Separating from Canada is not a new idea among our provinces and territories. We’ve seen attempts from east to west over the last century, some much more notable than others.
Some gain full heads of steam, while others never see the light of day. But while Quebec is synonymous with secession, we often overlook our 4th most populous province. The province that also holds the title of having the highest GDP per capita: Alberta
Alberta. The frustrated, underappreciated, and rebellious youth of our dysfunctional Canadian family. Within the constant butting of heads that goes on between the provinces in our lovely country, Alberta must truly feel as though they are in a never-ending fight to be themselves. A coming of age story that never truly manifests.
But could the Wild Rose Country become a reality? Could Alberta become their own country separate from Canada, or anybody else for that matter?
The short answer: Technically, yes. But for the love of God, no.
Secession is fully permissible in Canada. We know this from Quebec’s valiant efforts in the 20th century that nearly made “La Belle Province” into “La Belle Pays”
But our French-Canadian brothers aren’t the only ones to have given this idea some serious thought. Nova Scotia, Newfoundland & Labrador, Manitoba, the Yukon, British Columbia, and even Vancouver Island have all had secession movements, to varying degrees of success. (although clearly, none of them actually achieved their ultimate goal)
Alberta’s case is definitely an intriguing one, though. This idea fades in and out of the public conscious, and every now and again, it captures the spirit of Alberta’s people. Rallies are had, headlines are made, and a portion of the Albertan people make it clear to the rest of us: They want out.
The idea of becoming a fully self-autonomous nation is very romantic, and would definitely give those Albertans a great sense of pride. A sense that they finally control their own destiny, and do things their way, without federal fingers fighting against frackers and oil workers.
But it’s short-sighted. As pointed out in the National Post, Alberta has no coastline. Pipeline negotiations would be hit with a whirlwind of new challenges and difficulties, and the monsoon of debt that could potentially accumulate from secession is also a legitimate risk.
The most realistic route would be for Alberta to become 51st United State. Joining the U.S. is a seeming win-win. It bolsters the US’ economy, making them much more energy independent.
But other factors are also at play here that make the sweet deal much sourer. The US is in debt. Lots and lots of debt. For the same reasons that Puerto Rico should avoid becoming a state at this point in time, so should Alberta.
Yet the movement is back. It’s vocal, and it’s not going away. 2018 saw a number of pro-secession rallies, full of Albertans who feel alienated and uninvolved in their fate.
The fact of the matter is, a lot of these Albertans may know full well that secession would be a world of challenges, both economically and socially. They know that it may cause new unforeseen problems, and a slew of issues that we haven’t thought of yet. But they still feel that way, and want things to change for the better.
The roots of Albertan separatism, like a lot of our issues today, start with a Trudeau. In this case, Pierre. The seeds for the idea of a separate Alberta were planted in the 1970s when then Prime Minister P.E.T. (as he was so affectionately called) began to pursue ideas of a bilingual Canada from east to west.
It, of course, goes deeper than just that, though. The National Energy Program was seen by many Albertans as a direct slap in the face to the economy and Albertan values. These impressions have definitely lasted, as we now have an Alberta who have made it clear they’re not all too thrilled about the new Trudeau, either.
What do you think? Are Albertans right to feel this way?
Is secession a viable option? Where does it go from here?