If you live anywhere in Western Canada, the shortest land route to Southern Ontario and Quebec is through the United States. Owing to Canada’s geography and sheer size there is no direct route for Western Canadians to access this region.
From Vancouver to Winnipeg, the most direct route involves going south of the Great Lakes through the so called “rust belt” states in the north east United States. By virtue of being Canadian, we in the west have to take the long way north over the Great Lakes, then south, emitting massive amounts of CO2 along the way.
To take the more direct route would require two boarder crossings into and out from the US. Those crossings alone add a tremendous amount of time, effort, and cost.
Southern Ontario and Quebec are the manufacturing hubs of Canada. Every time you purchase a manufactured good labelled “Made in Canada” odds are it came from that part of the country.
Not only so, but most imported goods from Europe, Africa, Eastern South America and even the Eastern United States pass by that region to make it into your home. Such goods are either shipped down the St. Laurence river or through the Great Lakes and offloaded somewhere around Toronto or Montreal. From there, they are loaded on a train or 18-wheel truck to take the long, indirect Canadian route around the Great Lakes westbound.
Think about this every time you are at a store picking up groceries, at the hardware store buying building supplies, or at the car dealership looking at a new truck. With the exception of certain commodities produced in Western Canada almost everything we need to both survive and make life bearable come to us by this massive, carbon intensive Canadian land route.
For us in the West, diesel and gasoline are our lifeblood and there is no way around it. There is no practical way to transport everything we need to simply survive in the West without petroleum based fuel.
Enter Justin Trudeau’s carbon tax.
Trudeau’s carbon tax is structured so that individual provinces collect and keep taxes on gasoline and diesel (among other things) consumed within their province. In so doing, the carbon tax raises the price of fuel to raise tax revenues that then stay within the province.
In theory, the tax should be a wash for domestic consumption of fuels. A Manitoba family driving their kids to hockey practice can count on the tax to fill up their minivan going into their provincial coffers. That is assuming their provincial government is a responsible steward of their citizens tax dollars, something several provincial governments have proven they are not. The Alberta NDP being a prime example of this principle, although every province have had their turn.
That also is assuming the carbon tax does not raise the input cost of doing business to the point that it does not cause severe economic hardship (which I believe it will).
Consumption of fuels for inter-province transport, on the other hand, are an insidious wealth transfer. When a Manitoba farmer ships her grain into Ontario, she has to absorb the cost of the carbon tax for the fuel both in Manitoba and Ontario, with none of the revenue in Ontario going to her provincial government.
She pays the price and gets none of the benefit.
In the same way, a Saskatchewan electrician will line the pockets of the Manitoba, Ontario, and Quebec governments every time he purchases Quebec manufactured supplies from his local Rona.
Alberta in particular is punished by the transfer aspect of the tax. We require the most out of province fuel to bring anything into or out of the province. Within Canada, our geographic positioning gives us few options to change this dynamic.
The 1000 km route through the Rockies to the West is pure pain, impassible without petroleum (or in my great-great-great grandfather’s day – cheap, expendable Chinese slave labor).
The 3600 km route from Montreal is somewhat less treacherous but vast in length.
Both routes, east and west, require an altitude gain of 1000 meters.
Life in Western Canada, and especially in Alberta, literally is walking home uphill both ways in the snow. The Trudeau carbon tax is the Canadian government’s way of making you carry a geriatric from Ottawa on your shoulders who yells at you to breath less with every step.
It need not be this way.
Were Western Canada to separate and form a new nation, the Eastern Canadian manufacturers would be forced to compete with the Americans.
With American shale providing cheap, clean electricity, the American manufacturers in the Eastern United States are poised to make a huge comeback. Very soon under President Trump, anything that can be manufactured in Toronto or Montreal will be manufactured in Detroit or Chicago. Hundreds of kilometers closer along the most direct route.
As a part of Canada, the west has to pay a tremendous price to bring in carbon intensive Quebec and Ontario goods.
Those same goods could travel hundreds of kilometers less from the newly energized American manufacturing states. Not only would the American goods be cheaper and better quality, the reduction of the carbon footprint from both manufacturing and transport would be staggering.
Our overall carbon footprint as a sovereign state would fall tremendously if we were to boycott Eastern Canadian transport routes and goods used American ones instead.
Not only would imports benefit, exports would too. For the prairie provinces, our agriculture and energy exports already primarily travel into the same American states. In the worst case, were the United States to impose tariffs or levies on Western Canadian exports, the odds are much better that such taxes would improve and expand American transportation and trade infrastructure. This would significantly increase our capacity to both import and import, lowering costs.
Who do you think would better manage revenues from Western Canadian exports? Donald Trump, who is on record decrying climate change as a progressive hoax, or Kathleen Wynne and Justin Trudeau, two of the most ardent champions of carbon taxes and economy killing, “green” energy on the planet?
Personally, I have long been skeptical of man made climate change. It reeks to me of an authoritarian movement masquerading as an apocalyptic pseudo-science. “The world’s going to end if we don’t make people pay more taxes!”
Even if I am wrong and made made climate change is real, the best way to combat it is for Western Canada to separate.
When Western Canada separates, we will finally get the old man from Ottawa off our back.
Our walk home will be a little bit lighter.
We will all be able to breath a whole lot easier.