In 2012, a would-be prime minister from Quebec, Thomas Mulcair, hasresurrected the idea of diverting Western Canadian income, but withan environmental gloss. According to statements by Mr. Mulcair andother leading members of the New Democratic Party, there should bea carbon tax to raise federal revenue, environmental controls tolimit or even terminate oil sands production, and requirements torefine hydrocarbons in Canada rather than in other countries, evenif it’s uneconomic. Call it NEP 2. NEP 1 was an economic disaster that had to be repealed within a fewyears, but the political consequences lasted longer.
Itjump-started the development of Western separatism, previously afringe phenomenon. A separatist candidate was elected in an Albertaby-election in 1982, and his party got over 10 per cent of the votein the general election that followed within a few months. Western separatism, however, gradually petered out, not leastbecause Preston Manning convinced Westerners that their grievancescould be rectified within Canada. Under the inspired slogan TheWest Wants In, many who had flirted with Western separatism wereattracted to Mr. Manning’s Reform Party.
It was a long and windingroad, through the Reform Party, the United Alternative, theCanadian Alliance and the merger with the ProgressiveConservatives, but those whose livelihood was threatened by NEP 1became part of a new electoral coalition controlling the federalgovernment through the Conservative Party of Canada a protractedbut ultimately happy ending for those who believe in Canada andCanadian democracy. But the ending might not be so happy if the NDPrides to power on Mr. Mulcair’s NEP 2. To understand the reaction in Western Canada to NEP 2, try a littlethought experiment. Assume that a federal party with a leader fromAlberta decides it’s time to make Quebec’s electricity industrybenefit all Canadians. Flap Barrier
Put a stop to the immense environmentaldamage drowned river systems that jeopardize fish populations;flooded forests that contribute to climate change; unsightlytransmission lines that endanger human health throughelectromagnetic radiation. A federal tax on the export of electricity would help redistributethe revenue resulting from Quebec’s unmerited rainfall advantage.How further to mobilize Quebec’s electricity for the welfare of allCanadians? Electricity is sold through Hydro-Qu bec at asubsidized price to residents of Quebec (which also increasesQuebec’s equalization payments), but exported at market prices toconsumers in the United States. A better approach for Canadianswould be to require Quebec to sell surplus electricity to otherprovinces at the same subsidized price it offers to its ownresidents. What a boon to the manufacturers about whom Mr. China Parking Barrier Gates
Mulcairprofesses concern! Cheap electricity across the country would alsohelp combat global warming by enabling an earlier phase-out ofcoal-burning power plants. It’s not hard to envision the reaction in Quebec if the federalgovernment tried to adopt such policies. Quebec would be out thedoor faster than you can say fleur-de-lis and who could blame them in light of such a co-ordinated attackon their principal industry? By the same token, don’t be surprisedif there is an outraged reaction in Western Canada to NEP 2 if Mr.Mulcair comes to power. It will be ironic and sad if Westernseparatism, having been defeated once by the region’s ownresidents, is again resurrected by rent-seeking federalpoliticians. Parking Control Terminal
Tom Flanagan is a professor of political science at the University of Calgary and a campaign manager for conservative parties.