“Certainly, we need to renegotiate where we stand within Canada.”
With more conversation swirling about how western Canada may respond to the result of the federal election, the M.D. of Bonnyville is considering pulling out of a national body that Reeve Greg Sawchuk said isn’t representing their best interests, and more municipalities could follow.
Reeve Greg Sawchuk said in the coming weeks M.D. council will decide on whether to leave the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, an advocacy group that represents thousands of communities across Canada.
He said the FCM’s platform to political leaders was worrisome because it had only one item relating to rural areas.
“It’s really contradictory to the needs of rural Alberta that I see at this time. So it’s going to come up for our council to see whether or not we should still belong, and maybe pull out of the association,” said Sawchuk on The Morning After.
“I floated the idea with a number of mayors here recently, and there seems to be a lot who are interested.”
Instead, he could see an advocacy group forming of western Canadian municipalities.
“To give you just the impact that it might have, their office is in Ottawa. Alberta makes up probably more than 20 per cent of the membership. And when you look at the conference, you go there, one of the largest groups is from Alberta. If we were to pull out it would have a significant impact. It’s going to be up to councils throughout Alberta, and maybe let’s get it into Saskatchewan. I would even float the option of why belong to an FCM – what about it a WCM?”
Talks surrounding strengthening Alberta and western Canada’s interests have grown in the immediate aftermath of the election.
The divide between Ottawa and Alberta grew earlier this year when local representatives voiced their concerns about Bill C-69 and Bill C-48 to a Senate committee and at the House of Commons.
He agreed that this move of pulling from FCM could be considered a “soft separation.”
He thinks the story of Alberta needs to be elevated and the province could take advocacy measures like harping on equalization, changing electoral districts, or changing how the province collects taxes.
It’s taking the playbook from Quebec’s separatism, he said.
“I think we have to be careful about the narrative getting out there as well. You have to come across as you know, calm and not go to the highest level of some of the comments that are out there and come across with an action plan,” he said.
When asked if he supported Alberta separation: “Certainly, we need to renegotiate where we stand within Canada.”