Trolling

Applause, Premier John Horgan. You’ve proven your chops as a big stakes political troll. (He is the current leader of the New Democrat Party (NDP) which forms the British Columbia government. The NDP is socialism/communism-light in Canada.)

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The man himself. Nice bridge work.

He’s also proven that the political left is always about chaos. Its game theory strategy is always:

 

Defect to any defection.

Defect-squared to any cooperation.

 

The troll you may ask, is saying the Canadian federal government should intervene to give British Columbia (B.C.) relief from high gas prices. This strikes a nerve that was irritated raw in the early 1980s, and has never rested since.

For non-Canuckophiles, to review: B.C. and Alberta, provinces within Canada, are currently in a fight, regarding the use of B.C.’s coastline to export Alberta oil. Alberta’s economy relies significantly on oil and natural gas, and a substantial part of that is bitumen extracted from oil sands. Her Majesty the Queen in Right of Alberta (the “Crown”; it’s a long story) owns about 81% of the oil and gas trapped underground in Alberta. All development is handled by private companies, who pay a royalty for the privilege. Government revenues rely on these royalties. The more oil and gas produced, the more money for the Crown, the more jobs, the more income, the more taxes…you get the picture.

Alberta is big in land, but small in population: less than four million people reside there, with about 35 million total living in Canada. But Alberta’s reserves are gigantic: just Alberta’s reserves (for the whole province, not just the Crown owned portion), were in 2014 the third largest reserves in the world (behind Venezuela and Saudi Arabia, but larger than Iran, Iraq, Russia and the U.S.) This is a lot of oil in a small market. And so, getting oil around the country and for international export is a big issue. Alberta is landlocked, so getting oil to sea involves someone else’s jurisdiction. The best way to do this is by pipeline, and this is where the current fight begins.

Laying Pipe

Pipeline companies have attempted to expand Alberta’s capacity to deliver oil to outside markets. They wanted to change an existing pipeline in eastern Canada, to get oil from Alberta to Québec and the Maritime provinces, and so the Energy East project was proposed. They wanted to get oil from near Edmonton, Alberta, to a loading facility on the B.C.’s coast near Kitimat, and so Enbridge proposed the Northern Gateway pipeline. Access already existed to terminals on the Texas coast of the Gulf of Mexico, and expansion plans were proposed (Keystone XL). Also, an expansion to an existing pipeline (Trans-Mountain) was proposed, which would result in more oil getting to an existing terminal in Burnaby, B.C. for foreign export. All of this sounds great: more Alberta oil sold, more Crown royalties, more income taxes and GST (Canada’s VAT) for Canada. Except, it’s not, because, you know…reasons.

The National Energy Board reviews applications for pipelines in Canada. If they approve an application (often, with conditions), it goes to the Governor-In-Council (GIC) for final approval. The GIC is the Prime Minister of Canada and his cabinet: that’s right, Justin Trudeau and his “’cuz it’s 2015” cabinet. They overruled the previous government’s decision to allow the Northern Gateway pipeline (2014), disallowed it in 2016, and effectively killed the project by banning tanker traffic into Kitimat. One down.

Energy East died a different death. While approved by the GIC, it was killed by the governments of Ontario and Québec, along with a somewhat dubious claim that 180 different First Nations all opposed it, and could veto the project approval under the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Last year, the project was abandoned, with one side arguing it was due to political interference, and the other, claiming it was simply an economic choice.

Keystone XL was approved by the NEB back in 2007, but as it was also under U.S. jurisdiction, President Obama put it on indefinite hold. President Trump signed an executive order allowing the project to go ahead in early 2017.

So, Alberta is down 2-1 at this point (with Trump being their only ally.) Trans-Mountain pipeline, an expansion to an existing project, has been approved by the NEB and the GIC. This expansion has faced stiff resistance from protestors, First Nations, and now, the provincial government of B.C., which threatened to take steps to restrict the amount of oil (diluted bitumen, in this case) in the pipeline pending an environmental review, a step which many are calling illegal.

The B.C. NDP don’t have a choice, really. They do not have a majority of seats in the B.C. legislature. This is a problem because a minority government can always be put to a confidence vote in their legislature, and if they lose, their government is dissolved, and either some other party steps in to govern, or they go to election. They know, they used that trick to get into power, forcing the Liberals, who won the most seats in last years provincial election, out of government. The NDP then made a deal with the local Green Party, who had three seats, to form a coalition government which could survive a confidence vote.

But this comes at a price, and that is the current B.C. government must now take a hard stance on any environmental issue to satisfy the NDP voters, and must pander to the Greens as well (this won’t work: see the game theory strategy of the left, above.) This is democracy in Canada for you. The second place party is now held hostage by a party with a miniscule amount of power, and policy on major issues is now beholden to that minority.

No one thinks for a second that a majority of British Columbians are represented in this current quagmire. And with the defect-defect2 (lets call it “d/d2”) game strategy of the left, any acquiescence to the Greens will just lead to further demands. And so, B.C. is now rattling sabres and quite frankly, will block the Trans-Mountain expansion if it can. Ottawa, and Justin Trudeau, rattle off platitudes, seemingly ignorant of B.C.’s outright threats to defy the law and the decisions of the NEB and GIC, but take no steps to resolve the matter. And this puts Rachel Notley, Premier of Alberta, in a bad spot.

Carbon Taxing

See, a while back, Premier Notley (another NDP government leader) put a carbon tax in place in Alberta. She claimed it was to acquire “social license” for pipeline expansions. When Justin Trudeau approved the Trans-Mountain expansion and Energy East (and killed Northern Gateway), he claimed her carbon tax helped to justify the decision. The carbon tax was highly unpopular within Alberta, however. Fast-forward a few years, and with Energy East dead, and Trans-Mountain facing an opposition determined to stop it, people in Alberta are asking: where’s the social license, and our pipelines?

On top of that, Premier Notley now faces an election in a little over a year. Alberta is notoriously a conservative voting province, with the same conservative party ruling from 1971 to 2015. She put an unpopular tax (is there any other kind?) in place in exchange for getting Alberta oil to bigger markets, and got zip for it. She looks weak and naïve, and faces a hostile electorate to boot. (Personally, I don’t think it matters. She would have put the tax in anyway, regardless of pipeline issues. However, she needed to sell it, and so made a deal with a federal government who does not need a single vote from her province to stay in power. And, predictably, it has backfired completely.)

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Premier Notley

And so, the battle is now waging. B.C. has no choice but to oppose the pipeline bitterly to keep the Greens happy, and Alberta has no choice but to posture and fight so Premier Notley can appear she wants the pipeline to go through. And, in the d/d2 world of the left, it’s only going to get nastier.

(Man, I love watching the left eat itself.[1] You know what will be even funnier, when in five to ten years, when the current batch of leftist politicians in this mess have gone the way of the Weather Underground, and have six and seven figure incomes (with NGOs or private concerns) after wrecking ordinary people’s livelihoods with their antics, while still claiming to “fight the good fight against the 1%.” Never mind the trolling, what about the lulz!?!)

National Energy Troll

So, we arrive, at the troll. Horgan’s allusion to federal government intervention on gasoline pricing is a reference to the National Energy Program (NEP). The NEP was created by Pierre Elliot Trudeau, Canada’s 15th Prime Minister (and in a real life expression of universal irony, father of Justin Trudeau), in order to deal with Canada’s inability to control either oil supply or price in the 1970s. It all started with OAPEC’s embargo on oil sales to several western nations, Canada included, in 1973, as retribution for supporting Israel in the Yom Kippur War. Trudeau was in a bind because Canada was still largely dependent on foreign oil imports. The embargo hurt because it reminded all of Canada that they were beholden to OPEC, because OPEC could fuck with their economy on a whim. It was not that Canada could not get oil during an embargo, but rather that the price was driven through the roof.

Trudeau did make efforts to increase domestic production starting in the mid-70s, going so far as to allow oil and gas development on Canadian Forces Bases. The 1979 oil shock (caused by the Iranian Revolution, which reduced Iran’s oil production by 75%) made it clear: Canada was dependent on oil from abroad, and had zip to say about its price.

So, Pierre Trudeau sort-of nationalized the oil industry in Canada. Some will scream this was Trudeau the Communist who did this, which is wrong. Trudeau’s plan was Socialism (control of the means of production), not Communism (central ownership of the means of production.) His plan was more akin to what the Nazis did in Germany (that’s right, I went there), than what Stalin did in the USSR (except, way fewer thugs.) Petro-Canada was created, a national oil company which would invest in oil development, and the National Energy Program was implemented, which if I understand correctly, required oil producers to sell oil to the government for a price which would never be greater than 85% of the world oil price, and was set much lower to begin with. However, oil purchased abroad would also be sold domestically at this lower price. This was intended to lower fuel prices across Canada for all, but also, to stabilize supply and price. It failed, and ironically, it subsidized foreign oil imports and penalized local producers.

First, when it was fully rolled out on January 1, 1981, world oil prices had begun a steady 20 year decline. Second, no one seems to be able to say whether it was beneficial to Canadians as a whole (gasoline prices went up, not down, while the world oil price fell.) Third, it ruined the Alberta economy and stalled development in the province, and especially in city of Calgary, the white collar center for oil and gas development and investment for Alberta, for about 10 years. Estimates vary from 20 billion to 100 billion dollars lost or taken from the Alberta economy in the half decade or so that it ran. Prime Minister Brian Mulroney ended the program in 1985. Even today, the rhetoric around this issue is so charged and polarized I can’t find a source that’s impartial enough to actually give a good basis to start looking at these issues. 37 years later, people on both sides are still pissed-right-off on this issue. It’s not really important about the details: it remains a highly charged, emotional and divisive issue and even today prompts calls for Alberta’s secession from Canada.

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I was in Calgary when the NEP was developed and rolled out. I was a child, and did not understand real hatred, born of frustration and helplessness, and why everyone HATED Trudeau. Hatred against the Prime Minister and Ottawa was sharp, visceral, and frightening. There were bumper stickers saying “let those eastern bastards freeze in the dark”, meaning Alberta should just cut-off the supply of oil entirely. There was a joke at that time that Petro-Canada was an acronym for “Pierre Elliot Trudeau Rips-Off Canada.” No one in Calgary laughed: it was a fact. Investment in oil and gas disappeared, people were laid-off in swaths, people lost houses (or quitclaimed them for a $1; mortgage interest rates were in double-digits at that time), and lost their fortunes and retirements. I remember my father having to move over 700 km away to find work, which precipitated the end of his marriage and my family. There are all kinds of stories like mine abound in Calgary and in Alberta writ large. We don’t forget the man who caused it and we take note of his progeny.

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And this is why Premier Horgan’s reference to federal government relief on the price of gas is the ultimate form of troll: bring back the NEP is his allusion. If he was looking to make a significant part of Alberta react unfavourably, to conjure up past grievances, and to open old wounds while pouring (100% organic, orca friendly) sea salt in them, he succeeded. He’s now a gold-star leftist: he’s done the endless defect chain against Notley, taking a pot-shot at Albertans. It was a low blow, dealt out by an amateur, too childish and stupid to see some things must let lie, and that one should not place yourself and your province in subservience to a political party which knows only chaos and defection.

Applause Premier Horgan, applause.

[1] Oops, sorry, I meant “People, I love watching the left eat itself.”

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On Weakness

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G20 Protestors, Vancouver, B.C., July 4, 2010. Photo: Stephen Hui.

I see a great deal of discord in western European and North American societies. Canada is leading the way. Something is wrong. There is weakness down to the core. Others are sensing this, and testing to see what they can get away with.

Putin is accused of being brazen enough to have tried to assassinate an enemy on U.K. soil, and when retribution follows, another assassination, right before he faces re-election as President, which he wins. I suggest someone thinks they can get away with this, and Putin is at least complicit because he thinks there will be few consequences. Further, some of his populace sees him as a strong leader, because they sense the U.S., its vassal states, and its sphere of influence are weak, and Putin is exercising power in their midst while they are vulnerable.

The latest news shows something is up:

China surpasses U.S. in Supercomputing.

China allows Xi Jinping to become permanent President of their Republic by removing term limits.

Assassinations are attempted on two former Russian double agents on U.K. soil. Putin then wins another term as President, all while hiring mercenaries to try to weaken the U.S. in Syria. Theresa May expels Russian diplomats as a punitive measure…Putin’s response: “meh, глупый английский.”

Russia develops new nuclear weapons.

These are real attempts with some progress in shoring up power. And these steps will have worldwide repercussions in the years to come. Meanwhile, in progressiveland…

Canada’s Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, on state business in India, dresses full Bollywood, dines with a man convicted of attempted murder of an Indian Minister, then accuses India of a conspiracy to set the whole thing up just to embarrass him. He discusses the scientific method (it’s just “baby cries, baby gets milk”) with Bill Nye, passes a federal budget using ‘Gender Based Analysis’ (which means he will now take selfies with equal numbers of men and women), then fucks off to Florida on vacation (wasn’t India a vacation? But its all good ‘cuz he cleared it with the Ethics Commissioner.)

He did condemn the attacks on the former Russian spies in the U.K. This coming from the same guy weeping at the loss of Fidel Castro while admiring the Chinese Communist regime because, by Great Leap Forward, “they can turn on a dime” to make changes to their economy. A particularly grand turn-on-a-dime, I might add, as the Communist Party had to get around 18 to 55 million dead bodies in a single bound. I guess what Stalin was attributed to have said about tragedies versus statistics appeals to Le Dauphin. But I digress…

Now is the winter of our discontent made glorious summer of discontent by this sun of Mount Royal

Meanwhile, Canada’s provinces of British Columbia and Alberta are in a fight because they think Justin Le Premier can be overruled on the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion approval, something he and his ‘cuz muh 2015’ cabinet has the legal final word on. This is akin to the Lords or the Dukes ignoring the edicts of the King.

British Columbia (the perfidious) defies him, because Canada is so weak that the positive consequences in voter support outweigh whatever bad may come. They are now removing barriers to allow export by sea of liquefied natural gas produced within B.C., while blocking oil from Alberta from getting to their ports. Alberta prepares to fight back with punitive measures because they have no faith Ottawa actually has any conviction to enforce its own decisions externally, much less internally. Both are right.

Canada is weak against Iran (who has killed and imprisoned Canadian citizens with nary a peep from Ottawa), weak against China (who told Trudeau to pound sand on human rights and sent him packing), weak against the U.S. (where insistence on gender equality being included in a revised North American Free Trade Agreement went over like a World Trade Center joke on September 11th) weak on even the most straight forward diplomatic pleasantries (aforementioned India visit, mostly ignored by the host), weak in front if the entire Pacific Rim (simply unable to keep Trudeau’s schedule straight during Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations); weak, caving in utterly in the face of a $20 million dollar law suit by former Al-Qaeda member Omar Khadr (settling for $10.5 million, “cuz muh human rights” – of the grenade thrower of course, not his victims); and then telling a Canadian veteran who fought and lost a leg against Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan that anything more than token compensation for his sacrifice was more than Canada could give, right now.

My remonstration has a purpose: where you demonstrate you are weak, have no spine, take nothing seriously or demonstrate you have no principles which you’ll stick to where even a minimal amount of discomfort is involved, you invite others to ignore you, surpass you (while you are distracted by waaaay more important issues like the “wage gap”), if not outright attack you. British Columbia is doing it internally in Canada, which is akin to what Putin is doing externally with the U.K. They see weakness, and they exploit it. Putin benefits from some assassination attempts, B.C. kills billions of dollars in oil sales to garner votes (and prevent the fall of their government, which relies on support from the local Green Party.) Heaven help Canada if Putin realizes we’re a good place to play power games, although our proximity to the U.S. hopefully makes us unappetizing to predators.

What is making us weak? I suggest it is our current political arrangement of progressive statism which never reflected reality.

First, while most people go around unconscious of the assumptions, prejudices and underlying philosophy of the state, society and culture they live under, nonetheless, every country has these things. These underpinnings determine not only how problems might be solved, they determine what is ‘a problem.’ Everything not falling into what is identified or solvable under these paradigms is usually ignored. It is possible that how the Canadian state is structured causes it to have blind spots on certain problems. By this, I mean the society and government do not respond to these problems because they simply lie beyond the ability of the system to identify. This is not a case of burying your head in the sand (which we otherwise do in spades.) You simply cannot see it at all. I think such blind spots do exist, and problems may be lurking in them. However, I don’t think it’s the issue with current weakness in Canada.

Rather, with Canada, our current societal and governmental organization will not deal with certain problems realistically because they will not allow deviations from an orthodoxy, will not allow discussion of opinions contrary to the orthodoxy, and will vigorously attempt to supress facts and knowledge which threaten that orthodoxy. The current ‘Orthodoxy’ in Canada looks something like this:

 

English have always been at war with French

Men have always been at war with women

Europeans have always been at war with aboriginals

Heterosexuals have always been at war with non-heterosexuals

 “Rich” have always been at war with “poor”

Parents have always been at war with their children

Rationality has always been at war with Religion

 

Diversity is Strength

Freedom is Taxation

Self-Reliance is Dependence

Success is Victimization

Community is Self

Equality is Character

 

There was no Prime Minister before Pierre Elliot Trudeau

Big Brother is People are watching you

 

The only true statement is the last. And in Canada, you are not allowed to even suggest anything else is true but the above. And this makes for big blind spots, which means Canada cannot solve problems, because the facts underlying those problems, and the possible solutions, cannot be uttered or considered without being railed against and labelled as ‘unorthodoxy’. This makes us weak.

In Canada there is a minority in power which requires that the Orthodoxy must be true for the nation, for which Justin Trudeau is virtue signalling his way to becoming Pope (practicing the dog-whistles of the Cathedral.) However, it is not truth, it is an attempt to hammer rounded society into the square holes of the Orthodoxy. “The Orthodoxy is the truth. But Canada is not actually like that. Solution: force Canada to fit the Orthodoxy. Thanks Procrustes!”

The current Liberal government therefore finds itself trying to force society into a mold it cannot fit into, requiring the subjugation of all our peoples, our natures, and all that made us strong and virtuous, in service of an ideology. Our citizens sense this problem and are responding in one of two ways: double-down on Orthodoxy, or denounce it and try to find something better. (I find those dependent on government funding tend to double-down, and outnumber the denouncers. It’s inevitable, given how many in Canada have one or more levels of government funding as their primary source of income. I think people make a lot of sunk-cost errors too: when you pay 40%-50% of your income to governments, you cannot admit it’s a bad investment, so you justify it any way you can.)

The current battles in our society highlight this conflict. We are having very visible and divisive disagreements everyday on issues like race, religion, gender relations, immigration, taxation, economics, foreign affairs, education, health care and government regulation. Such discourse is always present, but lately, it has gone beyond discourteous, subjective, and inflammatory, to be outright insular, hostile and in the case of university campuses, the Orthodoxy is enforced with violence.

The tenets of the statist socialist Orthodoxy were never intended to deal with reality, but rather, were idealistic visions of what someone thought we should be forced to accept as the truth. To sell this, they painted a picture of reality which said such a vision was possible and also necessary (to deal with the Orthodoxy’s identified states of perpetual war.) It was never true.

Reality and what is possible in reality, and the Orthodoxy, have been incongruous and creating tension for over 50 years, and its starting to boil over, as reality can no longer be ignored or dismissed. This internal conflict signals to the rest of the world that we are weak. Those with ambitions and convictions feel no need to respect, negotiate or compromise with us when our own house is in chaos.

Republic of Alberta

Alberta in North America. Map by Google.

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Alberta is a landlocked province in the nation of Canada, that begins on the eastern slopes of the Rocky Mountains, and stretches east to the great plains. It lies between Saskatchewan to the east, British Columbia to the west, Montana (United States) to the south, and the Canadian federal Northwest Territory to the north. It has a somewhat diverse terrain, including plains, swamps, mountains, and forests. If you don’t know much about Canada, Alberta is that province you go to when seeing the Rockies, and access to Banff and Jasper is usually through Alberta’s two major centers: Calgary and Edmonton. Alberta’s economy relies to a large extent on agriculture and non-renewable energy production. Smaller industries include manufacturing, tourism, and being a supply hub and transition point for goods and services destined for Canada’s northern federal territories: Yukon, the Northwest Territories and Nunuvut.

Rhetoric around separation of the Province of Alberta occasionally arises. Sometimes independence, sometimes joining the United States, is the stated goal. Often, there is none, but just venting about the latest raw deal from Ottawa. It seems to appear whenever the province is not content with its place in Confederation (Canada’s term for the collection of political entities that form it and how they came together.)  It’s not a well known idea: when someone says “Free Alberta!” Ottawa wonders if Queen Victoria’s daughter is in jail somewhere, as opposed to when someone says “Vive le Québec libre!” (spoken by someone who was not even Canadian), which Ottawa responds to by firing canons of cash across the Ottawa river and down the St. Lawrence.

Can Alberta separate?

  1. Generally speaking, perhaps, like Iceland. Iceland’s independence movement was a slow going process. They became wholly a part of the Kingdom of Denmark in 1814 (Treaty of Kiel), a nation which did not have much interest in maintaining vassal states. By way of peaceful advocacy, intellectual discourse, and sometimes propaganda, a common national identity asserted itself, resulting in small steps towards independence (independent parliament – the Al­þing), more control over otherwise regional matters, culminating with some lucky timing: Germany’s invasion of Denmark in 1940, giving Iceland opportunity to leave (no sovereign government in Denmark and a disinterested occupying Third Reich), along with justification (need to remain neutral in World War II and assert sovereignty), with luck of location (being seen as an necessary to occupy by the UK and later USA to prevent German U-boat supremacy in the North Atlantic).
  2. Possibly by armed revolution, through violent  struggle which involves fighting armed forces from across Canada (who will be related to the very Albertans they are fighting, not to mention the Albertans fighting with the Canadian Armed Forces), somehow keeping the USA out (or, on Alberta’s side), while importing enough modern weaponry overland (by truck or plane: no ocean ports in Alberta.) This option is likely bloody, ill advised, and prone to failure. (See the unpleasantness during the War Between the States as to how even a well-armed, disciplined revolution, with plenty of ocean access, in North America, was strangled.)
  3. Otherwise, by at least one referendum followed by a not very clear process arising from a not very clear (and overstepping) court decision which was requested by the Canadian government under not clear circumstances: something to do with Québec’s second almost-departure (a province that could likely separate if they wanted to; Alberta, you don’t get that option). All governed, with no hint of irony, by Canada’s Clarity Act. This could culminate in full independence, or might be a way for Alberta to join the United States.

Regardless, you’ll need a concentrated effort of dozens of years of building a narrative that it is just, right, and Alberta’s destiny, to be independent of Canada (in other words, you’ll need to propagandize broadly and hard, something only the NDP seem any good at in Alberta).

So you could…but as you see, the road is murky, and fraught.

None of this would happen overnight. It would mean a huge cultural shift within Alberta, and somewhat of a shift without. And the United States of America would have to be willing partner in such a separation: you need the USA’s assent more that you need Ottawa’s. The United States cannot tolerate instability half a world away when it threatens their interests, so they certainly won’t tolerate it being right next door. And, you see, because of the way Alberta was created, the rest of Canada is likely not letting you out – not without extracting dozens of years of all those transfer payments you keep making right now to pay “your” share of the Canadian federal debt (which should be an amount Ottawa owes you, given the net income flow to them; but you know that’s not how it will go.)

Alberta’s departure will involve making a deal with at least two devils (Ottawa and Washington), or more likely, eleven (add the other provinces).

(This does not include all those First Nations within Alberta. They signed treaties going back hundreds of years with Canada, which require Canada to provide them with certain goods and services in exchange for surrendering their claims over almost all the land that now makes up Canada. How you negotiate in this legal quagmire? Negotiate with First Nations and recognize their claims is the only way I can think of. Offer them a better deal and get them to do a great deal of your agitating for you (which could be as easy as deciding you don’t know better than they do and then not dictating to them how they should live their lives while not offering them only two alternatives: stagnancy or cultural assimilation, and then making sure your indolence does not stick them in a difficult position in between; I digress.) And you’ll need Canada to agree to relinquish title to First Nations lands. Otherwise, you’ll have all kinds of little enclaves within Alberta’s borders whose land is held in a sui generis trust by the very country you separated from: intolerable to all parties involved.)

Should Alberta separate?

Yes. Between 2008 and 2017, the amount of money transferred out of Alberta to other provinces is $5000 per person (over that period). Every single person, regardless of income, age, status, or employment. And that means those of you actually earning income by working or running a business paid much more.

If the British could have counted on this much net income from any of its former colonies, they would still be colonies.

This is balanced out (perhaps) by the good features of being a part of Canadian confederation. Canada negotiates on your behalf against many world powers, that if Alberta were all alone, would ignore you mostly, and play hard with you the rest of the time (USA, EU, Mexico, China, Russia, Japan…and many others are in this list, although if you are separate, Canada will still try to use control of Alberta’s natural resources as a political and economic tool, but they’ll likely be way more honest about it.) You get passports and relatively free international travel, a stable rule-of-law type business environment with courts, while overburdened, that play by consistent rules, and access to foreign markets, stable currency, and lower government lending rates. You’d probably lose some of this (for some time) if you left Canada. Although, the correct response to this is: “all the other provinces get these goodies too…plus our money!”

The real reason you should separate, Alberta, is that you are ruled by a small cabal of politicians and business men, who govern the entire country, a mari usque ad mare, living and playing politics within an extended golden horseshoe (from Québec City, through Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto and back around to Niagara-on-the-Lake), and a little in Vancouver for good measure. Don’t believe me, look at every single prairie politician or political movement that ever went to Ottawa with an agenda: they knew out of the gate they’d have to appeal to Ontario and Québec voters in the horseshoe or it was never going to work (see Reform Party history.)

The current ruling federal Liberal government knows this: a political party does not need a single vote between BC and Manitoba to win power and stay in power in Ottawa. And they only need moderate support from urban centers outside of Ontario and Québec, and about 40% of the vote from within central Canada, to rule. It really is, for Alberta, transfer payments granting continuous opposition status (akin to taxation without representation). And unlike the lead up to the US War of Independence, Alberta is actually supposed to have representation (a promise the original 13 colonies were never given in the UK Parliament).

(Now you know why Justin Le Premier forgets your name, and only hangs out with you during Stampede, when you’re giving away free food and booze and just want to get along.)

The Upper/Lower Canada Cabal sees you Alberta at best as a vassal state, but lately, a colony, and not an independent partner in Confederation. Those provinces which initially started Canada (Ontario, Québec, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick) were very independent for colonies, with their own legal and political establishments. They enjoyed the same independence that the colonies that would eventually form the USA enjoyed, but the true north strong and free were better behaved. They entered confederation as willing partners in a commonwealth intended to provide for their mutual interests (i.e. to protect themselves from the United States, fresh off its Civil War). Prince Edward Island, British Columbia and Newfoundland joined later (being colonies of the UK, running their own affairs with the UK Parliament’s oversight). Alberta and Saskatchewan (Manitoba is a bit of an anomaly) are really of no higher position than the federal territories of Yukon, the Northwest Territories, or Nunavut.

The only difference is Canada didn’t want to be bothered handling all that boring stuff that other provinces handle on their own, in a large swath of the Northwest Territories, so (and this is the kicker) it created Alberta and Saskatchewan from territory Canada already held. Alberta was not an independent state or a UK colony invited to enter Canada; Alberta was created for the convenience of the federal state of Canada from its own territory.

When it has been favourable to Canada, Alberta has gotten more rights or autonomy, but only when favourable to Canada: see the Constitution Act, 1930, as an example, which gave Alberta the mines and mineral rights underlying the land it was made from, twenty-five years after it was created. Further, Alberta and Saskatchewan were modeled on the laws of Ontario and Québec (e.g. the reason for Catholic school funding protection), so as to insure the part of Canada that mattered (the center!) supported the creation of those provinces. Alberta and Saskatchewan were originally conceived as a single province, but ultimately were created separately so that they could never grow to such a size to compete with Ontario and Québec as the centers of power in Canada.

So Alberta: do you see? Your were designed to be small, and remain small, always subservient to the interests of your central Canadian masters.  You are not a partner. You’d be lucky to say you are a vassal state, but you’re not even that: Ottawa interferes far too often in your internal matters, for the sake of Canada of course! (Totally justifying ignoring that annoying division of powers in sections 91 and 92 of the Constitution Act, 1867.)

And masters they are. When you are humming along fine, ponying up funds for equalization to everyone else in Canada, and otherwise not being a bother, you get ignored. And what bliss it is. But when you are down on your luck, you get the federal government kicking at you while it can. Almost like an unwanted child, eh? Or a colony? Certainly not a partner.

Will Alberta separate?

Probably not. No one is starving in the street, subject to Gulag style forced labour, persecuted, raped, executed or otherwise trodden upon by some exercise of Canada’s authority to the extent necessary to incite an immediate revolution. There’s no ethnic cleansing or Lebensraum policy being pursued. Sorry, Alberta, but if you want out, you’re going to have to do this like former and current Danish holdings Iceland (see above, independent in 1946), the Faroe Islands and Greenland (still underway), and not Argentine or USA style, and you’d better hope not a lá South Sudan or Timor L’Este.

And going Iceland style means a long-period of independence advocacy (100+ years!) followed by some very lucky breaks. It also means having a sense of nationhood, independence, common-identity, and Alberta, you’ve got some of it, but not enough, and at the end of the day, collectively, you don’t want it. You are way too comfortable right where you are.