“Pathetic”: Laying out the focus for Bill 88’s eulogy

I must admit that wherever I’ve written columns, I’ve almost always have had “critics” who focus upon the superficial aspects of my writing, as opposed to its substance. I have no idea as to why that happens, although I suspect that the major reason that they become “offended” in this manner is due to their believing that any offering of mine is anathema to the beliefs of the party for which they normally vote.

I have one such reader here in Prince Albert, a realtor who professes not to “hate me”, but rather considers my points of view to be “pathetic” – as though that word alone provides some form of reasoned debate that might contradict the basic facts I gather in order to establish a debate position before I even try to make my point in this column. It’s not, trust me on that one fact alone.

Take, for instance, my position with respect to Pierre Poilievre, the latest in a string of Stephen Harper clones that, like Saskatchewan premier Scott Moe, say nothing, offer nothing (even though they claim to have solutions to our current problems, be they economic or otherwise) and then pile onto one person, Justin Trudeau, as though all evil befalls us from the lint he washes from his navel during his morning shower. They don’t.

Simply put, our malaise has become indelibly etched in our brains as a result of dealing with a pandemic’s disease that refuses to be conquered. Our scientists cannot obliterate it without still more research into its origin, and our politicians are still trying to ignore the social harm our seemingly “do nothing but issue mandates” approach even though former President Donald Trump almost died from the disease. 

To put it another way, we’ve stopped thinking, and all we’re now doing is yelling at one another, as though that in itself is somehow going to “solve the problem”. Again, trust me; it ain’t working – at least, not for me.

What all of society is failing to recognize is that the effects of this pandemic are also striking us at a time when our nation – every nation, actually – has to face the grim reality of our having to take ourselves off an unhealthy diet of petroleum dependency, at least if we want our grandchildren to have grandchildren themselves. Climate change is not a joke. Go ask a farmer who, following 2021’s drought, had to sell large portions of his herd or land in order to have enough money to remain operational in 2022. 

Reality also tells us that had we actually listened to Marc Lalonde when the (Pierre) Trudeau government proposed a national energy program that included transferring oil across Canada to be refined in Upper Canada (a proposal SUPPORTED by Quebec), we wouldn’t be talking about the “urgent need” for us to diverge our economies into thinking “green”. Instead, we started a “war of words”, with Alberta firing the first shot by telling eastern-most provinces that they could all “freeze in the dark”.

It was greed combined with the lobbying efforts of U.S. Big Oil interests that allowed Albertans to think in such fashion, and in the successive years our fourth reality check, namely that our environment was overreacting to ecological and environmental abuse that it is now poisoning the land to such an extent that our very food supplies are dangerously threatened. Moved by such developments, the federal government passed legislation that began focusing attention upon such happenings, only to further antagonize Albertans wanting to retain control of the identity through the literal “doubling down” upon the “need” for more radical exploration and extraction of our non-renewable resource base – ironically, basing their demands upon the nation’s “energy security needs”.

Love Canal, PG&E or even Suncor’s “naturally occurring” release this week of over 6 million liters of waste water into the Athabasca River notwithstanding, the American right and the Harper-led Conservative alliance’s stance towards ANY form of legislation designed to protect our environment is contemptuously referred to as “job-killing regulation”. 

Despite the increasing bitterness and antagonism towards any form of pipeline construction, PM Stephen Harper, once successfully ensconced as PM in a majority government following the Liberals’ “sponsorship scandal” disaster, went full bent on either amending or removing major legislation in a series of omnibus bills designed to eliminate such protest. They only made things worse. When then-President Obama spoke out against the Keystone XL pipeline, the full fury of the environmental movement was released on his government. In 2015 his government was humiliated by a Liberal Party now led by Justin Trudeau.

Seven years later, the potential environmental disasters that were first forecast in 1914 have struck with a vengeance, major climate change is occurring even as the Saskatchewan and Alberta governments deny its very existence, our food supplies are being threatened by environmental contamination and drought, particularly in California, the Prairie provinces, and southern Europe, yet somehow the Alberta and Saskatchewan governments are blaming these factors upon the federal Liberals (and Justin, of course), while still trying to justify the expansion of non-renewable oil resource extraction given new life breathing through a non-technological apparatus known as the Russian-Ukraine “war”. 

Seizing upon the alleged “powers” provided by the 1930 amendment of Section 92 in the Constitution, amateur magicians and premiers Scott Moe and Danielle Smith have subsequently “forcefully” expressed their determination to ameliorate the constitutional powers that allow the federal government to legislate issues of interest to the entire nation through two joke bills: Saskatchewan’s Bill 88, the “Saskatchewan First Act” (which I refer to as the SFA), and the “Alberta Sovereignty within a United Canada Act”.

Both legislative acts will inevitably be found to be unconstitutional, and with lawyers representing the Onion Lake First Nation last week agreeing to challenge Bill 88, it is in the sincerest of hopes that once such a ruling has stricken these two bills down, these same lawyers will finally be joined by the FSIN and the AFN legal offices in making their arguments to extend to the original determination of the federal government to amend Section 92 in 1930, under the same argument.

As this legal battle heats up, so too will the cry for separation from Canada increase in both Saskatchewan and Alberta. Individuals such as former MLA Allan Kerpan and his political associates who now actively support the Maverick (WEXIT) Party of Canada understand even less about our nation’s Constitutional obligations than they do the issues in foolishly sounding off about such a need and instead start reading the documentation that framed our initial creation as a nation. Quebec’s attempt to create such separation may have been started by know-nothings such as Kerpan, but once the vote to actually become a separate nation was taken, cooler heads promoting the idea suddenly realized that their problems in forming their nation were just beginning. Were there no Canadian government with which to bargain, they would have been forced to negotiate their existence with Quebec’s northern Cree population, as territorial integrity and ruling reverted to their leadership, leaving this new nation only “ruling” the strips of farmland along the St. Lawrence River. But then, western Canadian “conservative” voters have never understood that we’re not the United States, but rather a nation formed on higher ethical standards.