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Jay Currie

One Damn Thing After Another









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5/13/2005

Blocing the CPC

Assuming for the moment that Broadbent's willingness to be a gentleman (in the true sense of that term) pretty much ensures that the goverment will fall on my birthday...What of the election?

At this point a CPC rout is unlikely. They are not going to win seats in Quebec, they are going to be even in the Maritimes, they should pick up some seats in Ontario, a few on the Praries and a couple in BC. My bet is 130-140. Which means they will be reliant on the Bloc to govern.

I think this is a mixed blessing. On the upside the Bloc will simply laugh at them if they attempt to roll back SSM. On the downside the Bloc will not countance the necessary rapproachment with our American friends.

But the Bloc is going to demand, and get, a fundamental restructuring of Canada. They'll get it because the Western wing of the CPC will be happy to give it to them provided that the same deal is offered to the rest of Canada.

The beauty of this is that the legacy of Trudeau and the pygmies who walked in his footsteps, the very idea that Canda needs or wants a "strong central government" is off to the ashcan of history. Remember that Harper was one of the Albertans who thought a firewall was a good idea. A firewall against what?

Here are the bullet points:

* Withdraw from the Canada Pension Plan to create an Alberta Pension Plan offering the same benefits at lower cost while giving Alberta control over the investment fund. Pensions are a provincial responsibility under section 94A of the Constitution Act. 1867; and the legislation setting up the Canada Pension Plan permits a province to run its own plan, as Quebec has done from the beginning. If Quebec can do it, why not Alberta?

* Collect our own revenue from personal income tax, as we already do for corporate income tax. Now that your government has made the historic innovation of the single-rate personal income tax, there is no reason to have Ottawa collect our revenue. Any incremental cost of collecting our own personal income tax would be far outweighed by the policy flexibility that Alberta would gain, as Quebec’s experience has shown.

* Start preparing now to let the contract with the RCMP run out in 2012 and create an Alberta Provincial Police Force. Alberta is a major province. Like the other major provinces of Ontario and Quebec, we should have our own provincial police force. We have no doubt that Alberta can run a more efficient and effective police force than Ottawa can – one that will not be misused as a laboratory for experiments in social engineering.

* Resume provincial responsibility for health-care policy. If Ottawa objects to provincial policy, fight in the courts. If we lose, we can afford the financial penalties that Ottawa may try to impose under the Canada Health Act. Albertans deserve better than the long waiting periods and technological backwardness that are rapidly coming to characterize Canadian medicine. Alberta should also argue that each province should raise its own revenue for health care – i.e., replace Canada Health and Social Transfer cash with tax points as Quebec has argued for many years. Poorer provinces would continue to rely on Equalization to ensure they have adequate revenues.

* Use section 88 of the Supreme Court’s decision in the Quebec Secession Reference to force Senate reform back onto the national agenda. Our reading of that decision is that the federal government and other provinces must seriously consider a proposal for constitutional reform endorsed by “a clear majority on a clear question” in a provincial referendum. You acted decisively once before to hold a senatorial election. Now is the time to drive the issue further.
There is not a single point here that the Bloc would object to. Nor would most Western Canadians.

To govern, the CPC is going to have to reach an accomodation with the Bloc. The "firewall" letter may provide the basis for such an accomodation.

It will mean a radically different, and I believe better, Canada. It may even mean a Canada in which Quebec will feel at home. Or not...Up to them.