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Commentary: The ultimate sucker punch

Inadvertently threatening our retirement savings is actually just a minor inconvenience when compared to the possible ramifications surrounding the controversial Sovereignty Act
MVT Chris-Nelson-mug
Chris Nelson is a syndicated columnist.

The last place you’d expect to find ‘Iron Mike’ Tyson’s name is in a listing of the world’s great philosophers.

Still, when he pronounced with pugilistic precision: ‘Everybody has a plan, until they get punched in the mouth’ he captured one of those humanistic truths resonating far beyond the boxing ring.

Surely the military minds in the Kremlin are feeling a little punch-drunk these days, as what was expected to be a short, nasty race to take Kiev has developed into a war in which they are increasingly being humiliated by the ferocity of their Ukrainian opponents. Yep, that particular knuckle sandwich must sting.

But you don’t need to search war zones to discover how the best laid plans regularly fall apart once the heavy lifting starts: what seemed golden on paper often turns to scrap when action follows those ubiquitous lights and cameras.

Look at the plots and stratagems being devised by those in Alberta currently chafing to shrug off every vestige of federal control over our province.

True, given the divisive nature of the current Trudeau regime in Ottawa, there’s plenty of dry tinder awaiting such a rebellious spark. When you’re treated with continual disrespect then the resulting anger shouldn’t surprise those who appear to see Alberta as little more than an annoying child born into unearned wealth.

Still, all the justification in the world means naught if the tactics used in opposition are as naïve as those now contemplated by the current provincial government as well as those battling to become its new leader.

Take, for example, the suggestion Alberta run its own pension plan, splitting away from the current Canada Pension Plan by following Quebec and seizing control over citizens’ retirement cash.

Oh, so if the NDP once again becomes the government of Alberta then we’re fine with good old Joe Ceci returning as provincial treasurer and subsequently getting his mitts of your pension pennies? Or do we imagine a Dippers’ victory come springtime is entirely out of the question?

And do we also expect the feds will simply nod and agree to split off a suitable proportion of the $527-billion in current CPP assets, handing it to Alberta without a murmur? That they won’t muse aloud how this might involve long negotiations that could possibly imperil current and future monthly payments?

Hey, Ottawa could even use their own incompetence as a weapon: “Look, we can’t even hand out passports properly, so don’t expect us to rejig and re-engineer something as complicated as a national pension plan without humongous problems and delays. But we’ll give it our best shot. Wish us luck.”

Yes, that punch in the mouth would effectively kill the plan stone dead, along with the political future of anyone who subsequently kept promoting the idea here in Alberta.

Hey, inadvertently threatening our retirement savings is actually just a minor inconvenience when compared to the possible ramifications surrounding the controversial Sovereignty Act that UCP leadership candidate Danielle Smith is currently proposing.

So, let’s play a simple game of ‘What If’ for a moment. Let’s imagine Smith does succeed in becoming premier in a few weeks and somehow manages to cajole her new government into passing such groundbreaking legislation, thereby vastly increasing potential provincial powers. Ah, but then the UCP loses the upcoming spring election and Rachel Notley returns to power. 

The Sovereignty Act would have effectively made her the most powerful premier in Alberta’s history. Sure, Notley’s railed against such legislation, but hey, politicians aren’t known for easily giving away power once handed it. 

Now, wouldn’t that be the ultimate sucker punch in the mouth for those desperate to teach Trudeau a lesson. 

Chris Nelson is a syndicated columnist.