Fifteen years ago, in Jan. 2001, six prominent Conservative lobbyists and university professors, including future prime minister Stephen Harper and provincial cabinet minister Ted Morton, penned the Firewall Manifesto.
Prime minister Jean Chretien‘s Liberals had been re-elected to a third-term in office and the failed rebrand of the Reform Party as the ‘Canadian Alliance‘ was quickly becoming apparent.
In reaction to the re-election of the Ontario-based Liberal government, the Firewall Manifesto called for then-premier Ralph Klein to build a firewall around Alberta by taking a number of actions, including the creation of an Alberta police force, an Alberta pension plan and the reduction of funds transferred from Alberta to the federal government*. Thankfully for Albertans, Mr. Klein ignored the Manifesto.
Fast-forward to Feb. 2016 and Alberta’s economy has slowed following a sharp decline in the international price of oil. For the first time in decades, Alberta’s traditionally cash-flush government is asking for economic and financial assistance from the rest of Canada.
Liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and New Democrat Premier Rachel Notley stood in the Legislature Rotunda yesterday and explained plans to fast-track $700 million in previously committed infrastructure funds from the federal government to Alberta. Mr. Trudeau also announced changes to Employment Insurance rules to help recently unemployed Albertans.
Alberta’s current economic situation and the drive to expand oil pipelines across Canada serve as an important reminder about why building bridges is more effective than burning bridges and erecting (fire)walls between our province and the rest of the country.
Thank goodness we didn’t build that firewall.
*It is completely unclear how this actually would have been done.