Where does it go?

“Equalization Payments”…is there a pair of words that stick more in the craw of independence-minded British Columbians?

The only thing that infuriates more is the complexity of equalization payments and the formula used to determine them. Now, I’m not an expert by any means but I have read enough to know a bit about it, certainly enough to be angry with it, and even angrier that it can’t be stopped easily.

Pierre Elliot Trudeau, the man Westerners love to hate, entrenched the equalization system into the Canadian Constitution. It was meant (according to Liberals) to make the standard of living and services available to all Canadians equal whether in BC, Alberta, Ontario or Nova Scotia.  But in practice, like everything Trudeau did, it was designed to enrich the traditional voter base of Quebec. And like the National Energy Program it did so at the expense of the West.

Being in the Constitution, it requires a constitutional amendment to change or stop, meaning the change needs to be approved by, 1) the federal Parliament, 2) the Senate, and 3) a minimum number of provincial legislatures. There must be at least seven provinces that approve the change, representing at least 50% of Canada’s population.


I wonder what are the chances of that happening? Let’s see, Ontario and Quebec have 62.1% of the Canadian population, Quebec (24) and Ontario (24) have more Senators than the whole West (24 combined)…well, you see what I mean…

So where do these equalization payments come from and how do they get redistributed to the various “have not” provinces? This is where it becomes akin to voodoo magic for the average British Columbian, so break out your dolls and pins.

According to the Mowat Centre, Federal transfers are determined by a formula based on federal legislation. This money is often referred to as Transfer Payments and help guarantee “reasonably comparable levels” of health care, education, and welfare in all the provinces. Note that the Territories are not included, they get separate funding.

The cash comes from provincial taxation per capita and goes into the Canadian Federal Government coffers. The money the provinces receive back in Transfers, Canada Social Transfer and Canada Health Transfer, can be spent anything the receiving government desires, accountability for the stated “reasonably comparable” purposes is loose, to say the least. This is probably why Quebec’s undergraduate tuition rates were just $2,519 this past year. That was: 38 percent of what an Ontario student paid ($6,640); 44 percent of the cost to a student in Alberta ($5,662); 45 percent of what a Saskatchewan student paid ($5,601); and 52 percent of what a B.C. student shelled out ($4,852). (Ref. Fraser Institute)

On physician ratios, in 2010, British Columbia and Alberta had 213 and 211 general physicians respectively per 100,000 people; the numbers for Ontario and Saskatchewan were 189 and 169. Meanwhile, the Quebec ratio was 224 general physicians per 100,000 people. (Ref. Fraser Institute)

There are in fact areas, particularly in Social Transfers, where BC does benefit. However the question we are always asking from our perspective as secessionists is: How would BC, the West, do without federal equalization transfers?

Those who enjoy the commuter’s “Colwood Crawl” in Victoria, might have an opinion on this. The insanely slow traffic has been a sore spot for people in Greater Victoria for years and years. And for just as long, experts in the levels of government have studied the issue and finally decided to create an overpass system to reduce traffic and anger over the lengthy project. The cost of this project is some 85 million dollars, funded by the federal ($32.6 million) and provincial ($52.4 million) governments. Remember that part of equalization is infrastructure funding based on need and merit and that the amount BC sends to Ottawa is more than it receives. Perhaps the project could’ve been done earlier if BC were part of an independent West free to fund its own projects? Food for thought.

I encourage readers to discuss these subjects and more with their fellow Westerners, a small flame must have a bit of wind to grow to a fire. Watch for more on this site in the future, feel free to comment and add your expertise to future entries.

Dr. John Sebastian Helmcken

Everyone in Victoria and, for that matter Vancouver Island, has heard of Helmcken Road in Victoria. As one travels along the Trans-Canada coming or going, one passes the highway sign announcing the turn off to Helmcken. But what, or rather who, was Helmcken?

John Sebastian Helmcken was a well-known physician who played a prominent role in bringing British Columbia into Confederation. Our own “father of Confederation”. And that’s it, as we are told. But why is he important to us as BC separatists?

Against his better judgment, Helmcken was bribed, pure and simple. In what was sure to be the first of many not-so-nice exploitations of the west, he helped bring BC into Confederation because of the promise of a railroad linking eastern Canada to the West, bringing prosperity to all, but most of all eastern Canada.

BC joining Confederation was a political decision; in fact, the people of BC were quite happy on their own. Backroom agreements between the Government of Canada, the railroads, and the hierarchy of the Colony of British Columbia were not put to the people of BC. Of this, Helmcken said,

“All we have to do is to agree to a series of Resolutions. It is not pretended that it is the voice of the people or the voice of this Council. It is well understood that it is a Government measure. And we all know what that means — it means that this series of Resolutions is to be passed — And we have it from the Governor that he desires to send these Resolutions to Canada; they will not go, they are not intended to go, as the opinion of the people.”

And so British Columbia surrendered its sovereignty. We now have minimal control of our future; our decisions are made for us from eastern Canada over 4 thousand kilometres away. We are taxed without adequate representation, 6 Senators to Quebec and Ontario’s 48, 42 seats in Parliament compared to Ontario’s 121 and Quebec’s 78. This means we are subservient to the desires of eastern Canada.

Dr. Helmcken warned British Columbians,

“I feel perfectly sure, Sir, that if Confederation should come, bringing with it the Tariff of Canada, not only will the farmers be ruined, but our independence will be taken away; it will deprive our local industries of the protection now afforded them; and will inflict other burdens upon them; it will not free trade and commerce from the shackles which now bind them, and will deprive the Government of the power of regulating and encouraging those interests upon which the prosperity of the Colony depends.”

He was correct. We see this to this day with inter-provincial trade boundaries and the multitude of overlapping regulations between federal and provincial governments.

Besides being a physician, Helmcken was a visionary who only reluctantly participated in bringing BC into the Canadian fold. He knew what the consequences were and advised British Columbians not to enter Confederation.

“It would be absurd for us to sacrifice our interests in order that laws may be made for us by a people who know little of our condition and wants, and who in fact must necessarily legislate for the greater number — the people of the Atlantic Provinces. It is dangerous to place ourselves at the disposal of superior numbers.”

“I believe, Sir, we are quite capable of making laws for ourselves.”

“If we are united, or rather absorbed, everything will centralize in Canada, and the whole country will be tributary to Canada. The number of Representatives sent to Ottawa from other places would overwhelm the number sent from British Columbia. Even in the matter of appropriations, where the scramble always is, this Colony would be overborne: we should be laughed at by the victors for our pretensions.”

“If we are Confederated with Canada we become its tributary, and in all that concerns us chiefly Canada has to act for us. In all our chief concerns, commerce, shipping, and mercantile laws, agriculture, trade, navigation, fisheries, currency, banking — Canada rules. She may tax us to any extent, and in any manner she pleases, so that it is quite possible we may have export duties on gold and coal.”

“All such things as require money for their performance are left for the Colony to provide; those that require intellect are supplied by Canada. … Cannot we pay our Colonial intellect to do our business well, instead of theirs to do it badly?”

“Confederation will ruin the farmer, and destroy at once the greatest inducement to immigration; will ruin the brewer and the fisheries; do no good to commerce; afford no larger market for lumber, coal, or anything else; in fact do a great deal of harm and no good, save that which is problematical and fanciful.”

And here we are, 145 years later. We have the benefits of the modern age; we would’ve had them anyway. But 145 years later the good Doctor’s warning still applies.

So next time you find yourself passing Helmcken Road in Victoria, know that the man had BC’s interests at heart but was forced to play by eastern Canada’s rules without question.

Much as it is today.

Whither Wexit?

Wexit. Is it going to be easy?

As an avid reader of online news, much better than the mainstream opinionarama variety, I am somewhat taken aback at how little concern there is in eastern Canada about the possibility of secession by the West. Could it be they know something we don’t?

The latest term being tossed around in our circles is “Wexit”, an adaptation of the British “Brexit” that signaled a departure from the European Union. Upon examination it looks easy enough, call a referendum, people vote, 51% takes the prize, the other 49% can lump it. Badda-Bing-Badda-Boom, easy peasy. Let’s start on Monday.

But is it? Sorry folks, in Canada it isn’t and here’s why. But first, a little history.

Let’s go back to October 30, 1995, the day Jean Chretien came close to losing Quebec by less than a point. It was the largest voter turnout in Quebec’s history and had it swung the other way the Quebec government was ready to unilaterally declare independence.

Jean Chretien, to say the least, was a bit unnerved at coming so close to being the Prime Minister that lost the country. He waited to make his move. It came in the 1998 Supreme Court decision that unilateral separation by a province was illegal, required a constitutional amendment, and that only a clear majority could bring about any negotiations on separation from Canada. Bingo!

The federal point man on these matters, appointed by Chretien, was Stephane Dion. Dion became the architect of the Clarity Act. Now while the act was primarily aimed at Quebec, it also has a tremendous bearing on the aspirations of the West since it could be applied to any province.

But what does the act say? Here is where we get into the nitty-gritty of things, and a bit later on, the implications for Western independence.

If ever there was an unfair piece of legislation born of desperation, the Clarity Act is it. Let’s examine the key points.

  • The House of Commons has the power to decide if a referendum question is clear enough.
  • The question must be solely concerned with separation. This means a clear question, in or out, yes or no.
  • Only the House of Commons can decide if the results are a “clear majority” or not. Exactly what a clear majority is, is not specified and could be anything. This magic number can be changed by the House at any time.
  • In the case of success, all provinces and First Nations must be involved in the negotiations.
  • The secession of the province(s) will require a Constitutional amendment approved by at least two-thirds of the provinces (7) that have at least 50% of the population of Canada as a whole.
  • The House of Commons can override the results of the referendum decision if, in its opinion, it violates any part of the Clarity Act.

A referendum cannot be held by a group of provinces, it has to be done by each province individually. Not an easy task.

So, Wexit? Not in the pure sense of the word. Canada has made sure it holds all the cards and unlike the United States which has declared itself “indivisible”, Canada is divisible but not easily so. In fact, it is almost impossible.  Almost.

With Canada eager to play lapdog to the United Nations and preach from above about our tolerance, understanding, diversity, and respect for the human condition, it would be an impossibly huge black eye to deny these things to its own citizens. Public international law would likely apply in this case, especially if it involved nearly half the land mass and 40% of the population of Canada. New countries have been born with much less.

By now, dear reader, you must doubt the task before us. I don’t blame you one bit but we need to keep a few things in mind. First, this is an incredibly long process! Secession has to become not only acceptable but viable to our populations before we can even begin to speak about referendums. Second, it will not be an easy process once underway. We can see just be the nature of the Clarity Act how underhanded the government can be. Negotiations will likely take 5 or more years during which, according to the act, the Canadian Constitution and laws apply.

There is much to discuss, much to consider and debate. This blog will try to play a part in future posts but supporters need to speak to others and make the case for a new country where we dictate our own destiny. Get busy, there is work to be done!

Here we go…


Illustration from 1915. What has changed?

As an avowed federalist, a tried and true loyal Canadian who served in the Army voluntarily in Canada and abroad for over 25 years, never did I think I would become that most loathsome of creatures, a separatist !

I was also a card carrying Liberal for most of my life. Exposed to Liberal policies during my service and life in the west from Trudeau to Chretien, my views changed. I lived in Calgary during the NEP, it was horrible. How could a Prime Minister do this to his own people and then give them the finger? By the time the Chretien Sponsorship Scandal broke I’d more than had enough. I became a Conservative and a member of the Canadian Alliance.

I’ve watched the elites of Liberal eastern Canada drain the resources of the west and give pittance back. I wondered why low-cost daycare and social services including low tuitions available in Quebec was not in Prince George or Edson or Edmonton, Vancouver, Regina….or anywhere in the west. I watched as we were called knuckle dragging rednecks, treated as if we were not competent enough to manage our own futures. We complained and were treated to rolling back eyes and disgust. How dare we question how the fruits of our labours were spent and by who?

We tried to participate in Canada with the election of Stephen Harper. His election was more of a reaction to enormous Liberal scandals than an acceptance of Conservatives and Harper. Harper governed because he was allowed to govern while the Liberals rebuilt. Evidence of which is ample as can be seen by the constant barrage of negative media attacks and whenever the media couldn’t find anything else to run with they would fabricate scandals. The eastern elites were determined to bring back the good old days of left wing Liberal rule. It took a steady pressure, Harper could not be seen as being anything positive for Canada and as a westerner he wasn’t really a Canadian, just a stop gap. But now the Liberals are back. Another Trudeau is at the helm and the rape of the west is renewed.

I became a separatist. This cannot be allowed to continue. Not again, not another NEP!

I have become active as an online promoter of western independence. My first step, albeit a small one, is to refer to western Canada with a capitalized  spelling, the West. I had an exchange with a nationalist friend who looks at Western independence as being an ill-conceived thing. She says BC, Alberta, and Saskatchewan wouldn’t make it without Canada and the status quo. I had to educate her but I doubt I will change any minds in that set. I said…

” It would be Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, BC and probably the Yukon and Territories. And it would not be an overnight matter, everything from passports to pensions to traffic laws would have to be negotiated. But, in the end, the West would break free of having its fortunes decided by the east with no recourse but to be milked dry and told to shut up. This has been going on for over 100 years and is still ongoing, examples abound.

Anyone who discounts this as being the shrill yelling of disenchanted rednecks, take note, at the time of writing, the FaceBook page for Western Independence now has over 21 thousand members and is growing by about 100 or more per week. A national party has recently formed called the Northern Alliance to give a federal presence. The same phenomena that gave rise to Trump in the United States, is happening in Western Canada. People are fed up. Fort MacMurray burns down and Trudeau tells us it could be worse then puts a surcharge on drywall needed to rebuild, a surcharge only applicable to the west. Meanwhile, he spends millions bringing in Syrians and sends billions abroad to help them fight climate change. The west coast is blocked from use as a route to get Alberta oil to outside markets which would generate tens of billions in revenue and massive employment opportunities, using the pretense of a potential tanker spill even though there hasn’t been such a spill since the Exxon Valdez in 1989, all tankers are required by law to be double hulled and such restrictions are not applicable on the east coast where Saudi tankers regularly skirt the coastline, why? Isn’t the eastern coastline as sensitive an ecosystem as the west coast? Our attempts to get our natural resources are rejected out of hand by Quebec and that’s just fine, even while the west loses nearly 150 thousand jobs in Alberta alone! But Bombardier might lay off 2300 and it’s all hands man the pumps!

I could go on and on and on because it’s been going on for 100+ years! The west is tired of it all. Too bad for the Maritimes but they did pretty well overwhelmingly vote Liberal for quite some time now so they would maintain the status quo.

It’s time to admit that this is a dysfunctional family where select children are abused by parents, an example of national Munchausen by Proxy. The time has come to amicably go our own ways while remaining friends that share a common history, maybe do lunch every now and then. Respect one another and move on.”

It’s time. Free the West.