Byron Hackett is the Managing Editor of the Red Deer Advocate.

HACKETT: Alberta is at home in Canada

I’m bringing you this column a day early, out of necessity because I thought it was important to respond to a submission from Red Deer-South MLA Jason Stephan regarding Alberta Day.

Instead of using the opportunity to speak about everything that makes Alberta great, he uses the majority of this column to trash Canada and the Confederation that Alberta is a part of.

It’s no surprise that he blames Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for all that ails us. For every problem in Alberta, Justin Trudeau is the answer and a convenient punching bag/ punch line.

Even in the election debates this spring, Stephan played to his audience with jabs at Trudeau.

There were a number of points that need to be retorted from Stephan’s piece.

Firstly, I find it a little bit ironic that the man who can’t even show up to a swearing-in (he was on vacation) and takes a vacation during a pandemic is the first one to criticize others for their lack of commitment to governance.


Opinion: Alberta: Better Than Trudeau’s Canada

He is taking what is supposed to be a unique holiday for Albertans and turning it into a hit piece on the federal government.

It is pretty rich for someone to write an 867-word column and include the phrase virtue signalling when that’s essentially what the entire piece is. Alberta is the best and has no need for anybody else.

The phrase “fair deal” in and of itself is a virtue signal because it suggests Albertans are getting a raw deal as a part of the Confederation. Don’t we all want a fair deal?

Isn’t it disingenuous to suggest that some Albertans don’t want what’s best for the province, even if that means remaining a part of the Confederation? His piece is an exercise in moral superiority.

“Albertans need alternatives to Trudeau’s Canada; let’s prepare, insulate, and protect ourselves from this accelerating train wreck, which unabated, will crash as sure as night follows day.”

He doesn’t once suggest a federal conservative government would be better than the current government, which only leads to the insinuation that Alberta should prepare to separate from Canada.

And the majority of the article is about things Stephan hates about Canada. And to be blunt, there are a lot of problems in Canada: affordability, housing crisis, homelessness, crime. There’s very little in the way of solutions in his piece.

He of course chooses careful language and never outright suggests Alberta should separate from Canada, only that “Trudeau’s Canada” is the problem.

The only issue there is it is not Trudeau’s Canada. It is our Canada. We have two local conservative MPs who represent Central Albertans in Parliament and the Liberals have a minority government, giving plenty of power to the conservatives to vote against laws and rulings that they don’t like — which they’ve done plenty of over the past year!

And while there is plenty to rag on about “Trudeau’s Canada” the fact of the matter is Canada ranks third in quality of life, and third in best countries overall, according to U.S. and World Report, an organization that has been providing such data for 70-plus years.

That sure sounds like a good thing, doesn’t it?

The notion that Trudeau doesn’t listen to Albertans is also another dog whistle.

He bought the Trans Mountain Pipeline for over $5 billion dollars. For what? Just to own Albertans and not build it? You have to be pretty deep down the conspiracy rabbit hole to believe that.

A convenient omission from the honourable MLA in his piece.

Mr. Stephan also surely knows that equalization cannot be changed as part of the Constitution without support of two-thirds of the provinces. It’s another easy mudslinging exercise, which hangs empty without even hinting at a possible solution to the problem.

Does Alberta lose out in the equalization process? Absolutely. Should it be reviewed? Absolutely. Can one province do anything to change it? No!

On the carbon tax, this is another easy line that people like to haul out without explaining the full details.

Will the price on carbon increase by 2030, yes. However, in 2021, in Alberta, the carbon price cost $598, and the average household rebate was $953. The Parliamentary Budget Office has indicated that is subject to change down the road, but not quite the lingering disaster that it’s been touted to be.

Mr. Stephan is quite right about Canada’s GDP, which trails behind the U.S. and has dropped considerably over the last number of years. But you know what also impacts the GDP? Climate disasters, like unprecedented wildfire season this year.

The federal government warned that the costs in 2021 due to extreme weather had already reduced the GDP between $20 billion and $25 billion.

And there’s no doubt that China and Saudi Arabia are huge carbon emitters. That’s an undeniable fact. But instead of deflecting, why couldn’t Alberta try and be a global leader, which even Mr. Stephan admits is something that Alberta is already doing in the energy sector! To suggest we don’t need to play a part or try at all to reduce our carbon footprint because other countries are not doing anything is the equivalent of a child using the “he started it” argument.

And all this fails to touch on the impracticality of what Alberta would look like if it wasn’t a part of Canada.

How would we get our oil to port? Would Canada and B.C. just freely let it pass through without excessive taxation? How would we import goods? Using Canada’s national rail line? Using Canada’s federal airspace? What company would want to operate with the amount of red tape you would have to cut through, with Alberta’s sovereign authority and a federal authority?

If you like living in an Alberta with low taxes, an Alberta independent of Canada would surely be the land of excessive taxes if we had to pay for all these services that we get at a reasonable rate as part of Canada’s Confederation.

All this is to say, I love Alberta.

It has some of the most beautiful landmarks and landscapes in the world and some of the kindest people I’ve ever met.

While there may be some dissatisfaction with Alberta’s fit into Canada’s lexicon, it can’t possibly come at the price of removing us from the federal equation.

I’m a proud Canadian and proud to live in Alberta.

It’s easy to be both and Mr. Stephan can hopefully recognize that.

Byron Hackett is the Managing Editor of the Red Deer Advocate and a Regional Editor for Black Press Media.

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