Learning about Leigh

I have developed a good online friendship with Leigh Patrick Sullivan, aka The Moderate Separatist. We both share many similar ideals – libertarianism, conservatism, membership in the Wildrose Alliance Party of Alberta.

I have a natural curiosity. I like to learn about people, so, yesterday, Leigh and I sat down over our keyboards and coffee, and had a chat. I interviewed him. It’s somewhat ironic that I’m going to publish a written interview “transcript,” as personally, I very rarely read these things, but, in the interests of posterity, here goes:

SCB:
I’ve never actually asked you this question – what DOES the “Separatist” in “Moderate Separatist” mean?

LPS:
If we as Albertans fail in our mission to level the playing field and receive our fair share on a national scale, the option of separation should always be one of many active considerations.

SCB:
So it should never be taken off the table?

LPS:
In a nation made up of many parts and vast regions, the option of self-determination is, in my opinion, a vital tool in reserve.

SCB:
Interesting. I say it’s interesting because – and I have my own position on separatism (and as everyone knows, I’m no “patriot” by any stretch of the imagination) – there is always a lot of animosity towards Quebec over this very issue. I hear a lot of Albertans expressing resentment towards Quebec, who, according to them, “always uses the threat of separation to get what they want from Canada.” Do you think Quebec is on to something?

LPS:
There’s no question. Quebec knows how to play the game has done so with unmatched success. They have made national blackmail an art-form. Honestly, I give them credit. They got their asses kicked 200 years ago, and have had their asses kissed ever since.

Therein lies the difference between Quebec separatists and pro-independence Westerners – if push ever came to shove and Albertans discussed that option openly, we would do so with full intent. I’ve never believed for one minute that Quebecers have ever seriously considered separation as a serious choice.

They almost accidentally won in 1995, mostly due to an inept PM.

SCB:
Is that why you write what you write about Quebec?

LPS:
I push buttons, I admit it. Sometimes it’s too easy, and for some reason that tends to be the case with people from Quebec. I have friends there, and some loyal readers. I really don’t have anything against them per se. It’s just the never-ending whining…

SCB:
Oh come on, it’s also fun to push buttons.

I do it myself…

LPS:
I think the backlash is bigger just because we’re Albertan. It’s fantastic to observe what sets them off. It boggles the mind…

I’ve said some hard things about people who are well-respected in that part of Canada, without so much as a peep. But say that Quebec women are hot and Quebec men all look like Jean Charest and they lose it!

I’m still getting feedback from Quebec long after the quote was made public

SCB:
I expect you have to explain yourself a lot on this front…?

LPS:
To a point; most of the emails I’ve received from the East are more of the name-calling variety. Few are interested in an in-depth discussion with someone they consider an asshole.

It’s wild. It makes for some great reading.

SCB:
Which of your articles tend to generate the biggest response? (And is it mainly positive or negative?)

LPS:
I’m noticing an increase in American responses when I write about Canadian issues. It’s kind of opened my eyes a bit. We tend to think of Americans as very self-interested, especially politically. Some of the best conversations I’ve had over the past few years have been with Yanks. That said, the all-time viewer feedback champion has got to be when I write on either the failure of Canadian Confederation or on the fraud that is the international Global Warming movement. An article called ‘The Cult of Gore’ is my most read of all time, and still generates some positive – and a steady stream of negative – response.

SCB:
How negative?

LPS:
From the usual name calling like ‘denier’ and every synonym for right-winger there is, to my one and only honest to goodness death threat.

SCB:
Were you able to trace it back to its source and alert the authorities? You clearly believed it to be credible.

LPS:
It happened right after the article was posted on a hub site for all things Al Gore. This whack-job really was a fanatic for his cause. I’m telling you, it really is like a cult for some of these people. I’ve always said Al Gore was the new Charles Manson. Anyways, this guy was so bright he used his real name on his hub site membership, so they were able to nab him pretty easily.

SCB:
People sometimes don’t think they can be traced online…

LPS:
No one ever accused enviroNazis of being smart.

SCB:
What’s your political history here in Alberta?

LPS:
I was a lifelong supporter of the Progressive Conservatives until last year. I was part of the first wave that had enough of what the party had become.

..and left for the Wildrose Alliance.

SCB:
You see this as one of the Great Dynastic Shifts in Alberta; a turning-point?

LPS:
That’s the chatter. It’s almost been built up as something mystical – the 30 year overhaul of government. The truth is, there is no great power or destiny that is controlling any of this. In fact, if the PCs had not grown complacent and directionless, not to mention an actual leader, they could have had smooth sailing for another 20 years. Their self-infliction started when they made Ralph Klein walk the plank and they have spiralled ever since. If there is any element of fate in the equation it is the arrival of Danielle Smith to Alberta’s political scene. We need a new direction and a new leader, and now we have both.

SCB:
You have to agree, though, Alberta is quite different on this front, when compared to the other provinces. No other province has dynastic, small-c conservative parties in power with sudden sweeping changes every 30 years or so.

Why do you think that happens here (and not elsewhere?)

LPS:
I attribute that to our culture. In general terms, we are a ‘small-c people.

In Alberta, the only threat to the right is from the right. That’s our nature.

In fact, it’s because the PC’s have turned their backs on Albertan values and become rudderless and overgrown that they are on the way out.

SCB:
An interesting facet of the culture in Alberta is we’ve seen a large amount of cross-country movement in to Alberta from other provinces, many of which have a strong tendency to go Liberal. Many of the new residents indicate they plan to vote Liberal in provincial elections, yet conservative candidates continually and consistently win. What happens that makes these people switch to voting for a conservative candidate?

LPS:
I’ve seen many examples of that. It’s like there’s something in our water that turns formerly leftwing nanny-staters into motivated, ambitious, self-reliant Albertans. Honestly, I think that once people experience our way of life and assume our attitudes, they see the errors of their ways.

SCB:
The Wildrose Alliance has seen some interesting and exciting growth in the Legislature, with the addition of former PC MLAs, Heather Forsyth and Rob Anderson. What was your reaction when you heard?

LPS:
Not only is it great PR move for the Wildrose Alliance, but it is proof to my hunch that Danielle Smith and her advisors are a crafty bunch. Both are quality MLAs, but the key is Forsyth. With all due respect to my friend Paul Hinman, Forsyth is now our ‘biggest’ name MLA.

There is a danger, however: Too many defections from the PCs could blur the separation between the two parties in the eyes of the public.

The WAP has to avoid coming across as PC Jr.

SCB:
So you’re not necessarily convinced more defections would be a good idea?

LPS:
In my mind it’s a question of quality over quantity. Sure, it’d be nice to wake up tomorrow with 40 Wildrose MLAs. But who would they be? I can think of a whole list of PC politicians I WOULDN’T want to share my party with.

I think there are quality names out there that aren’t necessarily part of the current PC regime.

SCB:
Like who?

LPS:
I’ve made no secret of my desire to see the return of Jim Dinning to provincial politics. He would be a good small -c fit for the Alliance. I don’t think he’ll ever choose to return to the insanity, thought.

The WAP will have some very strong candidates by the time the next election rolls around.

I was just thinking of some crazy battles.

SCB:
How about yourself?

LPS:
I’ve given it some thought, to be honest. Elections can be brutal. I don’t know if I’d want to drag my family through that kind of exposure and garbage that goes with the battle.

Plus, I’d be up against Stelmach himself.

SCB:
So? After all, a party leader is just as vulnerable in a general election as anyone else. Many times when there’s a major change, the party leader loses his or her seat as well. Look at Kim Campbell.

LPS:
He still holds a certain level of popularity here. It’s like his last bastion of support in the province. A victory against a sitting Premier take a special candidate with high credentials and a spotless history. I made too many bonehead moves in the past.

About Steven Britton

Steve is a freelance programmer, partial billionaire, dad, Recovering Atheist, Conservative, and occasionally prolific blogger.