Saturday, August 27, 2005
Alberta: In The Eye Of The (Political) Hurricane
There are more ominous rumblings today about the future of Alberta's natural resources and who has the right to decide what to do with them. It would be easy enough to get bogged down in a rant about who's right and who's wrong, but rather than get caught up on the tactics, we should be trying to discern the underlying game plan that's at play here.
The most important question to be answered is why are all these signs appearing this week rather than last month or next month? Earlier in the week, Prof. Leo-Paul Lauzon of the Université du Quebéc à Montréal professed that he didn't "give a damn about what Albertans think". At the same time, the premier of Ontario confessed, in effect, that no amount of bribing and handouts by the federal government in the form of day care grants, etc. would ever be enough to prevent the woefully mismanaged province of Ontario from sliding into debt and ruin and despair within the next five years!. This amazing prophecy is all the more remarkable since there has been no hint whatsoever of such a tragic end during the approximately 100 years that Ontario has been the economic dynamo of the entire country.
So, I don't think it's a stretch to conclude that this is scripted bullshit - similar in style to the "voluntary" admissions of guilt the Iranian hostages were forced to read years ago, in order to stay alive and put pressure on world governments. Typical terrorist tactics actually - and we all know how successful they can be for the terrorists.... unfortunately, Paul Martin's government seems to have come to a similar conclusion.
Hard on the heels of McGuinty's acknowledgment of his own abject failure as Premier of Ontario (which will be quickly forgotten once Martin pays him off for playing his part), and in the absence of any explanation as to how it could be possible that he (McGuinty) had absolutely no warning of his province's imminent demise, we then have our esteemed Prime Minister pronouncing himself equally concerned about the future of Ontario and feeling compelled to do whatever he can to get them more money (cue for all eyes to focus on the selfish bastards in Alberta). What a manipulative hypocrite. But God forbid anyone should ask difficult questions about the billions of surplus dollars that the Federal government continues to accumulate from the GST - the abolishment of which was the election plank which got them elected in the early 90s.)
As if that weren't enough, today's National Post is running Klein must share: expert by a "leading constitutional expert". He may well have the credentials to be presented as a constitutional expert (hopefully more substantial than the credentials required of a Governor-General). But what he really is, is a go-to guy for Paul Martin. Although Mr.Courchene's points are generally well taken and seem worthy of reasoned discussion, we find the inevitable hot button near the end of the story: "This is the beginning of a 'let those eastern bastards freeze in hell' type of scenario. I guess someone has to say it", he said.
Well actually, he knew damned well he didn't have to say it and shouldn't have said it - if he really intended his comments to be constructive rather than inflammatory. (And while we're at it, Mr. Courchene, your selective memory overlooked the more recently acknowledged oil and gas potential of Newfoundland and Nova Scotia, not to mention the hydro-electric potential of Quebec.) Can we agree right now on whether or not this was just a mischievous slip of the tongue - or something much more purposeful and ominous? After all, this was not a man in the street being interviewed but rather an acknowledged "expert on constitutional matters".
Is it reasonable to think that such singularly antagonistic comments by all these otherwise very experienced individuals are intended to set the stage for a reasoned discussion with the people who are the object of their insinuations and insults? Or are they intentionally designed and orchestrated to strike a chord with every voter and MSM flunky east of Manitoba? Imo, the concept of mutual respect is shown yet again to be irrelevant to the followers of the "We're only thinking of Canada" sect. What we're actually witnessing is a magnificent example of how to "work the audience" - the audience being every "Canadian" outside of Alberta.
Another small but not insignificant detail: the Liberals have almost totally ignored Stephen Harper this summer. At first it seems surprising after the never-ending series of savage attacks that Harper was subjected to while the House of Commons was sitting. The simple truth must be therefore, that the Liberal strategy has changed and at this point there are more important fish to fry.
Yet another piece of the puzzle: Mr. Martin has failed miserably in getting the Bush administration to listen to him about anything, but especially trade issues such as softwood lumber, beef exports, border security and its impact on our economy, etc. This total disinterest on the part of the Americans has led the Liberals to start musing about a trade war.
What in all of this causes the Liberals to be sounding excited and enthusiastic about going to the polls sooner rather than later and coming back with a majority government? What a phenominal change in outlook in only six months! - from beaten dogs with their tails between their legs - to crowing cocks who intend to win the next election by winning Alberta! But what has actually gone right for them during these past six months to justify such a change in attitude? Absolutely nothing that I can see. But the answer is simple: they must have a plan.
At the height of the furor over the testimony at the Gomery Inquiry, and before I started this blog, I posted to Captain's Quarters that we should not presume the Liberals to be down and out. (At that point, the general consensus in the blogosphere at least, was that it would be a matter of weeks if not days, before an election would be called). I wrote that in spite of the appearance of defeat, their actions suggested they had a viable plan and expected it to succeed. As we all now know, Paul Martin succeeded, with the help of several key players, in accomplishing the apparently impossible - therefore to underestimate him now would be just plain foolhardy.
So, we have the following scenario: a Liberal government which appears to be re-energizing just like hurricane Katrina in the Gulf of Mexico, Ontario voters who have been told that they are all going to hell in a handcart before they can retire and before their children finish school, a Governor-General who assuredly knows everybody in the artsy-fartsy, socio-academic world which has always been the real driving force behind Quebec separatism, (and for good measure, the new GG just happens to be a woman and member of the largest non-white French-speaking minority in Quebec), George Bush who the Ontario voters love to hate, Ralph Klein who the Ontario voters love to hate, voters in the Maritimes who will be opening offshore resources presents for years to come, a threatened trade war with our largest trading partner, and the Alberta oil sands. And now enter stage left, Dick Cheney upon whom Ralph Klein's political epitaph may depend. But there's Paul Martin, miffed at being upstaged and determined to finish Ralph off, for once and for all, any way he can. And what better way than by trying to convince Albertans that it was Ralph's fault we got screwed?
It seems likely that the climax of this political tussle will occur very shortly after Mr. Cheney goes home. Which not coincidentally is just about when Parliament reconvenes along with the attendant MSM focus - ever a consideration for the Liberals.
All of which answers my original question: Why attack Alberta now? Now because the stage needs to be set prior to Cheney's arrival, if only to ensure that Klein is prevented from concluding any kind of memorandum of intent directly with the US before Ottawa can successfully gain control of the situation which would be far easier with a majority government.
Of course this drawing and quartering of Alberta will be continued on the fine stage that our House of Commons has become - leading ultimately to the next election, by which time the passions of the voters of the ROC will have been suitably inflamed.
In a nutshell we're it folks. We're about to be fried by every Canadian east of Manitoba. We'll be the reason that the Gomery Report is irrelevent. We'll become the ultimate bargaining chip with the U.S.
Did you really believe for an instant the bullshit that Paul Martin is going to depend on Alberta voters to get a majority government? Wow! Somebody's been smoking something! What an absolutely ridiculous thing for anyone to suggest. But I suppose there must be a reason for that too - I just can't imagine for the life of me what the point could be. Doubtless, it'll become clear in time.
And what part will the opposition play in this "Salvation of Canada"? Why the same parts they played in the budget debate of course: Stephen Harper will be the redneck religious bastard with a hidden agenda, Jack Layton will be the saviour of Ontario, Gilles Duceppe will be given a nice, big plateful of prime rib tax dollars to prove to Quebecers that Federalism works and Paul Martin will end up with a majority government and even more absolute power than he has today. In short, why change a winning formula?
And if, for any reason, this Machiavellian strategy falters at any time, we already can guess what some of the "divide and conquer" distractions will be: the Governor-General, surveillance of the Internet to guard against terrorism, maybe even a show-the-flag tussle with Denmark as the foil, perhaps even the Gomery Report itself.
We also know, or should know by now, that Paul Martin is a control freak and not afraid to gamble the future of Canada for short-term political gain. Now that he's had a bit of practice at it, God help Alberta.