Thursday, October 12, 2023

Wisdom In That Notion

Taking her inspiration from Rene Levesque, Danielle Smith suggests that Alberta should separate from Canada. Max Fawcett writes that -- for the rest of Canada -- that might be a good idea:

On Friday, the Supreme Court of Canada will rule on the constitutionality of the Impact Assessment Act that was triggered by a reference case filed by the Alberta government in 2020. While the Alberta Court of Appeal ruled the federal legislation — better known as the former Bill C-69, or as conservatives like to call it, the “No More Pipelines Act” — intruded on provincial jurisdiction over the development of natural resources, the Supreme Court is expected to view the federal government’s appeal of that decision more favourably. If it upholds the constitutionality of the Impact Assessment Act, as most legal scholars expect, we’re going to see a nuclear-grade meltdown coming out of Alberta.

It’s a safe bet people like Alberta Premier Danielle Smith and her various proxies in the local media will start by going after the court, which they’ve long complained has a supposedly Liberal bias. Never mind, of course, that its chief justice was appointed by one Stephen Harper — for them, this will be another opportunity to undermine its legitimacy and politicize its judgments. That’s especially true given that Russell Brown, the most Alberta-friendly of the nine Supreme Court justices, stepped down from the bench earlier this summer after the Canadian Judicial Council began looking into his disreputable conduct during a recent vacation. Let the conspiracy theories begin.

It’s an even safer bet the Alberta separatist movement will use the decision to add fuel to its long-simmering fire. Witness Take Back Alberta’s David Parker, who tweeted recently, “Alberta will not obey Ottawa’s draconian climate virtue signalling. If they attempt to enforce it, we will separate. If you don’t believe that is possible, just watch us.”

Separatism -- whether it emanates in Quebec or Alberta -- has always been a pipedream:

The notion Alberta would be better off on its own ignores everything from basic geopolitical realities to the historical example of Quebec, never mind the risks associated with being heavily dependent on fossil fuels right as the world is transitioning away from them. But after years of being a very vocal critic of the movement and its obvious blind spots, I’m starting to have some pro-separation arguments of my own.

An independent Alberta, for example, would put an end to the tiresome and tedious debates around equalization, most of which are informed by a fundamental misunderstanding of how the program actually works. This has been a cottage industry in Alberta for years now, one that’s aided and abetted by politicians and pundits who profit from the confusion. Without them around to chum the waters, the rest of Canada would have more time and opportunity to talk about issues that actually matter.

An independent Alberta would also be forced to bear the full brunt of the global energy transition, one that it has about as much control over as you might over a passing locomotive. For Canada, this would almost certainly be a very good thing. After benefiting from Alberta’s resource-driven wealth and the surplus contributions they’ve made to the federal income tax and social security systems, the country would be free of any downside associated with the global transition away from burning fossil fuels. And the more than $200 billion in unreclaimed environmental liabilities which the oil and gas industry is supposed to pay for and the Alberta government seems utterly uninterested in collecting? That would be an independent Alberta’s problem — and it would be one of many.

No longer would the rest of Canada have a province, and a substantial subset of its population, that’s actively working against its shared interests and priorities on climate change. The citizens of an independent Alberta would also benefit since its political leaders would no longer be able to blame Ottawa and the federal government for all of their woes. As masters of their own destiny, they would suddenly be accountable for their choices and the consequences that flowed from them.

This alone might be enough to deter any provincial or federal conservative politician from taking the idea of separation too seriously. They’ve been dining out for more than 40 years now on a sense of victimhood and injustice perpetrated by shadowy eastern elites, which they use to distract the public from their own political failings. To give up that familiar crutch would mean they’d finally, for the first time, have to stand entirely on their own merits. They, more than anyone else, might prefer to keep the status quo intact.

In the end, Quebecers decided to stick with the devil they knew. There is wisdom in that notion.

Image: The National Post


Anonymous said...

At some time after AB separates, when events are overwhelming the politicians and TBA crowd, AB will become the 51st state.
One has to wonder what the AB provincial politicians and the leadership of TBA are getting in return for stirring up disgruntlement and disunity in AB. DJF

Owen Gray said...

Becoming the 51st state would be going from the frying pan into the fire, DJF.

Toby said...

" . . . AB will become the 51st state."

That's assuming that the Americans want Alberta. I'm inclined to think the Yanks would cook up a quasi arrangement such as they have with Puerto Rico.

Owen Gray said...

And, if Donald Trump is president, Toby, he'll throw Albertans rolls of paper towels.

Anonymous said...

There is virtually no support for a separate Alberta; I doubt 1 person in 20 in the province would ever vote for it. It just something the chattering classes like to natter on about. Besides, even if they did leave Canada, they would end up as part of the United States. The Americans would end up annexing the province, like they did with Texas. AD

Owen Gray said...

That's a hopeful sign, AD. It sounds like Smith doesn't have much of a political future.

Northern PoV said...

"It sounds like Smith doesn't have much of a political future."

Her e-coli scandal (or some similar, subsequent screw-up) might do that.

The Joan-of-Arc 'sovereign Alberta' stuff (as a grievance, not an actual exit plan) has a rosy future, alas.

Owen Gray said...

It all depends on who leads the movement, PoV. Smith has a talent for shooting herself in the foot.

Anonymous said...

In addition to “shooting her self in the foot” I add “gives the impression she is, too often, an unthinking Ditz”. Similar to Christie Clark, Doug Ford, Jason Kenney, Boris Johnson, et al. DJF

Owen Gray said...

These days, that seems to be part of what it means to be a conservative, DJF.