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.