Dear Canada: Happy birthday!
With hugs and kisses from Ms Soapbox.
PS: You may have heard some silly talk to the effect that Alberta wants to separate from Canada because Albertans don’t think Canada appreciates their contribution to Confederation. They’re being egged on by a silly little man, our Premier, who’s issued warnings about rising western separatism and threatened to use “every tool in the legal and political tool box” to defend Alberta’s interests.
(When did politicians turn into mechanics ready to whip out the old tool box when they don’t have anything concrete to say?)
Anyway, it’s your birthday, feel free to ignore this nonsense.
It’s true that a recent Angus Reid poll found 50% of Albertans would support separation.
While this sounds alarming, what it really means is if the separatists are successful, the rest of Alberta would be heading for the lifeboats. For every Albertan leaving Canada, there would be another Albertan leaving Alberta, effectively reducing the population of Indie AB to that of Vancouver.
This puts Indie AB in a precarious position when it comes to negotiating separation from Canada.
The western separatist dream is based on the naïve assumption that Indie AB would come out on top in its negotiations with Canada, the US and the rest of the world in resolving the problems it created by turning itself into a land-locked country totally dependent on foreign countries to get its goods and services to market. Some would call this shooting oneself in the foot.
As Britain discovered with Brexit it’s easier to say “Leave!” than it is to actually leave.
The challenges facing Indie AB would be formidable as it negotiates the repayment of Alberta’s share of the federal debt (roughly $71 billion), national defence, currency, border policy (open or closed) as well as replicating international trade and security agreements under NAFTA 2.0, WTO, NATO etc.*
The hubris of the Premier and his western separatists is staggering.
They’ve assumed the 45 First Nations in Alberta and other western provinces would join them in this frolic, and if full independence became too difficult, everyone would be agreeable to a bait-and-switch that results in Indie AB joining the United States.
Are the separatists ready to trade the political influence that comes with being the richest province in Canada for the influence, such as it is, that comes with being the 25th richest state in the US with a population somewhere between that of New Mexico and Oklahoma depending on how many Albertans agree to become Americans.
More importantly, have the separatists figured out how to replace key public services, particularly access to universal healthcare, that would go poof when Indie AB becomes the 51st state?
Western separatists assume the economy would boom if they freed themselves from Ottawa’s interference. They’ve forgotten that capital markets want certainty. Investors won’t stick around for two or more years while Indie AB sorts itself out. They’ll shift their investments to other jurisdictions that offer certainty in the laws and policies governing resource development, interprovincial and international trade, environment, health, safety, taxation and labour.
Canada, here’s the last thing you should know.
Albertans wonder whether their premier really has their best interests at heart or if he’s just posturing to pump up his political profile.
Mr Kenney had plenty of opportunities to protect Alberta’s interests when he was a federal MP in the Harper government but failed to do so. Now that he’s no longer in Parliament he’s telling Albertans they’re being victimized by Ottawa. Unbridled anger is dangerous and difficult to control. It results in billboards like the one in Edmonton that said, “Is Trudeau Leading Us to Civil War?”
Mr Kenney may be fine with this, but most of us know that if anyone is leading us astray it’s Mr Kenney, not Mr Trudeau.
So this Albertan wants to wish Canada a Happy Birthday and tell her fellow Canadians that she, like most Albertans, is grateful to be a citizen in the country ranked on the World Index as the best country in the world for quality of life.**
Happy Birthday Canada!
One important factor that nobody mentions when talking Alberta separation is Alberta having to pay the rest of Canada their share of Alberta’s wealth. Alberta’s share of Canada’s national debt according to Susan might be 71 billion but that would be offset by Alberta’s share of Canada’s net worth which would likely be much much higher than 71 billion. Alberta’s net worth today is likely out of proportion higher when compared to other Provinces net worth and Alberta would have to pay that difference when leaving.
Susan: I thank you for another great blog. I once again see the ill informed talk of Alberta separation coming forward. It has happened before, and was rejected. The people who encourage, or support separation do so, based on emotions, misinformation, and not on reality. As anyone with even a basic grasp of geography knows, Alberta is a landlocked province. Where would the shipping of our natural resources be done from? Alberta is not like New Jersey, where New Jersey is next to the Atlantic Ocean. They can ship their agricultural products, their oil and other goods very easily. B.C is at odds with Alberta, with the pipeline issue. So is the state of Montana. Next off, we have several different things that were under federal jurisdiction, which would have to be replaced. How would someone send something in the mail, if Canada Post is no longer there? If someone turns the age of retirement, where do they get their pension? Canada Pension is federal. If someone loses their job, they can’t collect E.I. What source of money will they have? Also, money itself is a federal thing. What about defense? The military is a federal government matter. For police, only large cities have their own police force. Smaller towns, reeves and rural areas do not have their own police force. They rely on the R.C.M.P, which is an acronym for Royal Canadian Mounted Police. If a family on a farm were to get their house burglarized, who would they call for help? How would health care be administered? Will someone pay for healthcare with money that does not exist anymore? In addition, way before Alberta was a province, treaties were signed with the First Nations. Good luck with messing around with that. The First Nations are a federal group. The Cree go from British Columbia, all the way to Newfoundland and Labrador. Furthermore, oil from Alberta’s oil is incapable of competing with what comes from America or Saudi Arabia. Peter Lougheed was opposed to firewalls, and also believed in Alberta working in and with Canada. Even Western separation will not be a reality. How well do the Western premiers get along with each other at the moment? They don’t. Another geographical fact is that most of the Hudson’s Bay does not belong to Manitoba, but to Nunavut. Shipping from an ice clogged body of water will be a problem, and so will trying to convince Nunavut to allow the shipping. Also, I do not think that Alberta would be able to become another U.S state. Will Albertans be willing to support whatever Donald Trump engages in? I doubt it. When oil prices soar, Alberta congratulates itself, and wants to hoard the money. Then, the money is wasted like the Alberta PCs did, since Peter Lougheed was not the premier, and when oil prices collapse, as they have been, for the last 5 years, it’s the federal government’s fault, another province’s fault, like Quebec, B.C, or environmentalists. Such a shame. Again, that song from the 1970s, by the Brotherhood of Man, is playing in my head right now. For united we stand, divided we fall, and if our backs should ever be against the wall, we’ll be together…, together you and I. It’s a shame that the Reformacon nonsense is appearing in Alberta again, with Jason Kenney urging it.
I hope you have a Happy Canada Day.
Dwayne, thanks for all the excellent examples which demonstrate that splitting off from the rest of Canada isn’t the answer. I attached a link to an article by Tristan Hopper that went into some of the points you raised. I mention Hopper’s article because he received a few comments from people who clearly don’t know what they’re talking about.
One fellow said Indie AB could overcome the problem of being landlocked by relying on a UN declaration that says no country could block a landlocked country from access to water. What he doesn’t realize is that to rely on the UN’s protections, Indie AB would have to join the UN. In order to join the UN a country has to demonstrate it’s willing and able to carry out its obligations under the UN Charter. The UN says “climate change is the defining issue of our time” and has pulled out all stops to mitigate the impact of climate change including setting up IPCC to provide an objective source of information and adopting what it calls “legal instruments” including the UN Framework on Climate Change, the Kyoto Protocol and the Paris Accord. So before Indie AB gets too cocky about the UN coming to its rescue it should read the UN Charter and its climate change materials because I suspect the climate change deniers in Indie AB would not be able to comply.
Interesting point Ed. In 2017 Alberta’s contribution to Canada’s GDP was $331,937,000 (15.53%). So yes, Canada would take a hit if Alberta was not part of confederation. However Alberta is not the biggest contributor to Canada’s GDP. Quebec contributed $417,173,000 (19.52%) and would be a bigger loss to Canada than Alberta contrary to what Albertans think.
Just to round out the data, Ontario contributed the most — $825,805,000 (38.63%)
Here’s the line: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Canadian_provinces_and_territories_by_gross_domestic_product
Shared on Facebook because I love what you have to say. It’s intelligent and well thought out and has me wanting to yell “Bravo!”.
Much appreciated Carol! Happy Canada Day!
PS I don’t know why your comment popped up twice but I’m afraid to delete the second one in case I lose you in the ether. 🙂
It’s weird that it happens, but not to worry if you want to delete it go for it – I won’t be offended in any way LOL and Happy Canada Day to you and yours as well. 🙂
Carol, I’m going to leave well enough alone! 🙂
Shared on Facebook because I love what you have to say. It’s intelligent and well thought out and has me wanting to yell “Bravo!”.
Very little to say here, I do think perhaps chop off a piece of land, let the separatists go live there and leave the rest of us alone. North of Grande Prairie there is lots of room, let’em have at ‘er and take that buffoon they just elected with them. He can be King of the New State of the USA, it’s all he and his master ever wanted anyway.
Lin Tan, I’ve often wondered why people who are so dissatisfied with life in Canada don’t move to the US. Of course that would take effort–they’d have to get an American employer to hire them which means demonstrating that they can offer special skills that an American can’t–it’s easier to sit here and whine.
Please, NO! Nobody deserves to have that lot for neighbours. Haha
.. there’s that ‘small Alberta problem’ of remediating Tar Sands tailings ponds, frack wells, abandoned wells, unceded First Nations Lands (they were here prior to the Kenney Cathoholic carpet bagger evangelical marching band from Saskatchewan..) even before ToxicWell Day toxic waters bible invention of 6,000 year young Rocky Montains and Gawd th Father Holy Shit Spirit, prior to the horseshit emissions of Methane – CO2 reportage garbage from ‘self-regulated’ foreign entities.. (does anyone think China or the Koch Brothers will surrender to the authorities ? Pay The Freight ?)
Diamondwalker: this is a huge problem. The Alberta Energy Regulator said the cost of cleaning up the oil patch (abandoned wells, oilsands tailings ponds, etc) could be as high as $260 Billion. The AER said a “flawed system” of industry oversight is to blame. You think?
Even if it’s half that it’s still a huge number…and another reason why the separatists won’t be able to rely on the UN protocols to get them to tidewater.
Here’s the link: https://globalnews.ca/news/4617664/cleaning-up-albertas-oilpatch-could-cost-260-billion-regulatory-documents-warn/
Susan: I also mentioned that cost to you before. However, there are people who want to cover that cost up, and say it’s not that high. It is another Alberta PC legacy, starting when Peter Lougheed was not the premier.
Thanks for writing this Susan. Three seemingly unrelated points:
1. A lot of the dissatisfaction with Canada comes from a perceived injustice of equalization payments.
2. Separating, if Alberta went that route, would take several years, as we have seen with how long Brexit is taking, and the UK was only in the EU for a few years.
3. The planet is working to move away from fossil fuels.
Combine those points and it is very easy to imagine Independent Alberta leaving Canada just as it needs those equalization payments because there is no longer any demand for Alberta’s fossil fuels.
Excellent points Bob. Alberta was a poor province once, heavily dependent on agriculture with its economy tied to the price of wheat. In 1947 we made the Leduc oil discovery and our economy became tied to the price of oil and natural gas. An economy based on the price of a fluctuating commodity is unsustainable.
And yet we’ve made little progress in diversification.
This became obvious in an article published by the Globe and Mail this weekend. In 2017 the CEO of Huawei embarked on a Canada-wide trip looking for places to invest billions of dollars. He went to Montreal, Toronto, Ottawa and Vancouver. Alberta was in the “fly-over” zone. I’m not saying we should push for partnerships with Huawei, however the fact that they can’t be bothered to talk to us indicates we’re not even on the radar screen.
The fundamental problem is that we don’t understand our political system. This leaves us vulnerable to manipulation by politicians of all stripes.
You’re absolutely right Cathy, this lack of understanding combined with the inability or unwillingness to stay informed (eg it doesn’t take long to google something like membership in the UN) makes us sitting ducks.
I agree. I would be curious to see how many people who complain about the unfair equalization program would also be willing to sign a petition urging the provincial treasurer not to write an equalization cheque.
(For the record, no cheque is ever written. The payments come out of federal income taxes.)
Bob, I suspect many Albertans would be willing to sign such a petition, given that a majority of them thought it was a grand idea to spend $30 million on a “war room”.
I’m still waiting for the “war room” to set Zurich Insurance straight.
Zurich announced it will stop underwriting or investing in oil sand producers, pipelines or crude by rail in 2 years because it wants to align its business with the goal of holding global temperatures to a 1.5C increase.
Zurich is in the business of assessing risk, this means assessing outcomes and deciding when it’s time to pull out. When a company with $190B in assets world wide thinks it’s time to call it a day, people need to pay attention. We’re not talking about school children like Greta Thunberg anymore (speaking of which I haven’t seen anything from the $30 million “war room” on Greta either).
Here’s the link: https://www.theglobeandmail.com/business/article-zurich-insurance-to-shift-investment-away-from-oil-sands-in-broad/
Happy Birthday Canada. Let us all stay strong.
I agree Rose, we need to stay strong and think for ourselves. Happy Canada Day!!
It’s a bit ripe all this ridiculous and provocative talk about SEPARATION! Good grief. We just have to look around the world to realize how damned good we have it in Canada. Jason Kenney and the rest of the UCP can take their pity party down to Alabama if they like- or maybe Guatemala.
We need to appreciate our country, and work to make it better for all our people and all creatures great and small who live here, too. Happy Canada Day, Susan!
Elaine, you’re so right! What bothers me the most about this is the separatists aren’t satisfied with simply voting against the Trudeau Liberals (maybe because the last time the Conservatives were in power they didn’t do much to help Alberta). Instead they’re demanding we take a leap of faith and embark on a journey from which there is no return. I’ve heard some people say it’s all a bluff and if push came to shove they wouldn’t really go, but no sane politician would encourage this kind of thinking…well not unless Kenney dreams of being the prime minister of a tiny country full of small minded people who’ll spend the rest of their days trying to figure out where it all went wrong.
“As Britain discovered with Brexit it’s easier to say “Leave!” than it is to actually leave.”
In addition to that, most of Britain is definitely not landlocked, so, unlike Alberta at least it has that going for it.
What really amazes me is the cognitive dissonance ‘Conservative’ Albertans experience when it comes to the socialist principle of what they think they collectively own; specifically the oil still in the ground. ie Regardless of this ironically ‘commie’ misapprehension they DON’T own those hydrocarbons, they were sold to Rex Tillerson and his ilk long ago, just like the oil companies bought (along with some used car lots) their premier. So it matters not one whit to a globalist whether Alberta separates from Canada, unless the new gov’t decides to appropriate natural resource assets or otherwise abrogate private contractual obligations, something which is antithetical to the UCP’s ‘free market’ platform.
Really, if Kenney really wanted to prove to Albertans that they were the true owners deserving more of a share of their province’s resources he could simply up the royalty rates tomorrow, but we all know he has absolutely no intention of doing that. So instead he is going after what he perceives as an easy target.
Mice electing cats, with the old cat pointing out the sharp teeth and claws of the fresher cat.
GoinFawr: the mice electing cats reference is perfect! The industry captured Alberta a long time ago, generations of Albertans grew up believing they had to give the industry what it wanted and when that wasn’t enough we elected a government to give it even more. You want a tax cut? How about 8% corporate taxes? You want the freedom to operate anyway you’d like? How about a Ministry of Red Tape Reduction that will get those pesky regulations out of your way? You want a mindless government doing whatever it is you want? Here’s a $30 million “war room”, just tell us who to aim at.
Four decades of kowtowing to industry didn’t make Albertans rich so now they want to separate. Brilliant!