the rest of the country's provinces were net recipients under the Federal Transfer Program. On a per-capita basis, Alberta pays the most. Unfortunately, a few years of New Democrat governance in British Columbia has destroyed that province's economy and they are now a have-not province and a net recipient from the Federal Transfer Program. Hopefully, their economy can recover in the future.

Even dim-witted, knuckle-dragging Westerners understand that without oil and gas revenue, Alberta would be a true have-not region. This non-renewable resource is the primary fuel and main reason for Alberta's vibrant economy. Unfortunately, the excess revenue that should be used to diversify that economy, develop end-use manufacturing and build for the future is being shipped to Ottawa to be squandered by the federal government and its out-of-control bureaucracy.

A "Triple-E" Senate will not stop the economic drain from Alberta. In 2002, Albertans sent $10-billion to Ottawa, followed by another $11-billion in 2003, for a total of $21-billion.

In layman's terms, that would put 1,258 loonies on every single foot of the centre line of the Trans Canada highway from Victoria to Halifax. The net cost to Alberta since 1961 to be Canadian has been in excess of $250-billion, with no return on investment. Alberta cannot afford to continue to subsidize Canada and many Albertans believe it is no longer acceptable for us to do so.

The newly registered Separation Party of Alberta will be running candidates in Alberta's upcoming provincial election. SPA is the only viable alternative for the people of Alberta. Separation from Canadian Confederation, forming our own country and using the excess wealth from oil and gas to diversify our economy is the only hope for Alberta's future. It must be done. And if that means changing the game, so be it.

R.B. (Bruce) Hutton is the founder and Interim Leader Separation Party of Alberta;