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As much as we like to pretend otherwise, it remains quite clear that fear is the most powerful motivator in politics by far.
The Trudeau Liberals effectively used fear in the last federal election, and—in combination with an anemic Conservative campaign and a compliant establishment media—managed to demonize Scheer enough in Ontario and Quebec to hold onto power.
And fear has been even more successful for the Quebec separatist movement.
While the separatists have not achieved their goal of making Quebec an independent country, the very real threat of Quebec leaving Canada and breaking up the country has given the province a massive amount of leverage.
Quebec has control over immigration, is able to impose “values-tests,” has industries heavily subsidized by the federal government, doesn’t have to fight for the right to export their products, receives a tremendous amount of equalization money (much of it from Alberta), and is able to pass legislation (Bill-21) that would be massively demonized if it came from any other province.
In short, by having a credible threat of breaking up the country on the table, Quebec has managed to improve their financial power and political independence dramatically.
Threatening to break up Canada is a strategy, and for Quebec, it’s a strategy that has worked.
Of course, this is all quite sad to admit, since it points to a deeper problem that Canada has. If we are at the point in which provincial nationalism is superseding federal nationalism, and if our country is now a place in which provinces feel they need to use threats to national unity to be heard by the central government, then we are already on the brink.
That said, it’s simply a reality that successful strategies get copied by others.
That how human beings learn, we look at what has worked for others, and seek to apply that to our own situation, especially when all the other options seem to have exhausted themselves.
So, for a growing number of people in Western Canada—particularly in Alberta—a look at how Quebec has used the threat of separation leads to the conclusion that utilizing those same threats in Alberta is likely to succeed (success being defined in having the province’s demands met). And it’s no surprise that with more people reaching that conclusion, support for separation, or at least the use of the threat of separation as a leverage tool, is growing.
I don’t want to see Alberta separate. And I don’t want to see Quebec separate. Canada is a beautiful nation, with perhaps more potential than any other country. But that potential is being squandered by a failing federal government, and bunch of corrupt elites who have demonized Canadian federal nationalism, and screwed over the energy industry, thus setting the stage for tribalism and provincial nationalism to surge out of control.
If Alberta’s concerns are not addressed, if Albertans are not treated with the respect they deserve and have earned, and if the federation doesn’t work for ALL Canadians, then nobody should be surprised to see more and more people look to the example of Quebec’s strategy for influence.