The Liberal Party of Canada has a knack for inciting regional alienation and constitutional crises. Western Canadians, particularly Albertans, expect Liberal federal governments to have a disdain bordering on antipathy for people outside of the Toronto-Ottawa-Montreal “golden triangle”, and why not? A look at electoral maps since the days of Pearson shows the West consistently rejects the progressive paternal brand of politics that passes for “liberalism” in the LPC. There is simply no political upside for the Liberals to create policy that serves western Canada when they can rely on enough votes from central Canada to form government–which they do more often than not.
This is the reality of Canadian federal politics under which the West has laboured, and generally thrived in spite of a hostile Canadian political and media regime–a cabal held in check only by the Constitution (the real one from 1867) and the odd win by the federal Conservatives.
The modern roots of western alienation are often traced back to Pierre Trudeau’s National Energy Program–although, in fact, the West’s resentment could reasonably be the result of more than a century of federal government policies that compelled the region to feed the Central Canadian appetite for everything from wheat to oil to cannon fodder for military adventures while more favoured regions, particularly Quebec, were held exempt from contributing in any real way to the national experiment. These inequities continue to this day with the Orwellian Equalization Program being the best example.
The NEP was recognized in Alberta, and to a large extent in Saskatchewan and NE British Columbia for the corrupt, naked grab for power and money that it was. The oil producing regions increasing wealth posed an existential threat to the LPC’s role as the “natural governing” party of Canada. At the same time Alberta’s burgeoning economy represented a pot of money that the Liberals convinced themselves, and much of the “Rest of Canada”, was really owed to them, for all the help they’d heaped on the West in the past. While there was a degree of spite for Alberta in the NEP, it was largely a money grab by Central Canadian interests. It failed, as all national programs do, but it created a rallying point for a rising western separatism that manifested itself in the Reform-Alliance party, the destruction of the PC Party of Canada (which was at least complicit in support of the NEP) and the eventual rise of the Conservative Party under Harper.
All that is history–and most Westerners understand the realities of Canada and the motivation of the “East”. Parallels drawn between the spite of Pierre Trudeau and the hubris of his progeny are not wrong. Both Trudeaus can be described as slightly effeminate dilettantes who choose their daily wardrobes more carefully than their words or actions. All hat, no cattle as it were–which is a tough sell in the prairies where self-reliance, family, faith and honesty are accepted not just as virtues, but as what it means to be Canadian.
What is different this time, and why the growing resentment in the West for Central Canada is understated, is the attack on western Canadian values by the current Trudeau gang isn’t just economic–it’s personal. Trudeau and the LPC are punishing western Canada, not just for it’s rejection of LPC, but for the very virtues that make up the social fabric of the West. LPC policy suffers from a heavy dose of cultural Marxism which reveals itself as radical environmentalism, an obsession with the futile fight against climate change, and endless lectures on identity politics and white guilt.
People have an innate understanding of fairness and tolerance. Contributing significantly more economically to the national effort when things are going well is something most western Canadians are proud to do. When the Liberal Party of Canada, and to a large extent Conservatives outside of the West, accuse the people of the productive, stable West of being bigots, tax cheats, homophobes and White Supremacists, westerners quite rightly begin to question the utility of a continued Confederation. When the injury of a concerted effort to shut down the West’s resource industry in the name of Gaia is added to the insults hurled by Trudeau at the people who have kept Canada’s economy going for the past six decades, a growing resentment for Central Canada from the West is not only to be expected, it’s encouraged.