Saturday, June 18, 2005

An Independent Alberta Cannot Be

Start with some assumptions:
  1. carbon fuel reserves in Alberta are strategic
  2. Alberta is landlocked
If you are not willing to concede these two assumptions, leave me a comment explaining why (so I learn), and accept this invitation to depart this blog post now.

The consequences of these two assumptions I present below:
  1. strategic carbon fuel reserves

    Federal Canada will fight tooth and nail to hold these reserves. Tarriffs, world court actions, military intervention, public opinion, you name it. Canada's greatest weapon will be trade-related. Especially imports. Things like kitchen sinks, Japanese SUVs, vegetables, radios, TVs, hockey equipment... Ottawa can cut off access to imports from the rest of Canada through a variety of mechanisms. There will be political support for any of these actions from Central Canada - where else the east meet its carbon fuel needs?

  2. landlocked

    Alberta has no independent access to a seaport. True, it does not now, and must rely on surface and air for importation. Access to sea transportation is vitally important to an independent nation. The Feds will cut off access to imports from the rest of Canada.
Alberta will thus be forced to look south of the border for access to imported goods. The US will thus have the opportunity to achieve a quid-pro-quo: oil for access to the sea. Either Alberta accepts federation into the US, or trilateral negotiations begin wherein the US finds a way to prevent the remaining Canadian Federation from destabilizing the supply. It will be a mess, possibly driving the final wedge between Canada and the US.

In short, a very real outcome is that Alberta may have to accept entry into the US federation as the price to pay for access to sea trade when Canada starts to play hardball - which it must. If Albertans begin taking steps toward independence (and I cannot say I blame them), then they must understand that the game is for keeps, and be prepared to accept this potential outcome.

There is a reason Trudeau felt secure enough about the federal control over Alberta to be able to stridently raise his signal digit salute in Salmon Arm. Give it a think.