My current position is Alberta should wield the threat of separation to try to negotiate constitutional reforms within Canada that would change, among other things, how the senate works, how inter-jurisdictional infrastructure projects are approved, and of course, equalization.
That said, if we as a province were unable to negotiate these terms to our satisfaction, seeking American Statehood would be my preferred option were we to hold a successful referendum for independence.
Again I emphasize, at this point, there’s no guarantee such a referendum WOULD be successful – which is why I think at present, the emphasis should be on what leverage we as a province could gain simply wielding the THREAT of a Separatist referendum.
Now why Alberta would be better off as an American state:
The amount of investment our agricultural and energy industries would see with companies listing on the NYSE or NASDAQ vs the TSX would be astronomical.
Likewise, without the foreign exchange volatility in dealing with the Canadian dollar, capital would flood into the province, seeing a sustained economic boom unlike anything we’ve ever seen.
On top of that, we’d be part of the American Electoral College system, which was the very basis of the 3E Senate reform movement of the 1980’s-1990’s separatists. The system of checks and balances in the US system of government guarantee the US will NEVER implement anything nearly as draconian as Canada can such as the NEP or C-69.
Then there’s the labour inflation problem.
The Alberta oil industry struggles constantly to ride market price increases because of the very small pool of labour we can attract to actually implement large energy products.
We almost drained the entire province of Newfoundland in the last boom, and it still wasn’t enough to meet up with labour demands. That isn’t a problem with over 325 million Americans who could cross into our border without any kind of a passport or work visa.
All those factors would also be a boon to all our secondary industries as well: forestry, mining, tech, tourism and financial services.
Could you imagine how crazy the Calgary Stampede would be if 325 million Americans could come without a passport? Less than half of Americans have one. I operate a hospitality business, and am keenly aware of this.
Not only so, but mobility rights work both ways.
Whereas at present, as Canadian citizens, if you have ever been ARRESTED in Canada (not even charged), you can be blocked entry into the United States. Imagine not even needing a passport to travel to Las Vegas, New York, Los Angeles, Seattle, Houston, Colorado, Dallas, Salt Lake City (and I could go on and on about places in the US I would like to one day travel to).
On top of that, we would also have far better access to almost every commodity, good, and service that, by Canadian standards, are non-existent.
Go to Montana – and there’s far more variety in everything at lower cost, even though their population is tiny in comparison to ours.
Cost of living would fall like a stone and living standards would consistently increase.
Consider how at present we are very much at mercy of lower quality, higher transport cost goods manufactured/produced in Quebec and Ontario. The “Canadian” route detours through the Canadian shield.
All the American rust belt and mid-west states could produce goods of equal (or superior) quality without having to traverse through jagged, rocky, often frozen, single lane roads of the TransCanada Highway.
Tapping into those production sectors would vastly improve our lot in Alberta – since by simple geography, it’s both the shortest and easiest route to transport goods to Alberta to go through the US Midwest, even for goods produced in Quebec or Ontario.
Then there’s the strength of the American constitution which actually has meaningful protections for the right to keep and bear arms, property rights, and most importantly freedom of speech.
Oh… and the Oilers and Flames might actually be able to win the Stanley Cup.
No Canadian team can win because the American teams pay better and players aren’t taxed to death as they are in Canada.
That’s why the best Canadian talent moves to the US (and not just in hockey).
For those who doubt it would make sense to join the US, consider this map.
Then consider the volume of goods that come from Ontario/Quebec and think that the differential in transportation costs to take the long, terrible Canadian route you as an Alberta consumer (or producer) have to pay for.
That’s especially why a national carbon tax is so nefarious – because the carbon tax is worked into the end price you as an Alberta consumer (or producer) pay (or receive) for any good transported internally in Canada, even though most of the fuel is expended in transport outside Alberta’s border.
You will pay the tax for all the fuel in Quebec/Ontario/Manitoba/Saskatchewan, but see zero benefit from it.
Everything we need to have a modern, prosperous society we could get from the American states along this route, along remarkably well maintained, 2-4 lane freeways through flat, easy country (or along the other Interstate network roads to the States in the south).
Not to mention the fact that most of our exports (and imports) already go South to begin with.
You have to think, Canada came into existence as a conduit to transport goods east and west – to the British Isles and the other Pacific colonies of the British Empire. When the Empire dissolved, all our commerce shifted south to the Americans.
We literally fought both World Wars to protect that network of trade within the British Empire.
Now that network doesn’t exist. The one that took it’s place integrates us fundamentally with the United States.