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Cuthand: Western separation not sustainable

Columnist Doug Cuthand

Liam Richards / Saskatoon StarPhoenix

The idea of western separation is laughable, and no doubt driven by people who see their problems in splendid isolation.

So anyway, election eve was actually 4 a.m. for me as I sat in my room in Athens, Greece staring at my iPhone. The results were about as anticlimactic as I expected. A Liberal minority.

I got on with my holiday exploring the cradle of democracy, ignoring whatever fallout there was at home. Meanwhile the sore losers and western separatists were holding forth, bemoaning their lack of freedom and their desire to go it alone.

Now if you’re white and well off in Canada, you benefit from one of the best countries on earth. Canada has one of the world’s highest standards of living and best social safety net. In the United States, for example, the No. 1 cause of personal bankruptcy is health costs.

All over the world people look upon Canadians with envy — take it from someone who has done a lot of travelling.

The idea of western separation is laughable, and no doubt driven by people who have never been anywhere else and see their problems in splendid isolation.

Premier Scott Moe displayed his arrogance and lack of experience by demanding Prime Minister Justin Trudeau demanding that he drop the carbon tax, renegotiate an equalization formula, and get our products to market, in other words build a pipeline. Moe rules over a province with the population of Mississauga and no representation on the Liberal benches. It takes a certain kind of gall to demand the prime minister drop everything and cave to his demands.

As far as dropping the carbon tax, 65 per cent of Canadian voters supported a party that was in favour of a carbon tax, so that’s out. Next, he wants to renegotiate the equalization formula. He only has to look to his buddy Jason Kenny in Alberta, who was part of the Harper government that created the equalization formula we live with today. And as far as getting our products to market, we could bring back the wheat board. The federal government even bought a pipeline, but apparently that’s not good enough.

Now Moe has sent a letter saying much the same thing. (I really mean it this time, I’m not kidding.)

Kenny and Moe remind me of the two cartoon dogs, Spike and Chester. Remember them? Spike was a mean bulldog and Chester was his little sidekick who pranced around saying that Spike was his hero because he was so big and strong … I’ll leave it to you to determine which one is which.

It’s time both premiers got real and faced the fact that the economy is changing and the demand for oil is peaking. The United States is now energy self-sufficient and within a decade about half the new vehicles sold will be electric. Dirty oil, like the tarsands, will go the way of coal mines. These commodities are expensive to extract and refine and not economically viable in a world with declining demand.

Economics trump politics and there is little or nothing politicians can do about it. Huge tax cuts are just more money in corporate pockets, and they will take it with them as they head south to more lucrative prospects.

Instead of whining and blaming perceived enemies, the two premiers must quit fanning the flames of separation and look at how to modernize the economy including high-tech, renewable energy and cultural industries.

Another thing the western separatists forget is that the land for Alberta and Saskatchewan was obtained by Canada through treaty with the First Nations. Our leaders made a treaty to share the land and build a future together. Of course, the equality and cooperation didn’t happen, but we’re still working on it.

At no time did our elders envision a future without the treaty and the protection of the Crown. Also, there is no groundswell of support for separation within the Indigenous community. Through Treaty we chose Canada.

When Quebec was going through its separation anxiety, my friend Billy Two Rivers from the Kahnawake Mohawk Nation commented that the only land the separatists could take with them was the dirt under their fingernails.

I agree. If the separatists want to leave Western Canada, go ahead, but the land remains with us.

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