In the absence of defining moments, it is sometimes hard to ascertain incremental drift. There is a certain subtlety to Canada's federation unravelling that tends to undermine the true severity. For instance, in Quebec separatist polling allows for some superficial sense of "calm", when really a growing indifference and internalization threatens any affinity. Again, without succession votes or constitutional wranglings, people are allowed to adopt a false sense of overall health, when really there is a inward retreat and an overarching desire to simply be left alone. Enter a federal government that voluntarily abdicates the traditional role of overarching unifying force, and you have the mirage of "peace".
I agree with almost everything B.C. Premier Christy Clark had to say in her op-ed relating to the pipeline. I also believe her new found stance is craven, naked political opportunism, more about political survival than sincere conviction. However, it is simply comical the way some commentary expects a narrow self interest to champion a higher calling. In reality, Clark is a creature of the system, she is playing to her constituency, representing her province, protecting her interests. Expecting anything more from Clark is to seek the exception not the rule, Canadian democracy is such that her state is a natural one. The counterbalance to narrow provincial stances is supposed to be the blanket perspective of the federal government, but again we lack that crucial ingredient and are left to meander.
More and more, provinces operate as defacto countries. I'm an Albertan, I'm a Ontarian, I'm a proud British Columbian, etc... The regional pride is really at the expense of the collective whole, as one sense rises, the overall affinity to something big wanes, make no mistake about it. Without a real voice to challenge and think of something wider, we will identify with the advocates who speak to a more confined "backyard". Premiers are "standing up" for their constituents and all are quick to contrast with Ottawa, as though some foreign bogeyman bent on undermining prosperity. The oldest game in Canada, but also a very dangerous mentality that ultimately fractures.
The Harper model essentially sees the federal counterbalance as a nuance, the "firewall" mentality permeates many decisions. In some regards, Canada is interference, Canada is a distant government that doesn't necessarily represent, nor does it have the capacity to adequately speak to regional issues, much better to let the locals have greater latitude. The trouble with this mentality, it creates a vacuum, it actually believes people beholden to subsets can articulate a wider vision. Politicians are only accountable to their voters, to expect some noble pursuit outside of their fiefdom is to seek rarity and with that practical folly. We can criticize Clark, but Redford is no different, even the floated national energy initiative is simply a vehicle to help grow Alberta's wealth, nothing more, nothing less.
Here's a thought borne of sheer madness, perhaps a true national energy strategy adopts the notion that natural resources are for the benefit of all Canadians, equally and fully. I know, the horror of the suggestion, how dare one posit an actual national approach to provincial affairs, but really if everyone isn't "invested" in certain economic realities, then you will have opposing viewpoints. Yes, B.C is taking most of the risk and little reward, but perhaps the perspective would be different if the reward was national in scope. Rather than these complicated arguments about "spin offs" and worker migrations, equalization payments, if resources were the property of ALL Canadians, then a more Canadian perspective would surely emerge. Instead, we live in a country of "ours", we play us vs them all too often, we lack any cohesion or commonality that binds, we really are a mirage of an entity.
It's all fine, if we want loosely affiliated provinces- as Trudeau lamented- but if you believe societal evolution involves greater accommodations and common ground, then Canada has it backward. Are we forever shackled by our Constitution, can it never change, is this Canada's permanent state until it ultimately unravels? Canadians love to think of ourselves as the nation where all peoples can come and share in the experience, we trumpet our internationalism, our multiculturalism, as a model to the world. In reality though, Canada is a thin veneer, there is little commonality, it only articulates itself during sporting events or historic remembrance, but mostly it mocks other regionals, has contempt for other jurisdictions, while pumping its own regional chest with narrow pride.
We can do better, but who is there is to articulate the "greater good"?