A Libertarian On Alberta's Independence, Conservatives And More
November 8th, 2019 | JH
Dave Reesor is a long-time conservative writer, thinker and activist with deep roots in Canada. Recently, he has undergone some changes in his outlook regarding Alberta’s place in Canada and is now a strong supporter of Alberta Independence. Poletical has spoken with Dave a couple of times in the past. Once regarding his organization Let's Do It Ourselves and again during the Conservative Party leadership race. We sat down with him shortly after the federal election to talk about the results and what this means for an Independent Alberta. The following is a transcript of a lively and enlightening conversation about the future of our political scene.
Jeff: So… the election. Thoughts?
Dave: When I was in the states a couple of weeks before the election I was talking to family and I predicted another Liberal win, likely a minority that will be propped up by two left-wing parties. When we were watching the results come in, we saw an interview with Stephen Guilbeault and he’s a Liberal MP from Montreal and a radical anti-oil, anti-pipeline type. He was handpicked by Trudeau and people were worried about this because he is likely to become minister of climate change.
Dave: Yeah, it’s a joke.
Jeff: That we even have a minister of climate change is a joke.
Dave: They interviewed him about TransMountain, and he said it’s a done deal. If that’s the truth, then that’s the most important bit of information for Alberta. If TransMountain goes and Keystone XL goes, then that changes Alberta’s economic picture considerably.
Then we can fight these other battles with Jason Kenney and Scott Moe.
Hopefully some of the heat can come out of these conversations. We need a separation movement much like Quebec, but I’m really concerned about the crazies getting involved. I’m not interested in violence or even civic disobedience at this stage. It’s time to talk and carefully plan.
We’re going to a conference in Red Deer put on by Danny Hozack.
Jeff: Freedom Talk.
Dave: Yes. He and John Robson are putting on the conference and they’re presenting two sides of the issue. One side suggests that we work within Canada and the other side suggests that Canada can’t be fixed, and we need to prepare for separation.
We need to talk about a separation movement, but it needs to be developed very carefully. Danielle Smith published an excellent article in the Calgary Herald regarding changes that need to be made. Most of these changes are things Quebec has done regarding collecting our own income tax, starting our own police force and creating our own pension plan.
Then if Canada doesn’t negotiate properly, we’re in a better position to leave.
Jeff: Let me back up a little bit. The last time we met we weren’t talking about separation, we were talking about libertarianism.
Dave: I read your article, Ten Reasons I'm No Longer a Libertarian.
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Jeff: Yes, I still believe in libertarianism for individuals… kind of the Jordan Peterson take, but I don’t think it’s feasible politically within a democracy.
Dave: Is the solution to get rid of libertarianism or to change democracy?
Jeff: Or get rid of democracy?
Dave: (laughs) When I started LET’S DO IT OURSELVES in 2012, I wanted to change the culture. Mark Steyn said at a Manning Conference that culture trumps politics. Milton Friedman was giving a speech once and someone asked him a question regarding politicians and suggested that libertarians needed to send the right politicians to Washington, but Friedman said, “No, you need to change the conditions of the culture so that if you send the wrong politicians to Washington they’ll be forced to do the right thing.”
Jeff: Preston Manning advocated that too.
Dave: I was on the board for Jason Kenney, but I quit in 2011 because I realized that politics wasn’t going to do it, we have to change the culture. You change the culture then the politics will look after itself.
Jeff: The question is how do we change the culture? The nature of democracy is that it will always pander.
Dave: Even the most forthright and upright politician has to look for votes. There’s a tension between telling the truth and getting elected. I think someone like Maxime Bernier was very valuable even though he got shut down by the media.
Jeff: I voted PPC.
Dave: I did too, and a lot of people criticized me on social media about how I was dividing the vote and this sort of thing, but if you go back over 120 years, you can see that Conservatives don’t make any difference. When the Conservative Party wins, it slows the decline, but it doesn’t stop it and when they win it puts active conservatives back to sleep.
Now we’ve got Justin Trudeau back in power again and lots of people are pissed off and that’s good! Friends are were telling me that I’ve lost my mind.
Jeff: You’re looking past the typical argy-bargy of partisan politics.
Dave: A lot of people are coming around to understanding what I’m talking about. I’m trying to be strategic and if you’re going to be coldly strategic, we should even consider voting Liberal.
Jeff: You’re talking about accelerationism, in which you vote for the worst choice in order to push the whole system in the wrong direction in order to create a reaction.
Dave: To create a reaction… exactly.
Jeff: That’s a dangerous game though.
Dave: It is.
Jeff: You end up electing a Hugo Chavez and people then say, “What have we done!” (laughs)
Dave: That’s an extreme example, but we do have Justin Trudeau back in power, and he is arguably the worst Prime Minister we’ve ever had. We’ve got Elizabeth May…who’s…Elizabeth May.
Jeff: Box-wine Auntie.
Dave: Jagmeet Singh, I mean, we are in the worst possible position, but if we want to foment change, we’re in the best possible position.
Jeff: I agree with that. That sort of thinking is what we need. Conservatives need to transcend this whole Harper-era conservatism. It played a role at the time, with Unite the Right and stuff, but…
Dave: It’s not enough. We have to start taking the long view. We must think carefully and courageously…which means we keep thinking even when we’re heading in a direction we don’t wish to go. We also need to think completely. Three C thinking. Carefully, courageously and completely.
There’s too much sloppy thinking, there’s too much cowardly thinking…in which we as conservatives have trouble thinking beyond our ideology and we need to think completely and don’t stop short.
Jeff: How do you think separation factors?
Dave: Separation is something we always need in the background , but realistically doing it would be a major job. According to the Clarity Act you’d need most provinces agreeing to let Alberta go and that would be difficult. You might eventually need civil disobedience and you would have to appeal to the international community. We’d have to embarrass Canada into either changing the structure or letting us go. That’s a long way down the road, but we can start by uniting separatists into one movement based around very carefully thought out ideas and then attach a political party to it.
Wexit is an interesting beginning.
Jeff: Can Canada be fixed?
Dave: Canada can’t be fixed without us having a very serious and credible separatist movement. I wrote a piece called, Breast feeding and the art of the deal. It recounts our oldest grandson who used to sleep soundly, but would wake up and demand at the top of his voice to be fed. He would do this until he was fed, and it functioned like blackmail. Feed me or I’ll make your life miserable.
Blackmailing is a part of negotiating. Quebec has been using it to great effect and that’s what we need to do. If the rest of Canada sees their meal ticket reaching for the door, they might negotiate.
Jeff: So, on one side you’ve got people saying, “It’s impossible. You’re a landlocked country. Blah blah blah.” Then on the other side you’ve got riled up people that think we can just have a referendum and leave with no problems. Do you think a referendum would be the first step to indicate the people’s will?
Dave: We need to get organized and then prevail on Jason Kenney’s provincial government to hold the referendum on equalization sooner rather than 2021. We should add a question regarding separation on that ballot too.
Jeff: Do you think Kenney is the guy to do it? I’m skeptical. I’m not a Kenney fan.
Dave: I don’t really know, but the way to do it would be to start with a petition on that issue in order to put pressure on the provincial government to do it. We need the question on equalization to regard separation as an option if the federal government doesn’t renegotiate equalization.
Jeff: That way we can gauge support without having to force a decision right away.
Jeff: Then what?
Dave: Well, a positive outcome on that vote would strengthen the provincial governments hand. Simultaneously we need to organize a political party that runs candidates in the next federal election.
Jeff: I’ve been a big advocate of having an Alberta version of the Bloc Quebecois on the ballot.
Jeff: That would also make the Conservative Party of Canada sit up and take notice because if they lost 34 Alberta seats to an Alberta First-type party, then they wouldn’t take us for granted and ignore us because we always mindlessly vote Conservative.
Dave: It also gives us more cards in our negotiation.
Jeff: What’s our greatest weakness in making this happen?
Dave: One thing that is essential is a strong leader. Someone like a Brad Wall would be ideal. I don’t see anyone else right now. We need someone with charisma and intelligence to sell this. We need a Martin Luther King or a Ghandi. A non-violent leader that people can get behind.
Jeff: Ghandi created an independent country.
Dave: If we needed a bigger push, we could get a big group of people together to take measures like withholding income taxes in protest of the federal government. If they started putting seniors in jail it would make some waves.
Jeff: You’d need tens of thousands of people to do this otherwise you’d just get crushed.
Dave: Even a thousand people doing it would have an effect. Everything must be carefully and strategically thought out, but the alternative to doing nothing is the status quo and I don’t want to leave that for my grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
Have I thought out all the details? No. You can write a business plan, but two weeks later you need to re-write your plan and that’s just the way it goes.
Jeff: Mike Tyson said, “Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the face.”
Dave: Exactly! So, we just need to think carefully, courageously and completely and then adjust constantly as we go.
Jeff: I listen to the a podcast on Zblog and he says conservatives spend too much time on their principles and that they should instead focus on winning and then come up with principles after the fact in order to lock in the gains.
Dave: Yeah, I think there is an element of that, but if you look at the Conservative Party in Canada, they’ve too often forgotten what they stand for.
Jeff: Hollow victories. Win without it meaning anything.
Dave: Yeah, like…
Jeff: Harper. (laughs)
Dave: Well, everybody. Joe Clark, Brian Mulroney; all the way through.
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