ISU: Western Alienation. Jamey Allison Politics Mr. Watson. What is Western Alienation?.
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Western Alienation is a phenomenon unique to Canadian politics. It is rooted in the belief that Canadian politics does not serve interests in the Western Provinces such as Alberta, Manitoba, British Columbia and Saskatchewan.
The Westerners complain that the Canadian politics devotes more time and resources on the central provinces such as Ontario and Quebec because they have a higher population rate and therefore greater representation in the Senate and House of Commons.
The history of Western Alienation dates back to the Confederation of Canada in 1867.
In the 1870s, Conservative Party Prime Minister John Macdonald implemented a new national policy on imported manufactured goods. This was partially in response to the high tariffs that were in place in the United States. Western provinces argued that the tariffs favored the central provinces while Western farmers had to compete with international markets for grain prices.
The 1947, Alberta’s discovery of oil was a big bonus for their economy and made Alberta the wealthiest province by far. But it also led to discord between the province and the Canadian federal government.
While Alberta was celebrating the wealth of their province, the other provinces, mainly the eastern provinces, did not find it fair that Alberta was not sharing their oil money as a country.
But it wasn’t until the 1980s when Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau implemented the National Energy Program and sought to use the oil profits to stabilize oil prices nationwide.
The National Energy Program (NEP) was introduced on 28 October 1980 as part of the first Liberal budget after the 1980 election.
the NEP was anattempt by the federal government to achieve 3 objectives: energy security; A redistribution of wealth towards the federal government and consumers; and a greater Canadian ownership of the oil industry.
Energy Security: In order to keep Albertans oil in Canada they put export controls on all the oil companies. This would decrease the Canadian price of oil. As a result, the oil companies did not want to invest in Canada, so they drilled less.
A redistribution of wealth towards the federal gov’t: Western governments did not want to share oil royalties with the rest of the country, but the federal government wanted to. This sparked a huge conflict with Alberta and the federal government.
Greater Canadian ownership of oil company: The federal government tried to run a bunch of oil companies and create petro-Canada, but they failed as the government couldn’t keep up with the finance and lost money. So the private companies took them over again.
Many people in the West thought that the NEP was a complete failure and caused a lot of damage to this day. But many people appreciated him trying NEP. Do you think that Trudeau did the right thing in attempting the NEP or do you think it was a complete waste of time?
Right now we elect our Senators through Patronage. The west wants to change that by using the triple E because the majority of Senators are from central Canada. Therefore the West will just as equal as central Canada when it come to the Senate.
Economic equalization is another factor involved in Western Alienation, particularly in Alberta.
Equalization programs involve government allocation of federal funds into poorer provinces while wealthy citizens pay higher equalization payments. The purpose of the equalization payments was to promote national unity by ensuring that the provinces have comparable standards of living, health care and education.
But these policies have been a source of discontent in Alberta, as the province gives an average of $1.1 billion per year in equalization payments. Since wealthy Alberta receives less funding from the federal government, the province is forced to impose higher local taxes to collect revenue.
Do you feel that Albertans should be discontent with the economic equalization in Canada? Do you feel that Alberta should deserve same taxes, or that they should share more of their wealth with Canada?