The Conservative Party of Canada will likely have an opportunity to regain power in a year or two. How does that happen while Alberta, the keystone of Canadian conservatism, is making a bunker of itself?
Red Deer lies halfway between Edmonton and Calgary, roughly 150 kilometres from each, and despite snow and ice warnings in both directions, a couple of hundred people from all over Alberta turned up early at a hotel conference room last Saturday to address the big question: How should the province respond to a disappointing outcome in last month’s federal election?
This was a different gathering than the feral, amateurish Wexit rally at the Boot Scootin’ Boogie Dancehall in Edmonton on Nov. 2, the one with the Make Alberta Great Again hats and chants of “The West Wants Out!” The Red Deer crowd was composed of seasoned political operatives, the sort of people who run local campaigns and sit on boards of riding associations.
Their hosts were the Manning Centre and its founder, one-time Reform Party leader Preston Manning. The keynote speaker was Alberta Premier Jason Kenney.
Despite their relative savvy and experience, the Red Deer people, too, were vexed and emotive. They showered applause on Financial Post columnist Diane Francis, who took the stage to expand on her thesis that federalism allows “smug and powerful” Laurentian elites to “economically strangle and disenfranchise” Alberta.
The solution, she said, to general enthusiasm, is for Alberta to adopt Quebec’s playbook and threaten separatism. The result would either be a reworked federal deal or an independent Alberta. Another speaker, Danielle Smith, former leader of the provincial Wildrose Party and now a popular Calgary talk-radio host, spends her days chatting on air to an outraged populace about a whole range of options.
For the rest of this column: https://www.theglobeandmail.com/opinion/article-if-alberta-retreats-behind-a-firewall-the-province-risks-getting/