Unity weighs heavy

Tory leader wor­ries for na­tion’s fu­ture un­der Trudeau

Edmonton Sun - - NEWS - Brian LIL­LEY

It’s an in­cred­i­ble thought, na­tional unity be­ing at risk once again in Canada.

Yet in 2019, it ac­tu­ally could be worse than it has been in years as the Bloc Que­be­cois rises in Que­bec and western alien­ation swells across the prairies.

“It seems to be at its worst when there is a Trudeau in the prime min­is­ter’s of­fice,” An­drew Scheer said.

The flip­pant com­ment was part of a longer an­swer on ques­tions of na­tional unity made by the Con­ser­va­tive leader dur­ing an ed­i­to­rial board meet­ing with the Toronto Sun.

His longer an­swer notes that he has thought about an is­sue that doesn’t seem to bother the cur­rent PM.

The lat­est polling in Que­bec shows the Bloc ris­ing once again.

At its height, the Bloc held 54 seats af­ter the 1993 elec­tion and the sep­a­ratist party was ac­tu­ally the of­fi­cial op­po­si­tion.

A com­bi­na­tion of Stephen Harper’s hands-off poli­cies to­ward the prov­inces and Jack Lay­ton’s Orange Wave with the NDP in 2011 had all but elim­i­nated the Bloc.

Now it’s sec­ond in polling in Que­bec and poised to win most of the seats out­side of Que­bec City and Mon­treal.

Western alien­ation mean­while has hit record highs.

Polling done by the An­gus Reid In­sti­tute ear­lier this year showed that 50% of Al­ber­tans think their prov­ince could sep­a­rate.

Across Bri­tish Columbia, Al­berta, Saskatchew­an and Man­i­toba, 35% of vot­ers said they would vote for a Western Cana­dian Party if that op­tion were avail­able — that beat ev­ery other op­tion.

A strong ma­jor­ity in those prov­inces said they don’t feel Ot­tawa treats their prov­ince fairly.

When pre­miers, such as Jason Ken­ney in Al­berta and Scott Moe in Saskatchew­an, have raised is­sues for their re­gion and warned of the ris­ing alien­ation sen­ti­ment, Trudeau’s Lib­er­als have dis­missed them as play­ing with na­tional unity.

Scheer said that deal­ing with these is­sues means lis­ten­ing to prov­inces and re­al­iz­ing a one-siz­e­fits-all so­lu­tion from the far-off na­tion’s cap­i­tal isn’t al­ways the so­lu­tion to na­tional prob­lems.

“Ev­ery prov­ince is dif­fer­ent, ev­ery prov­ince has its own chal­lenges,” Scheer said.

Often the frus­tra­tion in Western Canada stems from not enough ac­tion — not solv­ing trade prob­lems for soy, chick­peas, canola or beef — or too much ac­tion, such as Bill C-69, which has been dubbed the “no more pipe­lines” bill.

When it comes to the oil and gas sec­tor, Scheer clearly thinks Trudeau has tar­geted a vi­tal in­dus­try.

“There would be no ques­tion that we would shut down the fish­ing in­dus­try or the for­est in­dus­try in B.C. or the auto sec­tor in On­tario, man­u­fac­tur­ing in Que­bec. Ev­ery prov­ince has its re­sources and strengths,” Scheer said. De­spite Trudeau buy­ing the Trans­moun­tain pipe­line, Scheer doesn’t think he is be­hind the Cana­dian oil in­dus­try, not­ing that the pipe­line has not been built and Amer­i­can com­pany he paid $4.5 bil­lion to buy the pipe­line from is now in­vest­ing that money in the United States and else­where.

“I’ve made my choice. I know what side I’m on,” Scheer said re­gard­ing the oil in­dus­try.

When fed­eral lead­ers tried deal­ing with Que­bec sep­a­ra­tion in the 1980s and ’90s, they showed so much favour­tism that it gave rise to western alien­ation and the Re­form Party’s ral­ly­ing cry of ‘The West Wants In.’

Un­der Justin Trudeau’s watch, we now have the rise of both Que­bec and western sep­a­ratist sen­ti­ment.

If Trudeau wins on Oct. 21, we can only ex­pect things to get worse, es­pe­cially in Western Canada.

For many, es­pe­cially in On­tario, a vote for na­tional unity used to mean back­ing the Lib­er­als. Now the op­po­site is true. Of the two men that could be prime min­is­ter af­ter this elec­tion, only Scheer has what it takes to deal with na­tional unity.

For the sake of Canada, he and his party will get my vote.

STAN Be­hal/toronto SUN

Paul God­frey, left, ex­ec­u­tive chair­man of Post­media, greets An­drew Scheer af­ter the Con­ser­va­tive leader met with the Sun’s ed­i­to­rial board yes­ter­day.

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