Meili urges National Unity on Canada Day

-A Canada Day message from Ryan Meili, Leader of the Saskatchewan NDP-

I recently had the honour of joining 39 new Canadians from 14 countries around the world at their citizenship ceremony in Saskatoon. They were proud and excited as they raised their right hands and swore to fulfil their duties as Canadian citizens. It was a profoundly hopeful moment, one that spoke to our treaty history and our ever-evolving multicultural story. I was left with a strong sense of pride in the values that connect us as Canadians, across this vast, diverse country, and reminded again of our province’s motto: “From Many Peoples, Strength.”

Of course, the Canadian project remains a work-in-progress, and smaller provinces like ours have to work extra hard to be heard in Ottawa. It’s deeply troubling, however, to see Saskatchewan politicians willing to threaten our national unity to exploit that dissatisfaction. 

A former Sask. Party MLA is touring the province promoting the idea of Western Separatism or “Wexit.” Former Premier Brad Wall has been pretending to worry about a national unity crisis while feeding that very crisis by fundraising for the Buffalo Project, a U.S.-style, corporate Calgary-funded political action committee with a Western separatist streak.

Once upon a time, Wall praised co-operative federalism, recognizing how Saskatchewan has been helped by Canada in our tough times, and our duty to do the same when things are going well for us here.

But now that there’s no longer a Conservative in the Prime Minister’s office, he and Scott Moe are using political disagreement with the current leadership to flirt with what would be an incredibly damaging rupture with our most important relationship.

Why play such games? Because it is much easier for Moe to point fingers at the federal government than to actually show leadership here in Saskatchewan by acknowledging his own party’s failings and working to address our problems head-on.

We must speak up for the needs of Saskatchewan people within the federation. But to threaten to break up the country because you find it politically advantageous to fight with the Prime Minister of the day is not just incredibly immature, it’s dangerous.

We see what’s happening in the United Kingdom right now and exactly what kind of political upheaval and economic damage these isolationist instincts can bring. Try to transpose “Brexit” to “Wexit,” and who in their right mind could imagine that a couple of landlocked prairie provinces with export-dependent economies “exiting” Canada would be anything but an economic disaster? Politicians who play that game are sawing away at a branch without realizing they’re not on the side of the trunk.

Canada is a testament to the strength that can come from diversity. This Canada Day, let’s reconfirm Saskatchewan’s place in confederation, commit to valuing what we have, and do the work to make life better for the people of our home province and the entire country. 

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