RED DEER – People’s Party of Canada Leader Maxime Bernier said separation threats will only leave Alberta in a negative political dynamic.
Bernier spoke in Red Deer Nov. 16 at a “Freedom Talk” conference about meeting the challenge of the Alberta separatism movement.
“Separatism in Quebec, and discontent in the West, grew fastest during the era of Pierre Trudeau, as a reaction against central government activism,” he said. “And it is no coincidence if it is once again growing under a government headed by his son, who shares his vision.”
But Bernier said Alberta shouldn’t copy Quebec’s attempts at separation in an attempt to get more power from Ottawa because that strategy only led to more unhappiness in Quebec.
You must find allies in Quebec and elsewhere if you want to bring about change at the federal level. Don’t focus on the arrogant statements made by the Bloc leader. He only represents a minority of Quebecers.”Maxime Bernier
“My recommendation is the same for Westerners,” he said. “You must find allies in Quebec and elsewhere if you want to bring about change at the federal level.
“Don’t focus on the arrogant statements made by the Bloc leader. He only represents a minority of Quebecers.”
Berneir said in 2012, only one per cent of Quebec’s oil came from Western Canada. Today, it’s 44 per cent.
“The Quebec government supports Alberta in its Supreme Court challenge against Ottawa’s carbon tax.”
Berneir added that many people in Quebec and in the Maritime provinces aren’t happy about being poor provinces that depend on equalization.
“They understand it’s a poverty trap. They would prefer policies that bring economic growth and prosperity.”
Berneir also said the rise of separatism in both Quebec and the West can be linked directly to the expansion of the federal government that intervenes in provincial affairs and favours some regions over others. He said the problem is an overlarge government that has caused distorted federalism.
He said Alberta and other provinces should push for more provincial autonomy and a less centralized federation with a smaller national government.
“There are ways for Alberta to become more autonomous in some areas, like Quebec. Alberta could have its own police force, its own revenue agency, its own pension plan. I support this.”
He added that Alberta could also have specific agreements on shared jurisdictions with Ottawa like manpower training and selection of immigrants, like Quebec.
A panel appointed by Premier Jason Kenney earlier this month will look at these proposals.
“The reason only Quebec got these special arrangements is not because of separatist blackmail,” said Bernier. “It’s because other provinces were not interested and never asked for it.
Quebec always defended its provincial autonomy. You can do the same.-Maxime Bernier
“Quebec always defended its provincial autonomy. You can do the same.”
But this won’t bring new pipelines or a reform of the equalization program, added Bernier.
“It won’t stop the federal government from intruding even more in health care, education and other provincial jurisdictions. It won’t bring about a streamlined federal government that spends less, doesn’t increase our national debt, and focuses on national problems.
“These changes need to be made at the federal level.”
Bernier lost his seat in Parliament in the October federal election. He was a former Conservative cabinet minister. He lost a leadership bid to Andrew Scheer in 2017. He formed the People’s Party of Canada in 2018, which didn’t win any seats and got less than two per cent of the national popular vote.
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