Hear Doug Christie on The John Gormley Show on NewsTalk 650 Saskatoon and NewsTalk 980 in Regina July 31 at 
12 pm MDT
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Hear Doug Christie On The Lesley Primeau Show 630 CHED Radio Edmonton August 1 At 6 pm MDT
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This section pays tribute to Western Canadians who have been significant to the development of Western Canada as a nation-to-be. If you know of others, please email us.

Pat Burns

The talk show host who gave Western Canadians a voice. Pat Burns' "Hotline" on CJOR radio gave Western Canadians an opportunity to speak of their frustrations with the Canadian system and how it treats us. Burns, who died in 1996, was an outspoken defender of freedom of speech, and freedom generally. He had extraordinary common sense, fearlessness, and a great sense of humour. We hope to have some editorials from the past on this site in the future, but for now, you can get a very small taste of his views with some editorials transcribed here.

"I see absolutely no hope for the West...."

"The subject of Western Separatism will not go away..." (with quotations from Peter Brimelow on the subject of Western separatism)

"How to get a fair deal for B.C."

Russell Doern
Russell Doern was an N.D.P. MLA in Howard Pawley's government in the early 1980's during the Manitoba bilingualism crisis. Because Doern responded to the overwhelming public opinion against official bilingualism for the provincial government, he was ostracized by his fellow politicians. After 23 years in teh NDP party, he resigned in 1984, was removed as vice-chairman of the Manitoba Telephone System and given a tiny, tiny office in the Legislative Building. 

He wrote a book entitled The Battle Over Bilingualism: The Manitoba Language Crisis, 1983-1985 which is recommended reading to understand the history of western grievances, and what happens when people who believe in Canadian unity attempt to stand up for Western Canadian values, in the face of the federalist agenda. Mr. Doern committed suicide in 1987. Read Doug Christie's eulogy and a letter by a fellow-Manitoban who worked on the bilingualism issue that show the tremendous effect Russell Doern had on Western Canadians.

John Sebastian Helmcken
From the WSP February 1985

One of the most prophetic speeches of Western Canadian history was made during the Legislative debates when B.C. entered Confederation. It was made by Dr. John Sebastian Helmcken and accurately predicts the position of the West in Canada today, from his vantage point on March 9, 1871. Excerpts from it follow:

British Columbians had no choice upon joining Confederation, Dr. Helmcken said: 

"All we have to do is to agree to a series of Resolutions. It is not pretended that it is the voice of the people, or the voice of this Council. It is well understood that it is a Government measure. And we all know what that means -- it means that this series of Resolutions is to be passed -- And we have it from the Governor that he desires to send these Resolutions to Canada; they will not go, they are not intended to go, as the opinion of the people."

Confederation brought with it the restrictive trade practices that have penalized the West for over 100 years. Dr. Helmcken warned B.C.: 

"I feel perfectly sure, Sir, that if Confederation should come, bringing with it the Tariff of Canada, not only will the farmers be ruined, but our independence will be taken away; it will deprive our local industries of the protection now afforded them; and will inflict other burdens upon them; it will not free trade and commerce from the shackles which now bind them, and will deprive the Government of the power of regulating and encouraging those interests upon which the prosperity of the Colony depends." 

In reference to the arguments that B.C. (or the West as a whole) is too small to look after itself, Dr. Helmcken said:

"I shall not go into the question of Canada being able to defend this Colony; I do not believe, Sir, that Canada is able to defend itself. Confederation would make the Dominion territorially greater, but would in case of war, be a source of weakness. It is people, not territory, that makes a country strong and powerful. To be strong, the union must be of people and in my opinion that condition is wanting."

Almost all the arguments for separation are covered in the following excerpts, which he at that time made against confederation:

"Canada will take no coal nor lumber from us, and will not increase our trade at all; but they will take our money, and much of that money derived from the very fact that we have to pay more for Canadian manufactures than the Eastern Provinces, or rather we are obliged to pay duties upon foreign articles, simply because we cannot obtain Canadian, and yet we are told that Confederation will reduce our taxation..."

"It would be absurd for us to sacrifice our interests in order that laws may be made for us by a people who know little of our condition and wants, and who in fact must necessarily legislate for the greater number -- the people of the Atlantic Provinces. It is dangerous to place ourselves at the disposal of superior numbers."

"I believe, Sir, we are quite capable of making laws for ourselves."

"If we are united, or rather absorbed, everything will centralize in Canada, and the whole country will be tributary to Canada. The number of Representatives sent to Ottawa from other places would overwhelm the number sent from British Columbia. Even in the matter of appropriations, where the scramble always is, this Colony would be overborne: we should be laughed at by the victors for our pretensions."

"If we are Confederated with Canada we become its tributary, and in all that concerns us chiefly Canada has to act for us. In all our chief concerns, commerce, shipping, and mercantile laws, agriculture, trade, navigation, fisheries, currency, banking -- Canada rules. She may tax us to any extent, and in any manner she pleases, so that it is quite possible we may have export duties on gold and coal."

"All such things as require money for their performance are left for the Colony to provide; those that require intellect are supplied by Canada. ... Cannot we pay our Colonial intellect to do our business well, instead of theirs to do it badly?"

"Confederation will ruin the farmer, and destroy at once the greatest inducement to immigration; will ruin the brewer and the fisheries; do no good to commerce; afford no larger market for lumber, coal, or anything else; in fact do a great deal of harm and no good, save that which is problematical and fanciful."

Can anyone deny that these predictions of 113 years ago have all proven true?"

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