Canada – Ten little countries

Lougheed and Trudeau
The constitution battle
Trudeau’s Canada
Lougheed’s Canada

Many Albertans remember Peter Lougheed as “standing up to Ottawa”, an election promise of Alberta political parties since the province was created in 1905.

For Lougheed’s Government, standing up meant stopping Ottawa from taxing Alberta’s oil production. To stop Ottawa, he leveraged oil production in the negotiations for patriation of the Constitution and successfully neutered Trudeau’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms by championing a notwithstanding clause (the same clause that is in his first provincial piece of legislation, the Alberta Bill of Rights).

The notwithstanding clause gives each province the right to opt out of crucial parts of the Charter (the Alberta Bill of Right’s notwithstanding clause gives the Government the right to completely ignore its Bill), thus setting the stage for a checkerboard of rights across the country – ten little countries.

Conversely, Pierre Trudeau was “old school”, believing that a strong centralized government could save Canada from the threat of national dissolution posed by Quebec separation referendums (the most recent one failed by a mere 0.58%). He also believed that Alberta’s revenue windfall from oil should be shared across the country, and for this he held the hammer. The division of powers between the federal and provincial governments gave the federal government the authority to control inter-provincial commerce and to tax however, and how much, it wanted.

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