Coalition could revive western alienation

Separatist party urged for region

Jason Fekete, with files from Renata D'Aliesio, Calgary Herald

Published: Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Almost three years after Stephen Harper declared the West was finally in, many people across Western Canada were left feeling distinctly out in the cold by the dramatic moves to push him out of power--with some warning of a revival of west-ern alienation.

The hostile takeover bid by the opposition coalition in Ottawa sparked mass outrage Tuesday in Alberta, with politicians and business leaders warning it could trigger a new wave of regional discontent.

Some oilpatch veterans even called for a western-based separatist party to stand up for Alberta and counter the Bloc Quebecois.

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"Maybe it's now time we have a threat (in Alberta).Maybe we do need a western separatist party to represent the West," argued George Gosbee, CEO of Tristone Capital, a brokerage and investment bank that specializes in the energy industry. "I've never seen so much rage in Calgary."

Gosbee, who's also vice-chairman of the Alberta Investment Management Corp.'s board of directors(which oversees Alberta's $70 billion in assets) said he was inundated with hundreds of e-mails and phone calls from oil-patch players and other business leaders who are outraged with the political shenanigans occurring in Ottawa.

Toppling the Conservative government -- less than two months after winning the election-- in favour of a Liberal-NDP coalition, with the support of the Bloc Quebecois, would spark unprecedented western alienation, he said.

"Everybody feels like this is to-tally a kick in the face to the West," he added. "I will be shocked if there's not a western-based separatist party that's formed."

While the political posturing in Ottawa seems to have breathed new life into western alienation, Liberal MPs, political observers and even Premier Ed Stelmach pleaded for cooler heads to prevail.

Stelmach urged federal political leaders to take a time out in Ottawa and hold off any attempts to defeat the Harper government until the new year so a federal budget can be introduced and all premiers can be consulted on the economy.

The Alberta premier said the coalition's attempts to snare power have certainly enraged Albertans. However, Stelmach believes calls for a separatist movement are based on frustration, and he doesn't think it's the route to follow.

"In the years that I've served in the (legislature), I don't know if there's another issue that has drawn such an angry response from Albertans," Stelmach told reporters in Edmonton.

"Usually at a time like this, people just straight out frustration will make comments like that. I'm a firm believer in this country, Canada, and I know that many Albertans are."

Indeed, that furor exploded to the surface on Tuesday.

Calgary Conservative MPs said their offices were flooded with hundreds of angry phone calls and e-mails, as people vented their fury at the coalition parties.

"I've never seen such an instant and angry public reaction to anything from my constituents as this coalition,"explained Immigration Minister Jason Kenney, MP for

I've never seen such an instant and angry public reaction to anything from my constituents as this coalition Calgary Southeast.


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