LILLEY: Trudeau ignores Alberta’s concerns but placates Quebec – Toronto Sun

Author of the article:

Brian Lilley

Publishing date:

Oct 31, 2021  •  6 hours ago  •  3 minute read  •  37 Comments

Justin Trudeau speaks to supporters at Liberal Party headquarters in Montreal on election night. PHOTO BY JOHN MAHONEY /Montreal Gazette
Justin Trudeau speaks to supporters at Liberal Party headquarters in Montreal on election night. PHOTO BY JOHN MAHONEY /Montreal Gazette

I was asked last week by an Alberta friend whether the Trudeau government would take the results of the province’s equalization vote seriously.

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Before we even knew the final results, I knew the answer: of course not, it’s Alberta and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau simply doesn’t care.

In fact, I said, the Trudeau Liberals will be more concerned about appeasing Quebec over the Elections Canada recommendation that the province drop from 78 to 77 seats in the next election than they would be with Alberta’s concerns about equalization payments to that province.

When asked, Trudeau predictably took a shot at Premier Jason Kenney.

“He himself contributed and approved of the current equalization formula that he’s now stirring up sentiment against a few years later. I find that the kind of politics that is not necessarily helpful,” Trudeau said last week.

It’s a nice talking point that Trudeau, his ministers, and an army of followers online like to use, but the changes that Kenney was a part of were made more than a decade ago.

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Since 2007 — when changes were first proposed by the Harper government — Alberta has experienced multiple economic shocks, including a collapse in the price of oil and orchestrated campaigns to stop the export of its valuable natural resources.

All the while, Albertans have paid billions more in taxes than they’ve received in federal services.

Quebec on the other hand has received between $10 billion and $13 billion per year in equalization payments while being the biggest political impediment within Canada to Alberta getting its oil and gas to market.

Quebec exercised an effective veto over the Energy East pipeline. Despite the federal government possessing clear jurisdiction over the approval of interprovincial pipelines, the Trudeau government allowed Quebec to decide.

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The province has also continued to elect politicians who oppose the development of Alberta’s natural resources and are not against whipping up anti-Alberta sentiment for political gain in Quebec. Beyond Trudeau, his new environment minister, Steven Guilbeault, is a prime example.

Guilbeault had several mentions in the Allan Report into activities targeting Alberta’s oil sector. In addition to working for Greenpeace for years, he also sat on the steering committee of the Tar Sands Solutions Network, which sought to shut down Alberta’s oil industry.

This is the man who now sets environmental policy for the federal government.

So, let’s get back to the issue of equalization. Does anyone think that this Liberal government will care what Alberta has to say about equalization?

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Given that the Liberals have shown they don’t care for the province, its citizens, or its economic well-being, I think the answer is clear.

Edmonton Journal columnist David Staples wrote last week that “the most dangerous thing for the rest of Canada would be to downplay and ignore this referendum result.” Yet, that is exactly what we can expect the Trudeau government to do.

I agree with Staples’ assertion that this is a dangerous move, but neither Trudeau, nor those around him, have given any indication that they will take this seriously. If this were a complaint by Quebec, he would sound much different, like he did when asked about the change in the number of seats in the House of Commons.

“I have clearly heard concerns from a number of people, including Quebecers, about what Elections Canada has proposed,” Trudeau said.

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He added there would be plenty of time to hear from everyone — to listen and debate — before any changes were made. Those comments were made immediately before Trudeau was asked about Alberta’s equalization vote.

In contrast to his conciliatory words towards Quebec’s concerns, Trudeau was abrasive and dismissive when dealing with the development in Alberta. National unity for Trudeau only means looking out for Quebec; like his father, Trudeau’s actions show he believes “screw the west, we’ll take the rest.”

Trudeau doesn’t lead a national government; he leads a Central Canadian government that rules over Western Canada.

That is dangerous for our future.

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