Alberta Politics

Even in Wexit, you can’t take it with you

Deirdre Mitchell-MacLean

Everything would be wonderful if Alberta and Saskatchewan separated from Canada, they say. They’d have billions of dollars, they say. And B.C. would let them build a pipeline for port access (insert record scratch here).

Sure, it probably wouldn’t be all wonderful and it probably wouldn’t be all horrible (I’m unconvinced of the latter). However, let’s look at some of the possibilities;

  1. The billions only follow if the wealthy people pay the same tax rates.
    Albersask’s tax rate would have to be at least 37% in order to keep those “billions we pay in equalization”. Those billions don’t belong to Alberta, they belong to the people who make the money; and if they don’t want to support retired Maritimers or underprivileged Quebecers, they probably don’t want to support Albertans who aren’t pulling their weight either.
  2. B.C. will let you build a port.
    There’s a slightly Machiavellian feel to this one. Something about, if you aren’t subject to Canadian laws, you can shut off the taps without reprisal. Except you want a port. B.C. can bring in oil and gas imports through its coast and also through pipelines from Washington. I’ll let you decide if this is a win.
  3. No Flames, no Oilers, and Saskatchewan has no team to play with.
    Sure, we’d still be part of the nation, that is North America, but would two of our favourite hockey teams bother to stay in a third country if Wexit happens? Worst-case scenario, they stay and every game is the battle of Albersask and it gets pretty boring pretty quickly.
  4. Immigration – you need a lot.
    Saskatchewan has managed to grow its population by around 140,000 over the last 60 years. Even though the province welcomes more than 10,000 babies each year, 600,000, minimally, over the years (though it’s probably closer to a million), more than two-thirds of the native-born Saskatchewanians refuse to live there. So Albersask either needs a giant wall to keep them in, or be willing to open its borders to massive immigration. Who’s in??
  5. What’s in a mortgage?
    Where is your mortgage? Your savings? Your investments? Are they with your local Credit Union or Alberta Treasury Branch? If not, when the Canadian financial institution has to pick up its Eastern-owned pennies and leave, they might just demand your mortgage in full – or own your house. Actually, no, your house probably won’t be worth near what you paid for it – they’ll probably figure out a way to let you keep making payments.
  6. Your money is only worth as much as other people say it is.
    Here’s the tricky part: you want to turn off the taps to B.C. to force them to build you a pipeline making it near impossible to sell your oil, which is your main commodity. You want to use the Canadian dollar but you’re sucking the worth out of it and you want to use the American dollar but if your oil isn’t flowing and so the differential is growing. The U.S. thinks you’re too much of a liability, so, you introduce Ralph bucks but they aren’t worth jack outside of Albersask and you completely Venezuela yourself.
  7. Treaty 8 (aka Where the Oil is) I like to think Wexiteers have learned more about Treaty land than most in their adult years. First Nations are not flocking to Wexit in the numbers originally expected. In a statement released last Tuesday, Treaty 8 Grand Chief Arthur Noskeye said “Treaty 8 holds the third-largest resource of bitumen in the world. Perhaps Albertans should work together with us on a strategic approach to change the way the Alberta government does business whereby everyone benefits from this industry.” That’s a third-degree burn on the “mine! It’s all mine” narrative.
  8. Football.
    What if they wouldn’t let us play in the CFL? Do we really want a rotating schedule between Calgary, Edmonton and Saskatchewan? More importantly, would they stick around and let us watch?
  9.   NO MORE CBC!
    The People’s Party will be thrilled to finally be rid of the publicly-funded broadcaster. Also, no more federally-funded local publications, unless Albersask decides to fund something. Maybe we should prepare for a resurgence of the Blackfalds Spotlight-eque town newsletters.
  10. International Student Status
    Your kids will be relegated to the UofS, UofA, UofL and UofC, Mount Royal, RDC, Lethbridge College, Med Hat College, Lakeland College, NAIT, SAIT, Keyano College etc. B.C., Ontario, Quebec, Nova Scotia and all the rest will require international student status and that comes with a price tag – generally double or triple what residents pay. Granted, you’ll pay more if your kids attend those institutions anyway, because they aren’t residents, but not as much as international students. No biggie for people who are paying $15k for kindergarten, but might be a big deal for those who aren’t.

These are only some of the issues (or benefits) that I could think of with little to no research. Commentary welcome; snark appreciated.

This post is an opinion.

Deirdre is a reporter, pundit, podcaster, and full-wit political observer raising four independent thinkers in rural Alberta.   

contact: dmaclean@countersign.ca, hello@politicalrnd.ca

Twitter: @Mitchell_AB for all the commentary; @thisweekinAB for posts; @politicalRnD to guess “who tweeted that”?

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