Monday, November 11, 2019

History of western alienation

Two detailed contributions, both from westerners, have been added to the election-aftermath "Wexit" (or is it "Rednexit"?) discussion. I find Dale Smith's key point ("the world price of oil is the bigger problem for [Western Canada] right now than any amount of environmental regulation could ever be") much more persuasive than Jen Gerson's "Confederation is hopelessly broken."

But the western-alienation point that doesn't seem to get any detailed analysis in all these discussions is her offhand reference to Bill C-69 -- she writes "the latter dubbed the 'no more pipelines' bill for its byzantine restructuring of the country’s regulatory process."

It's not just that complaints against C-69 fail to note it was less some deliberate attack on the west than a revision made necessary by the Supreme Court's rejection of the inadequate consultation processes put in place by a previous federal government.  

More important is that "byzantine" is a euphemism for "respectful of treaty obligations." 

And that topic is going to be one of the toughest in all the discussions of western alienation. Pipelines (or other major resource projects anywhere in Canada, whether it is diamonds in the Territories, rare earths in northern Ontario, or LNQ in British Columbia) must now include genuine, substantial First Nations buy-in if they have any hope of proceeding. The First Nations are establishing themselves as co-owners of the resources. They can no long be ignored in the decision-making processes concerning those resources.

Boy, is that ever going to be unpopular as it sinks in. Maybe "byzantine"is not so much a euphemism as a way to paper over something few Canadians, west or east, are yet willing to face.

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