Alberta Needs A New Way To Fight

July 1st, 2019 | JH

Talk of Alberta separation is running hot these days. It seems as though a tipping point has been reached in which expressing support for an independent Alberta is no longer taboo. Professional politicians are still coaching their language in terms of recognizing the wave of resentment, yet always hedging to insure variations of the status quo remain. Not so for ordinary people... they are going all in on independence.

I can’t help but temper my enthusiasm with skepticism, however, since talk is cheap and Albertans have a high tolerance for their own exploitation. The rallies and campaigns and news articles thus far seem designed for an eastern audience in hopes of eliciting sympathy for Alberta. It is likely futile to bother trying this, but it never hurts.

This spring Jason Kenney won a majority government. He pays lip service to Alberta’s exploitation, but is likely to play the role of diplomat when it comes time for actual solutions. His referendum on equalization payments is dubious. Likely he’ll take a “wait and see” approach until October and, if Andrew Scheer is able to pull out a win against Trudeau, then all will be forgotten. Fundamentally, nothing will change. We’ll just wait it out until the next downturn or Liberal federal win and the cycle will continue.

This has been the cycle since forever, and it is unlikely to change. Albertans like to reflect back to Quebec’s nearly successful attempt in 1995 to separate from Canada, but they forget the foundations that led up to that attempted achievement. The foundations started much earlier and much more radically.

The FLQ started in 1963 and pushed their agenda to a conclusion in 1970 with the October Crisis. The official narrative of the FLQ is that a bunch of rowdy young commies with revolution in their hearts, started a series of low-end crimes with Quebec independence loosely attached to their actions. Eventually they overreached in their kidnapping of James Cross and murdering of Pierre Laporte. Pierre Trudeau invoked the War Measures Act and crushed the FLQ movement. Homegrown terrorism never occurred again.

The FLQ garnered mass attention and cultural change due to their outlaw actions. Their platform gained mainstream notice and respect and many of their goals were consequently met. When they overreached with kidnapping and murder, it caused a backlash, but two things happened.

1. The federal government took Quebec independence seriously and consequently obsessed about the issue for the next 30 years.

2. The Parti Québécois launched into the mainstream and official outlets for Quebec independence were contrast to the FLQ.

Modern Canada is a product of the solutions for grievances that were then expressed by the FLQ. When they kicked off their activities in 1963, this was the leaflet that they distributed…

Quebec Liberation Front have as their mission to completely destroy, by systematic sabotage:

  1. "All the symbols and colonial institutions (federal), in particular the RCMP and the armed forces.

  2. "All the information media of the colonial language (English) which holds us in contempt.

  3. "All enterprises and commercial establishments which practice discrimination against Quebec people, which do not use French as their primary language, which have signs in the colonial language (English).

  4. "All the factories that discriminate against French-speaking workers"

Look at modern Canada and, more precisely, Quebec. Have these grievances not been addressed? Have these goals not been met?

Canada is broken. It is a balkanized country, with different regions against one another. And each of those regions have different populations. In Alberta's case, our smaller relative population has had several effects.

First, it means that we do not have a voice in the outcome of federal elections. Only once has Alberta's vote even counted, and by that I mean the composition of the party and the status of that government would not have changed with or without Alberta. There is but one exception to this in the past 40 years.

It means those areas with greater population make the rules. Albertans are not masters in our own house. That is why legislation antithetical to Alberta gets passed. That is why the Reform Party becomes Easternized and eventually turned into the Conservative Party who clamors for Ontario and Quebec votes like any other political party (outside of the BQ).

This tyranny of the majority is usually prevented in civilized countries by one of two mechanisms: a bicameral legislature, where the excesses of the majority can be rejected by a House of Lords or a Senate. The second mechanism that can prevent the excesses of majoritarian rule is with a Constitution overturning legislation that is not constitutional.

Canada's Senate is not effective, because it roughly has Senators based on population. And it has been nothing but a means by which the federal government reinforces its power, as opposed to the Provinces appointing Senators to protect regional interests in a federal system.

Alberta is not protected by the Constitution, as Alberta has been looted several times, despite Alberta having sole control over her natural resources.

So if there are no political tools to fix the problem, what is the point of staying? - JEFFERSON N. GLAPSKI -

Fighting for independence is not an armchair sport... just ask George Washington. The system isn’t going to allow you to just separate and start a new country. Even if Quebec had voted to separate in 1995 (it’s debatable that they didn’t) Canada would have stymied the transition, period, anyway. It would be similar to Brexit: endless malaise and gridlock. A third referendum probably would have been demanded with much clearer language as The Clarity Act later required. The system would have prevented Quebec sovereignty.

"Fighting for independence is not an armchair sport... just ask George Washington."

The FLQ recognized that revolutionary spirit was what it was going to take in order to effect change and, when they failed, their consolation prize was a subservient, albeit intact, Canada. The rise and fall of the FLQ allowed for the mainstreaming of the separatist movement in the form of The Parti Québécois (and later Bloc Québécois) and provided more cultural power, economic extortion and political influence than ever before.

What does this mean for Alberta?

I am highly skeptical that anyone in Alberta would risk skipping a meal, let alone jeopardizing their homes or families or clean criminal records in pursuit of independence. The likelihood of revolutionary success in the 21st century is roughly zero.

What sort of lessons can we learn from the history of Quebec separatism?

When the FLQ was functioning meta-politically, they had thousands of secret sympathizers. The hardcore nature of their actions garnered a platform for their issues. After the FLQ climaxed with federal power crushing them in the October Crisis, the PQ was formed and looked professional and legitimate in contrast to the revolutionary FLQ. The federal government realized that the issues raised by the FLQ were dangerous and accepting a legitimate vehicle for these grievances meant order and stability. Quebecers could now confidently support the PQ because the new cultural context made the PQ look moderate and respectable by comparison. Without the FLQ, the PQ would have been just another fringe party with weird and angry members, basically where Alberta is right now. If Alberta had a variation of the FLQ... a non-violent, but meta-political variation, then Alberta’s mainstream leaders could take an independence position and look centrist by comparison. Right now they won’t take that position because they don’t want to look foolish and fringe. There’s no parallel power setting the context.

So what’s the point of this article?

No. I’m not advocating starting an Alberta FLQ... quite the contrary. Alberta independence isn’t worth fighting for and independence isn’t attainable unless you fight violently for it. I’m instead suggesting that people put their independence energies into more practical and self-serving vehicles so that Alberta can carve out a new identity within Canada. We aren’t revolutionaries in Alberta, but we can learn some lessons from the path carved by the FLQ and adapt some of Quebec’s outcomes for our own ends. In next month’s issue of Poletical, I will outline some ideas for Alberta separatists to put their passions into more practical and successful pursuits.

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