Canada's Wexit Debacle
Frustrations in Western Canada
Canada's extensive landmass is unique. Behind Russia, it is the largest country in the entire world. With it comes exorbitant natural resources which includes natural gas, oil, precious metals, fishing and lumber. The only way to unite the entire Dominion was to build an ambitious transcontinental railroad that was designed to link every province with each other. It would become the backbone of the entire country for decades to come and helped established Canada as a nation and competitive trade partner in the world community.
But there is a downfall to its grand scale. According to complaints in the west, many people far away from the nation's capital of Ottawa, feel like they have been misrepresented at the House of Commons. To them, only specific provinces received generous rewards and recognition such as Ontario or even Quebec. Accusations of imbalance and exploitation are collections of abuse Western Canadians have blamed Ottawa for decades. There are less representatives from Western Canada in Ottawa to fight for them and their expectations. It seems to them that Central Canada is awarded with limitless attention whereas the West gets shut out. Is this true? Let us find out.
There are problems with these beliefs. Firstly, it comes down to simple demographics and geography. Western Canada is less populated than its Central Canadian counterpart. Therefore, there is less representation. Secondly, the world is gradually transitioning to renewable resources and clean energy. Fossil fuels are considered dirty and antiquated. They are severe pollutants to the planet. According to data, Canada is one of the most polluting countries in the world. The fact that Alberta is pushing for more extensive use of its resources to the open international market doesn't help the situation. Instead of diversifying its bottom line and economic performance, they are dead-set on an industry of fossil fuels and are refusing to make concessions. Alberta under Kenney is setting itself up for disaster. The fact is, many Albertans want to relive the glory days of the oil and gas boom years. They don't want their livelihood and luxury to vanish. This mentality is making it difficult for them to accept other opportunities and it gives the Canadian federal government an enormous headache.
In the past, Alberta was the golden child within Canada. In fact, its revenue surpassed any other province with little to no effort. But the problem lies within its political leadership at the time. Instead of starting a reliable provincial reserve for future use, much like Norway and its offshore drilling and oil volumes, Alberta refused to invest for the long-term. As a result, when an emergency happens, such as a recession due to extremely low oil prices per barrel, the Albertan government could turn to their reserves and soften the blow. Unfortunately for them, they didn't consider it. As a problematic recession did occur, massive unemployment and company closures were the result. Financial trouble and bankruptcies are the new norm for many workers in the sector. The bubble burst and the people couldn't fall back on anything. Mismanagement, indeed.
Prime Minister's reelection reignited demands of separation. If you would take a look at the political, demographic map of Canada, the division is clear to see. The Western provinces vote primarily Conservative, whereas the Federal Liberal Party have retained large constituencies in Central and Eastern Canada. The NDP maintain a strong hold in the lower-mainland (Vancouver Metro and the Fraser Valley including parts of Ontario and Quebec. Voters in the Prairie provinces vote Conservative because they believe this party will speak for them on key issues such as pipelines and the oil & gas industry. Since this industry is coming apart, they can't see the Liberal Party backing them.
Western Canadians in Alberta expected the federal government to help them out. But Prime Minister Justin Trudeau isn't really keen on helping the stricken industry. The Carbon Tax is one example. The fact that his government supports the Paris Climate Accords is another reason for his current position. Provincial leaderships in Western Canada, excluding British Columbia, see Trudeau's stance as a threat to their way of life. Trudeau prefers to take the environmental route because the affects of climate change are all-encompassing (far more powerful hurricanes, wildfires, droughts etc). But none of this matters to top figures in the oil & gas industry and they don't want to be told what to do. They want to see more autonomy so they can figure out what is best for their provinces and people.
The troubling and nearly stagnant progress of a new pipeline that is theoretically supposed to rejuvenate the Albertan economy by linking the precious resource to foreign markets via Vancouver is another turbulent example of Western Canada's doubt and insecurity. The main problem here is environmental. Pipelines have a long and detailed history of bursting. There have been catastrophic oil spills for decades causing irreparable damage to vast ecosystems. The provincial government of British Columbia under Premier John Horgan knows this all too well, which is why his government has tried time and time again to legally block its construction. If it does get built, enormous amounts of wildlife will be at stake. Increased tanker and maritime traffic on the West Coast will threaten diverse marine mammals and creatures. British Columbia doesn't want a tanker accident on its coast like what happened with the Exxon Valdez off the Alaskan Coast in 1989. I sure don't. The threats outweigh the benefits, plain and simple.
In a surprising move, Trudeau decided to back the project. His government used tax-payer money to purchase the pipeline project to make sure it proceeds as planned. But for many it was too little too late to make amends. Due to these problems, many Western Canadians, especially in Alberta and Saskatchewan, want to leave the Confederation and become independent. They think Ottawa and the Prime Minister's office can't understand what they are going through and don't have their interests at heart.
I firmly believe that Alberta and Saskatchewan aren't going anywhere. Their union with Canada is binding. Its an agreement with Ottawa that can't be undone. My opinion is that the people of these provinces should prepare for major changes in the foreseeable future. Get another job, go back to school and train for a new profession. Go where there is measurable success and reinvent yourself. Alberta and Saskatchewan expect handouts from Ottawa but they won't get any. It is about time they find out how to fix the mess and move on with a new long-term plan for their provinces and people.
About the author
I think expressing yourself in fundamental and categorical topics help create a more transparent, concise, and educational environment. For me, I like to explain key issues that dominate current events in society and encourage dialogue.