Western Separatism

I know there won’t be much for non-Canadians to with this thread, but…

First of all, I know Alberta would be the ringleader in a new Western State, but who would join him? Saskatchewan and/or BC? What about the territories?

Is separatism really necessary? I suppose the main argument would be that the west doesn’t believe they’re being represented in the government. But is that just because we’ve spent the last ten years under Chretien and have forgotten what it was like before? What was it like having Mulroney(?) as PM? I’m afraid I’m too young to remember.

Maybe in the higher forms of government we’re not being represented, but what about parliament? I know that the senate is a joke, but what about the House of Commons? If they aren’t representing us properly now, couldn’t we make it so they do?

Finally, would it be a good idea? Would it end up causing more harm to the west? Sure we could live since we can grow out own food, but what about manufactured goods, they’re pretty much done in the east, aren’t they?

I’m asking this question as a Saskatchewatonian who doesn’t want to see this happen. Or at least, not to Saskatchewan. But, I don’t have any good reasons, it’s sheer patriotism.

Gjorp, I will answer as an American who lived in Canada for a few years and who is interested (if not fascinated) by the various separation issues which have circulated there.

I would think that any Western State would have a hard time surviving without some kind of a major economic depency on the remainder of Canada and/or the United States – the same kind of arguments that have been floated about an independent Quebec, which is far more industrial than the Canadian west, as you note.

I would also guess that the sense of under-representation of the western provinces does feed the desire for separation. The main population centers are Ontario and Quebec; therefore, a huge majority of representation is from those provinces. Since I am from the state of Delaware, I can sympathize; next to New York or California, my vote for president hardly matters, it seems. But the Parliamentary system seems to compound this sense; not only might a westerner feel “outnumbered” by easterners in Parliament, these easterners also form the government. And it is my understanding that the Senate’s role in Canada is not quite as significant as the House of Commons – while in the United States both house have equal significance.

As to why this is phenomenon of the Chretein years, I can’t say; I lived in Canada during the last few years of the Mulroney era, but didn’t develop enough of a “sense” of Mr. Mulroney vs. M. Chretein.

Anyway… I hope you receive more informed response from your fellow Canadians. I am interested to read the discussion which unfolds.

Well, as an Albertan, let me just say that I don’t think there’s a snowball’s chance in hell of Alberta separating any time soon. It’s just not much of an issue here.

There is plenty of annoyance with the federal Firearms registry, and more annoyance over other federal meddling. And if Chretien signs Kyoto and tries to use it as a back-door to federal control of our resources, there will truly be some screaming, and possibly widespread threats of separation.

But in the end, I don’t think Alberta is going anywhere. Quebec has been a lot closer to separating than Alberta ever has or probably will be, and in the end it stayed in confederation.

But what if Alberta did decide to hit the road? What would be the result?

Well, I think BC would probably want to go with us, but does Canada just sit still while it loses major oil reserves and its own Pacific coast? It’s hard to imagine that happening. In fact, it seems downright impossible. But if Alberta left without BC, BC would be cut off from the rest of Canada anyway. And that doesn’t seem likely either. But wouldn’t that be an interesting little country, if BC and Alberta and maybe Saskatchewan went off on their own? A small country with a defense pact with the U.S. and Canada, its own deepwater ports, and huge amounts of oil. Plus, a thriving industrial base, a strong economy, and tremendous amounts of good farmland. It would be the basis for a very strong little country. But that’s just a pipe dream, IMO.

What might happen, however, is that if a real separation movement started, and it got to the point where referenda were being held and serious plans drawn up, then that might push Ottawa into finally recognizing Alberta’s demands for a Triple-E senate and proper regional representation. I could see Alberta using its leverage in order to force a more open parliamentary government with reforms that would make it look more like the United States’ Republic.

And that would be a very good thing for all of Canada. It is seriously hindered by our archaic and restrictive parliamentary system.

The other possibility could simply be a loosening of confederation. Alberta might be given more freedom to set up its own infrastructure. In fact, I understand there is some serious money being spent by some Alberta political groups to see if it’s feasible for Alberta to go a ‘3rd way’ like Quebec, with our own police force, our own health care system, and in general more autonomy over our own affairs. That might eventually be the solution Alberta works towards. I believe they are calling it a ‘firewall’ against rampant federalism.

Autonomy, that’s a good idea. I wish I’d thought of that.

BTW, I also meant to ask how many westerners really did believe that separation is the way to go. I heard that theren’t aren’t many in favour, but that was before Ralph Klein was going cookoo for Kyoto. I thought maybe the stats changed after it was suggested by their own premier.

Support for separation in Alberta is very low. The Canada West foundation estimates it at between 6 and 8 percent. Given their bias, if there is an error in those numbers it’s probably high. And that’s the number of people who ‘express support’ for separation now. I would expect that number to shrink if it became a serious possibility - lots of people talk the talk, but don’t walk the walk. Look at Quebec for an example.

Klein made a speech where out of the blue he suddenly said, “I do not support Separation of Alberta, even if Kyoto is passed.” This confused people who had heard zero about separation for years, and wondered what Klein was talking about.

My guess is that Klein was just firing a shot across the bow of Ottawa. By invoking the threat of separation, he was basically putting Ottawa on notice that Alberta was not about to tolerate having its resources controlled or expropriated. That’s all it was, in my opinion.

Oh, here’s what Ted Byfield has to say about that ‘economic firewall’ I mentioned. It basically sounds like a threat, which is what I’ve been saying.

It’s interesting - the site that’s on is called “Republicofalberta.com”, and is dedicated to Alberta separation. I didn’t know it existed until just now. Looks like some fun, if silly, reading.

If the West separates, or even if Alberta seriously persues the option, the rest of Canada would have to be restructured. Yukon would wonder where it would go, but I think Quebec would be more of a problem. I’ve heard noises in Ontario about separation as well. What, then, of the Maritimes? I see this (massively hypothetical) situation ending up with the most powerful (Alberta, Ontario, Quebec) declaring themselves sovereign and everyone else (Saskatchewan, Nunavut, PEI etc) begging to be let into the club in order to keep the transfer payments.

Didn’t someone use this technique in Wag the Dog? My feeble memory and only-slightly-less-feeble Internet research skills prevent me from investigating further …