Forty years ago, if you were driving on the prairies, particularly in Alberta, you might have been jolted by a rather provocative bumper sticker. It said “Let the Eastern Bastards Freeze in the Dark”.
The recent ice storm that plunged many thousands into frigid darkness in southern Ontario sparked a grim reminder of that very ugly time in Canada’s national history. World oil prices were on the rise, sparked by turmoil in the middle east and the Persian Gulf. Alberta wanted their piece of the action. They were led by Peter Lougheed who argued with great conviction that his province should get full value for the black gold which they had in abundance.
In the other corner, representing eastern interests, was Pierre Trudeau. Canadians paid less than world prices, even for the oil we imported from Venezuela. It took some major constitutional showdowns, but the provinces with valuable resources eventually got their way.
Now all of us pay more than we should when we pull up to the gas pump, and that famous bumper sticker is no longer relevant. It all happened without a single shot being fired, and without the pipeline taps being turned off. It’s the Canadian Way and it should make us proud.
It should also make us proud when electrical workers from the prairies voluntarily give up Christmas with their families and head east to help get the lights back on. It was the same in southern Alberta last June when record floods created all sorts of misery for thousands of people. I also saw it in Manitoba in the Flood of the Century in 1997.
Soldiers and police were close by, just in case, but they’re not really needed like they are in some far away places when disaster strikes. Taking care of each other is what a country like Canada is all about.
We would do well to remember that as 2014 begins.
I’m Roger Currie