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Kyoto An Act Of Independence

Posted on Monday, September 09 at 08:50 by wolfmann

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It's important that all Canadians be made to understand what's involved. The treaty will severely damage resource production and development in Alberta, and the fundamental guarantee of Canadian confederation is that the ownership and development of natural resources fall solely under provincial jurisdiction.

This means that when a federal spokesman declares, as many have, that the oil, gas, minerals, forests, hydro potential and lands "belong to all Canadians," this is a decided misstatement of fact.

They don't "belong to all Canadians." The hydro potential of Quebec belongs to the people of Quebec. The production potential of the prairie lands of Manitoba and Saskatchewan belongs to the people of those provinces. The oil and gas in Alberta belong to the people of Alberta.

The Canadian Confederation differs here from the American. There, the ownership of natural resources falls to the federal government, not to state governments. Here it falls to the provinces, not to Ottawa.

The Americans compensated the states for this by granting a Triple-E Senate, a federal body in which each state is equally powerful regardless of size, a body with enormous control over such things as treaties and appointments to the federal courts.

The Canadian provinces got control of the resources instead. Therefore any Ottawa government that sought to override provincial control of resources would be violating an absolute principle of the contract that made Canada. It would in fact be an act of separatism conducted from the federal level.

When Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau brazenly invaded provincial territory with his national energy program, he was acting as a separatist just as surely as his great rival Rene Levesque with his Parti Quebecois. Trudeau, the supposed champion of Canadian unity, was in fact committing an act of hypocrisy and treason. The West knew this, and that's why they have decisively rejected the federal Liberal party ever since.

Now we have Trudeau's successor in Ottawa doing the same thing, in order to memorialize himself as the "champion of environmentalism." He is a man without a mandate. His integrity has been deeply shaken by the hotel affair. He has been effectively turfed out by his own caucus and party. Now he proposes a body blow to the Alberta energy industry while launching a final spending program, all this calculated as a monument to himself.

So what will Klein do? The last time he faced a do-or-die situation came when he had to cut back on provincial programs to get the province out of debt. In essence, this meant defying the weep-willy media with inevitable stories of callous and cruel neglect by his government. He did this well, then saw his the debt problem fortuitously cured by the recovery of the oil and gas industry.

But what will he do now? He'll take the Alberta case to the courts, he says. What a laugh. He knows, the courts know, Chretien knows, and most Albertans know that the Supreme Court is the stooge of the federal government. Relying on the court to save the Alberta case amounts to a total capitulation. It signals Ottawa to take what it likes, do what it likes.

But what other option has he? Just this option: If Chretien signs the treaty without Alberta, Klein can correctly take this as an act of separatism by the federal government. He can correctly say that there is now no firm constitutional basis for Alberta's role in Confederation, and that he must govern Alberta on that assumption. To so govern, he needs a new mandate and is calling a provincial election. It would be an election watched by the whole of Canada, in which the gravity of this cavalier Chretien move would become clear. If Klein were returned, which is altogether likely, that would destroy Chretien. Anything less than that will be taken as a clear Ottawa victory and a major defeat for Klein's province.

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