It is anyone’s guess what would happen when Alberta Separates. Certainly, after separation, Alberta will face serious challenges but we also will be in a unique situation with leverage to institute positive change, not just for ourselves, but for all Canadians.
In his book, Accidental Superpower (a book I highly recommend), Peter Zeihan proposes that joining the US would solve all of Alberta’s economic problems.
That being said, there actually are numerous possibilities in separation that could create positive outcomes beyond Alberta’s borders.
It could be the case that Alberta Separation could lead the Canadian Government to institute reform unthinkable in the current arrangement.
Constitutional constraints on the government, more clearly defined rights for citizens and more clear enumeration and delegation of responsibilities to provinces.
It might seem improbable, but if Alberta separation brought about that kind of change, it might be desirable for an Independent Alberta to reunite with the entirety of Canada soon after separating.
Failing that, consider a major driver among Albertans in support of separation. Equalization.
Many (myself included) feel that equalization is nothing more than a scheme to subsidize the stupidity of the Government of Ontario, while bribing the Government of Quebec to suppress Québécois separatism, mostly at Alberta’s expense.
Alberta separation would instantly break the equalization system.
If so, how long would Quebec stay in what is left of Canada?
Quebec would undoubtedly endure a tremendous amount of economic pain. However, that pain would give the Québécois the ability to reform their economy to be free from the Canadian government themselves.
As much as I as an Albertan despise equalization, the system creates a culture of dependency for all provinces on the receiving end, Quebec especially, which perverts their own economy. It essentially makes the Québécois financial hostages to the Government of Canada.
Alberta’s separation would end that arrangement and pave the way to Quebec’s independence as well.
If Quebec actually were to separate, what would be the point for any Maritime province to remain in Canada?
Most certainly, an independent Quebec would possess a great deal of leverage in alienating the Maritimes from what is left of Canada. In such an arrangement it would be in the Maritime provinces’ interests to separate from Canada as well.
If Quebec and the Maritimes were shrewd, they could enter into a coalition or create a new nation outright that could see all of them become a regional economic powerhouse as opposed to economic serfs to Ottawa.
Regardless, if Quebec separated in response to Alberta separation, that changes the game and presents more possibilities for Alberta.
Without equalization, the Government of Ontario, the most indebted sub-sovereign state government on the planet, would have significantly less of a cushion to pay for useless, government make work.
With an aging population, insane amounts of debt, no access to the Atlantic (without permission from a sovereign Quebec – which probably won’t come cheap), and a non-productive manufacturing sector, Ontario’s situation becomes precarious – eventually forcing reform.
Ontario does have some substantial things going for it.
Namely, it’s connectivity to the US markets through the Great Lakes and control of the Canadian financial industry. Both of which could give Ontario a chance to recover.
Moreover, with the US Shale revolution there is a very strong possibility the United States will disengage from the Middle East in the coming years. Doing so would cut Eastern Canada off from Middle East oil imports, especially giving an independent Alberta enormous amounts of leverage.
British Columbia, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba may still be a part of “Canada” at that point. If so, one possibility would be for Alberta to rejoin and create an “Anglophone-Mainland” Canada, spanning from BC to Ontario.
Another possibility is that British Columbia, Saskatchewan, or both may themselves hold successful referendums for separation. Maybe they could separate before we do. Regardless, their separation would present the possibility of forming a new, “Republic of Western Canada” from BC maybe as far as Manitoba.
The underlying point is that there are numerous possibilities that could come about through Alberta separation that could benefit both ourselves and the other Canadian provinces.
The catalyst by which Alberta could gain independence, a provincial referendum, would lay the foundation for how we pursue those possibilities.
Having successfully held a referendum for secession from Canada, Albertans would have fresh in their minds the concept of actually being able to determine their own destiny.
Some might call this liberty.
Something decidedly absent in the current Canadian Confederation that Alberta separation would most certainly end up restoring.