Responding, Kenney told the media, “I am a Canadian patriot and I believe the vast majority of Albertans in their hearts are patriots. I don’t believe patriotism can be qualified. You can’t put conditions on love of country. You either have it or you don’t.”
Barnes does not name Kenney in his statement, but appears to respond to his main points.
The first line of Barnes’ weekend response was, “I am an Alberta patriot.”
Barnes went a step further in stating, “I do not believe in unconditional support for federalism.”
Kenney told the media that as people and investment fled Quebec during that province’s two independence referendums, so would also happen in Alberta.
“We’re certainly not going to get investment to bring jobs back in Alberta if we create a crisis of confidence by having a vote on separation…They went from Montreal mainly to Toronto. Real estate prices collapsed overnight and hundreds of thousands of Quebecers left the province,” said Kenney.
Barnes’ seemingly took issue with that in his own statement.
“The argument that an independent Alberta will fail, based on equivalating Quebec’s story to Alberta’s, is incorrect,” the Cypress-Medicine Hat MLA wrote in a Facebook post Saturday.
“Quebec’s independence movement was linguistically and ethnically motivated, and therefore scared investment and many of its minority’s groups away, and was fiscally unsound. By contrast, Alberta’s independence movement is motivated by a drive for freedom and equality, and is based on a strong financial footing.”
“Without transferring a net $20 billion a year to Ottawa, we would retain the freedom to either increase our own spending on government programs, or to drastically cut taxes. We would quickly become the first debt-free country in the world…In fact, an independent Alberta would have the 9th highest GDP per capita in the world, ranking us with Singapore and Switzerland…Ottawa never spends a dollar in Alberta that it didn’t take from Alberta first.”
Kenney also said not a lot of Albertans want independence, and that it was an empty threat.
“You don’t make a threat that you’re not prepared to keep, and I have not seen a single public opinion poll that indicates we’re anywhere close to the majority of Albertans voting to leave Canada,” Kenney told reporters.
Barnes seemingly disagreed on this point as well.
“Support for independence is no longer limited to a small fringe…In my own constituency of Cypress-Medicine Hat, people are no longer willing to be bystanders in their own country,” Barnes wrote.
“While there will be heartfelt, honest disagreements about the path forward, I was elected to speak out and represent my constituents, their convictions, and our hope for the future.”
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