March 21st, 2019

Is Canada playing institutional victim games with Albertans?

By Letter to the Editor on March 13, 2019.

Just the other day, I was re-reading a very old self-help book that I keep for bathroom reading. I started to read the section called “Some Common Institutional Victim Games” and quickly realized that this entire section could easily apply to us, Albertans, today. Three “victim games,” really stuck out:

1. Making the institution (Canada) “a person” 2. Swearing your allegiance first and forever (to Canada) 3. Falling into the jargon trap (ie. equalization)

Pierre Berton (a famous Canadian author) once wrote, “Our love affair with Canada has been long and slow, never a sudden infatuation.” If you didn’t know that “Canada” was just a country – an alliance of provinces really – you might believe “Canada” to be the name of a woman (person) whom he loves. In fact, Canada is just a corporate entity, which receives and redistributes our money to people we (mostly) do not know and to places we almost never go.

I have often heard Canada described in terms of a family – complete with parents and siblings. Contrary to popular belief, unless you are a corporate lawyer, provinces are not real “people.” Is the Province of Quebec going to care or cry if you die tomorrow? Probably not. And I doubt very much, that even Quebecers, themselves, (who live very far away) took notice when Ralph Klein, Alberta’s beloved premier, died.

Albertans have been swearing their allegiance – forever – to institutions – like the Canadian federal government – as long as Alberta has been a province. Where has this “Canada first and forever allegiance” gotten Albertans so far? Many Albertans risked their financial futures on Alberta, only to find that their contribution (decades of paying hundreds of billions more in federal taxes than they received back in benefits) was neither respected or even remembered. And now, to add insult to injury, unemployed and underemployed Albertans (some of whom used to be employers) are being told, that the prime beneficiaries (ie. Quebec) of their extra taxes, would rather buy their oil from a nation (Saudi Arabia) that has little regard for human rights let alone so-called Canadian values.

And now that we are on the subject of values, it seems that this “person” – Canada – has made words like “equalization” and “health transfer payments” into the most respected Canadian values. And what amounts to “wealth transfers” – from Albertans for the past five decades – have gone on, unchallenged, in the name of “fairness.” This is just “jargon” – confusing and meaningless talk. It took me a lifetime to realize that it wasn’t our Alberta government that simply cut an “equalization cheque” or “transfer payment” to others. In fact it is the Canadian government that takes more tax from Albertans to give to others. And Albertans are told, by the “Canada” jargon experts, that the federal formula for “equalization” is far too complicated to easily communicate.

And there you have it. Albertans’ victimhood is complete in three easy steps. First, believe that the “machine” you are dealing with is a living and breathing “person” that you can love. Second, swear your undying allegiance to this “person” forever. Third, like a subservient wife, believe every word that your abusive husband tells you – because this Canada “guy” deserves your love more than even yourself, your family, your friends, or your neighbours – even if others tell you that “he’s (Canada) no good for you.” (and we mean no disrespect to the real abused women – our hearts go out to you).

Corinne and Jay Bortnik

Hanna, Alta.

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