Balbulican

Wexit: The Moose In The Room

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moose.jpgJust in time for Halloween, the recent Liberal expulsion from the West has injected new life into Western Separatism, one of Canada’s favourite political zombies, now lurching back to life under the catchy Brexit-inspired trademark “Wexit”. Because who can’t look at the state of Brexit without saying to themselves, “Hey, what a great idea! Let’s have us one of THOSE!”

“Zombie” is probably not the best Halloween icon. “Frankenstein” works better: an ill-assorted collection of dead body parts, stitched together by political opportunists and jolted into life with an electric surge of post-electoral pique. It may twitch and foam for a bit, and it’s certainly a Scary Monster to send stalking through the corridors of Centre Block, but ultimately, Wexitstein is as viable as Mary Shelley’s creation.

The usual arguments against Western separation are being raised by the sane and ducked by the polemicists, like the sustainability of a landlocked resource exporter in an era when the US itself has become an exporter, or the unlikelihood of a population unused to provincial taxes cheerfully taking on the cost of all things federal, from passports to defense to policing to currency to exclusion from existing trade agreements. But there’s one issue that’s not being discussed, as far as I know, and I’m curious about the opinion of wiser legal and constitutional thinkers than myself in the Dawg house.

In the run-up to the last Quebec referendum, both the James Bay Cree and the Inuit of Nunavik, whose land claim agreement covers most of the land generating hydroelectric power in the Province, announced that in the event of a “Yes” vote, they would remain with Canada, and call on Canada to protect their territories and enforce the JBNQA, and their general right to self-determination. If Canada was divisible, they argued, so was a province. Neither Chretien nor Bouchard were interested in that particular constitution landmine, and as it turned out, the premise was never tested.

Twenty-five years later, First Nations across the country are immeasurably stronger, more politically sophisticated, and better organized. Many are deeply invested in resource development through impact benefits agreement or actual equity; but they are equally invested in the protection of their lands. the maintenance of environmental standards, and regulation to mitigate negative effects of rapid socioeconomic growth. And their experience suggests that both those goals can be balanced.

If confronted by a choice between (1) an ongoing relationship with a single federal government that at least in theory supports their self-determination, treaty rights and land claims agreements, or (2) a collection of provincial governments committed to eliminating any obstacles to unfettered development and dismantling of tiresome environmental, consultation, mitigation and land rights, I suspect they’ll prefer the devil they know. And a quick glance at any map showing the treaty areas of the Western Provinces - treaties the Federal Government could be called upon to help protect and enforce - raises the question; what’s actually left to separate?

And for the PPC/UCP fans in the house - YOU know who you are - seriously, what do you imagine the path around this obstacle would be? I’m genuinely curious.

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This page contains a single entry by Balbulican published on October 24, 2019 8:21 AM.

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