Alberta would be landlocked if it were to separate from Canada. This is the common argument detractors of Alberta Separatism make, which while technically true, ignores the other side of the equation: America locking the rest of Canada.
It is often presented that there are 3 options going forward for Alberta.
- Stick it out in Canada and let Ottawa bleed us dry
- Attempt to become an independent country
- Join the United States
(In a future post, I’ll describe several other options not often discussed).
The prospect of joining the US is often a non-starter for many Albertans (not me, personally).
Considering the option of becoming an independent country, what many supporters and detractors fail to realize is that this option effectively cuts the rest of Canada off from one another and the rest of the world.
All except the United States.
Consider British Columbia.
Without the road and railway access through Alberta to Saskatchewan and beyond, B.C.’s port access is mostly meaningless.
Access to Asian sea lanes are guaranteed by the US Navy, owing to Canada not having a blue water navy.
Were Alberta an independent country, we could block access to inland transportation routes through Alberta that would guarantee nothing B.C. can produce or import can go anywhere other than the United States.
At the same time, B.C.’s dependence on the US Navy for foreign market access would require some kind of quid pro quo with the Americans. B.C. (and Canada at large) does not have much leverage in that regard.
Were Alberta to play hardball as an independent nation, none of the remaing Canadian provinces could enjoy market access “A Mari Usque Ad Mare” (from sea to sea).
Saskatchewan pulse crops, Manitoba grains, Ontario automotive, Quebec dairy.
An independent Alberta would have the ability to make it so that the only reasonable place all of that production can go is to the United States or to the Ocean basin there is direct access to from the newly fragmented provinces.
Eastern Canada would not be able to trade in the Pacific. B.C. would not be able to trade in the Atlantic.
Bear in mind that the only reason Canada was able to entice Alberta and Saskatchewan into joining Confederation was because the Canadian Pacific Railway enabled tran-continental transportation and commerce.
Without that economic dynamism, Canada would never have been able to compete against the Americans, and the entire country would have likely been absorbed into the United States.
This was the reason Canada fought so ferociously during World War One and Two – because the threat to British Asian and European trade routes was so great, the fate of the country hinged on the British winning both conflicts.
For Canada to survive as a nation and be independent from the United States, it must have undivided market access to both the Atlantic and Pacific trading basins.
Unfortunately for Canada, an independent Alberta can strike at the nations Achilles heel of in cutting that access off.
Doing so would effectively “America lock” the rest of Canada and set off a game of chicken to see which parts of Canada would be forced to ascede to the US first in order to prevent total economic collapse.
The only provinces with any real leverage over the Americans are Alberta (for our energy) and Saskatchewan (for their uranium and potash).
The rest of Canada does not have much of a hand to resist American hostility.
B.C. and Ontario as the 51st and 52nd state?
That definitely is in the cards.