Old West Map

As the 2021 Canadian federal election campaign comes to a close, we reflect on what looks likely to be yet another exercise in futility for Albertans.

Though the election result is of course not yet known, almost any possible result will leave Alberta in at least the same position it is now, if not worse.

With both the Liberals and New Democrats very much committed to the Great Reset – which aims to eliminate the use of fossil fuels as soon as possible – any scenario in which those two parties hold power – and act on those policies – would be very bad indeed for the West, and Alberta specifically.

The Bloc Quebecois, meanwhile, have been staunchly opposed to any pipeline development through their province, despite the fact that Quebec imports copious amounts of oil from the Middle East.

Evidently, this is a popular enough position in Quebec that Bloc Leader Yves-Francois Blanchet made a point of calling out Conservative leader Erin O’Toole on the issue during the English debate, asking O’Toole to re-iterate a promise he’d made in French that, if elected, the Conservatives would not allow a pipeline to be built through Quebec.

O’Toole agreed, saying “We’re not going to let that happen.”

Meanwhile, the only mention of Alberta during the debates was a comment by Blanchet that we should use the income generated by the TransMountain pipeline to transition oil and gas workers into greener technologies, a position that mirrors the Liberal’s “Just Transition.”

By contrast, all the parties have extensive promises for Quebec.

The Conservatives have made their “Contract with Quebec” a centrepiece of their campaign.

In it, promises are made to Quebecers to increase Quebec’s powers over immigration, respecting the right of Quebecers to pass laws to protect its language and culture, and establishing a federalism based on partnership.

The other parties do similar – even going further in some cases.

But where are the promises to Alberta? There aren’t any.

This campaign has, once again, highlighted Alberta and the West’s lowly position in the power structure in Canada.

Alberta is nothing but a doormat for federal politicians campaigning for votes in Ontario and Quebec and every federal election is a stark reminder of our weak position.

Of the 338 seats in the House of Commons, Alberta only has 34.

Elections may change things on the margins, but unless the existing power structures of confederation are changed, nothing will change for Alberta.

Constitutional changes to the electoral system are necessary if Alberta is ever to gain any respect from federal politicians – especially those who are elected to represent us but only take our votes for granted.

While there is no need for Canada to copy the United States Senate, it is undeniable that having an equal number of senators per state has helped America keep a fairer balance between their federal and state governments.

A Canadian Senate with enhanced powers, with a mandate from the public via elections, and with equal representation from each province, will help the provinces defend against federal legislation that encroaches on their jurisdiction and the freedoms of their citizens.

A parliament that effectively represents the democratic will, while respecting provincial interests, will help instill a culture of respect for regional diversity in Ottawa, and ensure greater national unity.

In the fight for a Fair Deal, anything short of systematic changes to the electoral system designed to properly balance regional interests should be viewed as a failure.

Without them, any steps a sympathetic federal government takes to alleviate Western alienation can be undone in a single stroke of a pen by a hostile administration in Ottawa.

The 2021 election really is the election that forgot the West.

We’ll still be watching tomorrow night, though. Will you?

Josh Andrus is a Columnist for the Western Standard

Columnist

Josh Andrus is a Columnist for the Western Standard based outside of Calgary, Alberta. He is also the Executive Director of Project Confederation.

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