On Sept 1 Premier Kenney wished Alberta a happy birthday. Not once in his video message did he mention Canada. It was as if Alberta became a province in 1905 only to float around in No Mans Land for the next 114 years.
He did, however, acknowledge Alberta’s connection to Canada in the official press release by noting Alberta became “a full and equal partner in the Dominion of Canada”, “Albertans have built a province that is the engine of Canada’s prosperity (actually it’s not the engine, it’s one of three engines, Ontario and Quebec both contribute more to Canada’s GDP than we do), and Alberta is “the best place in Canada to live, work, play and raise a family.”
Both the video and the press release repeat the message that Albertans are “people of destiny”. Given the ambiguity of the phrase (it can refer to anything from evangelical groups to pop stars) it’s important to note how Mr Kenney characterized the phrase.
Mr Kenney said a “program” entitled “A People of Destiny” was printed to mark the day Alberta became a province in 1905. He doesn’t tell us what the “program” said. He does tell us that he believes generations of Albertans have lived up to the “notion of being people of destiny, that we have created something exceptional here, a culture of enterprise, of personal responsibility and strong communities.” He asked us to remember those who helped build Alberta “while rededicating ourselves to live by the values of community enterprise and freedom in an Alberta that in the future will continue to be strong and free.”
Perhaps this is just feel good talk Alberta-style, but it’s troubling in the context of Mr Kenney’s misleading rhetoric that the feds are using the equalization formula to unfairly benefit other provinces at Alberta’s expense and his contradictory campaign promises about the purpose of a referendum—the UCP policy document says it’s to (a) remove equalization from the Constitution, and (b) use the threat of the referendum to demand changes to the equalization formula (do we want it removed from the Constitution or not?) if there isn’t substantial progress on a coastal pipeline and if Bill C-69 isn’t repealed, (so we’re okay with the equalization formula if we get Trans Mountain and Mr Scheer becomes prime minister and repeals Bill C-69?).
Mr Kenney’s sloppy language has led many Albertans to conclude that Mr Kenney will call a referendum on equalization and if the majority of Albertans say the feds should restructure the formula and the feds refuse that gives Mr Kenney the mandate to start working on Alberta’s independence.
Mr Kenney attempted to disabuse Albertans of this notion with an angry press release upbraiding Quebec Premier Legault for saying Mr Kenney was “starting to become a separatist” and reminding Albertans that it was he who insisted the UCP merger agreement include a principle of loyalty to a “united Canada” and for him “that loyalty is non-negotiable”.
But it’s too late.
His supporters firmly believe that Mr Kenney will lead them to the promised land if the federal government fails to come to heel.
And goofy happy birthday greetings telling Albertans they are “people of destiny” without acknowledging how fortunate we are to be part of a diverse and wealthy nation called Canada only add to the confusion.