Alberta is closing in on a $40 billion provincial debt. Our economy took the biggest hit during the oil crash, and yet we’re still sending money to Ontario and Quebec. Albertans can’t be blamed for any resentment they might feel toward Eastern Canada, especially when people like Montreal’s mayor take pride in shutting down pipelines like Energy East. If anyone thinks Albertans are angry, they’re right—but it’s not an irrational anger. We have every reason to be angry when deadbeat provinces like Ontario re-elect wasteful, big spending governments and then expect us to foot the bill.
Ontario’s debt is near $300 billion. There isn’t a chance in hell we’ll let Rachel Notley take us that far. Albertans have elected conservative governments for over 50 consecutive years before her, so when we see Ontarians and Quebeckers re-electing leftist governments, it doesn’t make any sense to us. We’ve consistently elected governments that have spent and taxed less and we’ve rarely expected anyone else to pay our bills. The bitterness that we have toward the East right now isn’t irrational or based on any kind of bigotry—we genuinely feel used and abused by bureaucrats in Ottawa and Ontario. We also fear for Ontario’s future, a province that’s fourth largest expense is servicing its ever-ballooning provincial debt. When (not if) Ontario goes bust, who’s going to end up paying for it?
While we were paying off our debts in the 1990s under Ralph Klein, Ontarians were accumulating theirs. (Ontario Premier Mike Harris cut spending but the debt barely went down.) It wasn’t until our Progressive Conservatives got trapped in a series of spending scandals that we rage-voted them out of office. Looking at Ontario, we see a long history of big spending and scandals that were never addressed by voters. Instead of kicking the Liberals out after all that Dalton McGuinty did, Ontario voters essentially re-elected the same government that rebranded itself under Wynne’s identity as a minority, LGBT woman. Now, as Albertans struggle to find work while banks foreclose on their homes, there’s a legitimate level of anger directed at Ontario and Quebec—two provinces that never bothered to clean up their acts via the electoral process, taking Alberta’s equalization payments for granted.
Albertans made a big move when they elected Notley’s NDP. As her approval ratings show, there’s a sense of buyer’s remorse in Alberta. Once 2019 comes around, history books will retell how Rachel Notley single-handedly unified conservatives and returned Alberta to its former glory days of promoting small government, liberty and fiscal/personal responsibility. When Alberta returns to true conservative principles, Notley’s election won’t be viewed so much as a mistake as it will be seen as a pivotal moment where Alberta cleansed itself of a corrupt government and started a renewal as Canada’s most prosperous province. After Rachel Notley, there won’t be much of an appetite in Alberta to return to the kind of politics that has destroyed both Ontario and Quebec.
This is what makes Alberta different from the East. While we’ve continued to learn from our mistakes, the East has stubbornly repeated theirs. This includes most of Atlantic Canada, which has suffered under high unemployment, high taxes and big spending. Despite the failures of their governments, most Eastern provinces have been too cowardly to give conservatism a try. They’ve accumulated unsustainable debts, increased spending, increased taxes, let their credit ratings sink and then expected Western provinces to bail them out. Even during our roughest times, Albertans are paying Eastern Canada’s bills.
Ask us again why we’ve had enough of your parasitic tendencies.
Albertans would have no problem sending equalization payments to Eastern Canada if Eastern Canada put some effort into cleaning up its act. Instead, we see the mayor of Montreal boasting about shutting down Energy East, a Prime Minister who sheds tears for a Canadian rockstar but carries on with dry eyes when addressing Alberta’s economic woes, and a series of Liberal governments in Atlantic Canada that shut down their own economic potential in the energy industry. And let’s not forget the time Justin Trudeau forgot to mention Alberta in a Canada Day speech.
If Alberta were a person, he/she would be angry as hell.
It looks like Ontario is angry at Kathleen Wynne, but they were angry at the Liberals in 2014 and then they gave them another majority—so what are we to expect? Patrick Brown is far from an ideal conservative replacement, but if Ontario doesn’t fix itself, expect Alberta and Saskatchewan to become more hostile. If Quebec keeps demonizing our oil industry while enjoying their furnaces in January, expect the West to become more enraged. If Justin Trudeau continues to pander to the East and shrug off Alberta’s hardships, expect the Wild Rose Country to retaliate.
It might be time for Canada to experience a new kind of separatist movement. If Alberta isn’t able to shake off this Liberal disease in 2019 with enough federal seats to wield power in Ottawa, the fractures might get so deep and wide that Quebec’s 1995 separatist vote will look like amateur night. If Eastern Canada wants to keep testing Alberta, we’re more than happy to fight back. A glance at social media, a conversation at a pub and a chat over a neighbour’s fence is all it takes to get an idea of the general sentiment here in Alberta right now. We aren’t happy and we’ve had a suitcase packed since 2015.
Just say when, Canada.