By Jim Scott
In recent weeks what passes for the ‘pillars of Confederation’ in Canada have been shaken to their foundations. A New Brunswick man’s Supreme Court challenge of our idiot booze laws has been struck down. On the ‘Left Coast’ British Columbia continues to obstruct the petroleum industry of Alberta and Saskatchewan while paying stratospheric gas prices.
Now you can be a fan of neither alcohol nor oil and still realise that when the political leaders of a country abandon any pretence of constitutionality, the people will be forced to shift for themselves. Confederation was meant to eliminate this ‘beggar-thy-neighbour’ stuff. What do we do when politicians throw the reason for having a country out the window?
It is a fact of history and geography the BC encompasses our western coast. It is also a fact in the 21st century Asia represents our best bet for future sales of oil sands products. Getting them across the Pacific is vital.
Rather than oppose BC’s qualms about oil shipments off their shores, I’m sure most Canadians sympathise with demands for best practices for pipeline construction and environmental monitoring. There are shared federal/provincial jurisdictional issues here that should have been resolved years ago. Petroleum corporations can and do accommodate a variety of such issues and only require that resolutions be reasonable and dependable. What they ask is that the adults at the political table make decisions and stick to them.
Grown-ups seem to be in short supply these days. Debate now consists of screaming matches and ad hominem insults. Facts are not just conveniently ignored but are deliberately excluded. They are replaced with hyperbole and horror stories meant to frighten flighty politicians. (Environmental group Greenpeace has admitted in open court to using these techniques as a matter of policy. Not surprising to followers of Saul Alinsky and his 1960’s radical agenda). British Columbians want their coast kept clean but ignore the existing tanker traffic carrying foreign oil now. They are willing to obstruct fellow Canadians while facilitating the trade of repressive regimes in other parts of the globe.
Our founding document, an act of British parliament, was a workable model. What was not enumerated in specific terms in the Act, (e.g. radio and TV) became residual powers to the federal government. When federal and provincial jurisdictions were in dispute, the federal statutes were to be supreme. Over 150 years disputes arose and mutually agreeable settlements were arrived at. Especially where the provinces could make out like bandits, they conspired to take over the jurisdiction. The federal government agreed to let each province run booze in the 1920’s and gambling in the 1970’s. Al Capone is spinning in his grave.
Thanks to Gerard Comeau we are now aware that the RCMP can be used to hunt down citizens who deign to look after their self-interest by trying to buy booze in cheaper jurisdictions. Mr. Comeau received a fine of $292 for carrying 14 cases of beer and 3 bottles of booze from Quebec to New Brunswick. Not sure what Mr. Comeau’s typical consumption is, but the ruling in the case endorsed each province’s ability to oppress its citizens. As a resident, you are bound like a medieval serf to the regime that distributes adult beverages in your province. As a citizen of Canada, you may buy such products of other citizens of Canada only at the sufferance of the self-appointed monitors of your booze intake.
Rather than create a nation where the national economy can prosper as a whole, we have slowly descended into a nation of petty fiefdoms where narrow interests can be abused to put the screws to other narrow interests. This is not the great project that we set out to build. If BC makes the best wines, all Canadians should be able to purchase them. If Alberta needs a route to the coast, then, like the railroad so welcomed in its day, a pipeline should be built. We still have a chance to build a prosperous Canada. It seems we’ll have to take it back from the politicians first.