Pierre Trudeau’s National Energy Program hurt Alberta’s economy. However, we shouldn’t forget that he also masterminded a package of constitutional reforms that decisively strengthened the authority of Western Canadian provinces to develop, regulate, tax, and sell their resources. Justin Trudeau’s father never used Alberta as shorthand for reactionary rube politics.
It was Jean Chretien who mastered the art of winning power by isolating Alberta and selling a centralist national vision tailored to serve the old pretensions and rising anxieties of the east.
His formula is deeply entrenched in his shrinking Liberal Party.
A couple of years ago, Member of Parliament Justin Trudeau flattered fellow Quebeckers by reminding them of their larger mission: civilizing Canada.
“There is a way of viewing social responsibility, openness to others, a cultural pride here in Quebec that is necessary to Canada.”
And yesterday, Kathleen Wynne, a strong, experienced candidate for the Liberal Premiership of Ontario, offered her own stolid Ontario version, a pan Canadian fair deal:
“I think that people have seen [Premier McGuinty] as a champion of Ontario,” Ms. Wynne told The Globe and Mail on Tuesday. “What I’d like to do is just expand that to Ontario championing fairness across the country.”
Whether Liberals are extolling the civilizing presence of Quebec or Ontario’s magical ideas on how Ontario, along with everyone else, can get a better share of federal government spending, Westerners can continue to worry that their money, not their brains, will be part of the solution.