Separatism and Provincial Rights

Surrey, B.C. - Thursday, August 29, 2002 - by: Phyllis H. Hubeli
Editor's note: A week ago, August 20, 2002 Mr. Watkins pointed out that Stephen Harper and his top advisor, Professor Tom Flanagan had established themselves as Albertan separatists through material they had published and written. The following day Phyllis Hubeli disagreed with this position. Mr. Watkins reply to her position on Tuesday and this is Ms. Hubeli's response.



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Mr. Watkins, Stephen Harper was stating facts, not making "veiled threats" of a separatist agenda. Western Independence movements are organizing in BC, AB and SK. There is a WIP BC riding association in my constituency. They intend to run candidates in provincial elections with the intention of forming government and removing the provinces from Canada. Harper was correct when he said
"Separation will become a real issue the day the federal government decides to make it one."
If Liberals continue to ignore the West they will make it one.




Western provinces, strengthening their position within confederation, as Quebec has, do not detract from the power of the federal government to govern in those areas of jurisdiction that are their own. Stronger provinces would be able to serve their own citizens better because they can diffuse problems before they get out of hand. Problems which Ottawa would ignore. Provinces can act speedily in time of crisis. The only time the federal government moves swiftly is of there is a crisis in Ontario, Quebec or in some riding where doing so might result in keeping a Liberal seat or winning one. Thus, the provinces having the jurisdiction to handle these problems, would mitigate, not increase, the threat of separatism. The federal government has not fallen apart because Quebec looks after its own people, nor will it fall apart if Western provinces look after theirs. With clearly defined areas of jurisdictions Canada will be better governed.




You mention Harper's speech about the Maritimes. It is passing strange, as they say in the Maritimes, that Scott Brison spoke at the Tory convention saying basically what Harper, and Manning before him, have said. Brison won applause while Harper was and still is vilified for it. Harper and Brison are basically advocating the same things to make the Maritimes self-sustaining. Common sense would dictate that you can't continue to vilify Harper on this point unless you are willing to include Scott Brison. I don't think you, as a Tory, are willing to do that.




You allege that Harper advocates pulling out of Canada Pension Plan and the Canadian Health Act, or would use Alberta's oil economy as a lever. Common sense would dictate that jurisdiction for these services should be granted to the provinces.


Health care is primarily the provinces' responsibility, not the federal government's. The federal government has mismanaged health care abysmally and removed funds from health care to help pay down the deficit rather than cut the waste and fat out of government. Because of this, health care in Canada is now in chaos.


As for Canada Pension Plan, as we all know, until recently there has been no separate Canada Pension Plan fund. All payments from employers and employees went into general revenue and all Canada Pension Plan benefits were paid out of general revenue. The Liberals looked at Quebec for a solution to the Canada Pension Plan problem as they have been investing their equivalent of Canada Pension Plan successfully for years. Now their fund is worth more than $140 billion. The Liberals created another bureaucracy, this one was to invest our Canada Pension Plan funds. Unfortunately, it has lost hundreds of millions of the money given to it. Could the provinces do any worse?


Mr. Watkins, if the Alliance is an Albertacentric party, as you claim, why would more than 220,000 people right across Canada be holding memberships today? The Alliance, in the 2000 election got more votes in Ontario alone than your Tories got clear across Canada. Contrary to the myth, the Alliance is a national party with members from coast to coast to coast. Do you think this would be the case if your claim was correct?


Phyllis H. Hubeli