By Marvin Baker, a new weekly column in The Kenmare News
Posted 11/10/15 (Tue)
There’s been a lot of talk circulating north of the border suggesting that the province of Alberta is entertaining the thought of seceeding to the United States.
Ever since Liberal Justin Trudeau was elected prime minister on Oct. 19, Albertans are worried their province will have to pay the bills for all of Canada since it is rich in oil and has a strong ag sector including crops and livestock.
Sound familiar? Alberta is a lot like North Dakota, but much bigger geographically.
OK, so let’s take a look at this scenario since secession is, according to a couple of Canadian friends, legal in Canada.
Several times in recent history Quebec has actually tried to secede, not to the United States, but to become it’s own nation.
And three times since 1976, that dream has been dashed because Canada didn’t want it’s country broken in two as an independent Quebec would isolate Atlantic Canada from the rest of the nation.
That argument resonated not only in Canada, but also in France as the French weren’t in favor of an independent Quebec and the French government said it wouldn’t support an independent Quebec.
Alberta seceding is similar, in that it would isolate British Columbia from the rest of Canada.
However, in this case, Alberta doesn’t want to be it’s own nation, it would like to beat Puerto Rico and become the 51st state.
How do you think the U.S. Congress would react to this?
Alberta drives Canada’s energy sector with oil wells from the Montana line all the way to the 60th parallel.
Tourism is a huge component of Alberta’s economy as well. Two national parks, Banff and Jasper, are some of the most pristine places on the face of the earth. Hundreds of thousands of people visit each park every year.
There are two major cities in Calgary and Edmonton, each topping a million people and are the fourth and fifth largest cities in Canada, respectively.
In addition, Edmonton is a direct link to Fairbanks via the Alaska Highway.
Red Deer, Medicine Hat and Lethbridge are all principal retail communities that would offer a lot if Alberta were a new state.
There are at least four professional sports teams that consistently have winning records and some of the spin off from these teams would generate more tax dollars than the entire state of North Dakota generates.
If Alberta was a state, the Keystone XL Pipeline would be a moot point and would be built, almost instantly.
Politically Alberta has been conservative for a number of years and recently defeated Prime Minister Stephen Harper is from Calgary. So Alberta would fit in well with the likes of Idaho, Montana and North Dakota.
So how do you think the U.S. Congress would react to a request by Alberta to become part of the United States?
It almost seems like history repeating itself with “Seward’s Folly,” when the United States purchased Alaska from Russia.
Yes, Alberta has a lot to offer and it would most likely be a welcome addition to the United States.
What about the downside of this?
Other than isolating British Columbia, it would almost be predictable to assume that the other nine provinces would fall like dominos and eventually Canada would cease to exist.
But what would happen to Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick, Quebec, Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan and B.C?
Newfoundland, British Columbia and P.E.I. would probably have to fend for themselves as they would be the equivalent of three crippled ships on the high seas.
Population rich Ontario could further develop and could have Manitoba and Saskatchewan join an independent nation.
As for Quebec, it would finally get its wish, and Nova Scotia and New Brunswick would probably join with the end result of Quebec’s original idea the same.
Unfortunately, Yukon, Nunavut and Northwest Territories, now supported by the federal government, would be on their own in the Arctic and you would most likely see Russia making a lot of promises to gain strategic ground.
It is doubtful a war would happen in this scenario like it did in the United States in the 1860s, although you could almost be assured that Quebec would stir up some kind of trouble.
Maybe it’s best to leave Canada as it is so it can celebrate another 148 years of existence.