If Martin truly respected the West...: ...the last person
he should make senior adviser would be Maurice Strong
Wednesday 16 July 2003
It's all well and good for prime-minister-in-waiting
Paul Martin to say he will respect the West once he becomes Liberal leader.
Indeed, it's refreshing, if not encouraging, that he told the Vancouver Sun in May that
"No matter what else I do as prime minister, if (western) alienation is the same ...
at the end of my term as it is now, I will not believe I have succeeded."
That almost makes it sound as if acting on the West's desire for more respect, less
meddling and an all-round better deal from Ottawa will be one of his government's highest
It's heartening, too, that, also in May, Martin pledged at a Liberal fundraising dinner
here in Edmonton that "never again (will) the Liberal party come out of Western
Canada without a substantial number, if not a majority, of seats."
This is heartening, not because I actually hope the Liberals win more Western seats in
the next federal vote -- I don't. Rather, it's just nice for a change to hear a prominent
Liberal do something other than dump on the West, and Alberta in particular, in order to
win votes somewhere else in the country.
Jean Chretien has seldom shown more than indifference to the West, and frequently has
displayed open contempt.
During the 2000 federal election, the Chretien-led Liberals blatantly misrepresented
Alberta's timid health-care reforms in their national campaign ads. Whipping up resentment
to Alberta would buy them votes in central and Atlantic Canada and stunt the Canadian
Alliance's chances there since the party is so closely associated with this province and
region. So what if the accusations weren't true?
Of course, Chretien also confessed to preferring to do business with people from
Eastern and central Canada. Albertans, he sneered, were a "different" (read:
morally inferior) breed of Canadian.
Even just this past spring, Chretien shrugged off Western concerns by saying
"regional discontent is inevitable," meaning he had no intention of wasting his
time even trying to solve western alienation.
Martin's soothing words are a giant step forward. But to say all that he has is one
thing. To actually do something about it is quite another -- particularly something that
might be unpopular in central Canada. It will take more than being in Calgary "a
lot" and wearing denim shirts to the Stampede that sport "I (heart) Alberta
Martin's first concrete steps are far from encouraging.
Last month he began speculating about holding the next election in June 2004, or
earlier. If he does that, Alberta and B.C. will not receive the four new House of Commons
seats they are owed -- two each -- as a result of their dramatic population growth in the
When Alliance leader Stephen Harper charged that this looked a lot like the old Liberal
strategy of "Screw the West, we'll take the rest," Martin promised to try to get
the Commons to move the creation of these seats ahead, to a date before the writs are
issued. But such an I'll-try promise is as meaningful as my pledges to start dieting ...
The announcement last week that Martin was courting Maurice Strong -- the first
president of Petro-Canada and the godfather of the Kyoto accord -- to be senior
environment adviser in the Prime Minister's Office is more than concrete enough to
eradicate any and all goodwill Martin's comforting words to date may have purchased.
If he wants to placate the West, the last person -- the very last -- Martin should
invite to be a senior adviser is Maurice Strong. Strong is an unreconstructed Trudeau-ite,
which may make Liberals giddy with nostalgic glee, but is unmitigated bad news for
Strong may not have been present at the birth of the National Energy Program in 1980;
but as the founding president, chairman and CEO of Petro-Can from 1976-78, he was there at
Strong enthusiastically supported Ottawa's first major intrusions into provincial
resource management, such as the elimination of deductions for provincial resource royalty
payments from federal income taxes. The Liberals and Strong euphemistically called this
"revenue sharing," because it took income that would have gone into investors'
pockets and oil companies' bank accounts in the form of tax rebates and "shared"
it with the federal government, which forcibly kept it in Ottawa.
Strong also favoured heavy federal subsidies to Petro-Can for frontier exploration.
These gave the federal oil company a competitive advantage over privately held oil
companies, with the hope the "Canadian" company would eventually control the
lion's share of new oil reserves. Eventually, private oil companies were forced by the
Liberals to sell a portion of their successful explorations to "Ottawa Oil" as
Petro-Can was often known.
To people who are suspicious of the market and have no clue of how wealth is created
(such as the majority of federal politicians of the past two generations), Strong has been
seen as a business genius, even a new breed of executive who combined social justice and
environmental concern with making a buck. Never mind that he did both mostly by milking
taxpayers or using his connections to yoke his competitors.
- - -
Friday, in his own words, I'll examine Maurice Strong's two current obsessions:
"global governance" and radical environmentalism, particularly his involvement
in the Kyoto accord.
[For that part of the series, see:
"Economic growth is not the cure; it is the disease."
Columnist, Edmonton Journal
Editorial Board Member, National Post
Index to some of Lorne Gunter's articles
On global Warming
On other issues
The following is not part of Lorne Gunter's article:
Why Canada promotes the
implementation of the Kyoto accord.
The Kyoto Accord is ostensibly intended to curb or reduce man-made global
warming. Realistically, the Kyoto accord will do no such thing.
At worst, man-made contributions through combustion of fossil fuels causes a
maximum of one third of the warming experienced in the northern hemisphere.
All or most of the warming that we have experienced since the globe climbed
out of the Little Ice Age is caused by long-term variations in the amount of
At the very least, the Kyoto accord will bring serious harm or
perhaps even ruin to the economies of the developed nations. The
collapse of the developed nations will lead us into a new dark age for
the world. Still, powerful and influential individuals have been
at work for many years to implement exactly that sort of design for the
future of humanity. (Full Story)
The White Rose
Thoughts are Free