Thirty per cent of Albertans support the notion of the province separating from Canada, according to a new poll produced by Research Co.
It's a concerning trend upwards as politicians help stroke Alberta's frustration with the federal government. From those growing flames, another separatist party has announced it will begin a provincial tour to raise awareness for its cause.
It's no secret that Alberta has had hard times over the past few years as a prolonged bust in the oil sector meant job losses for tens of thousands and many still struggling to find work or continued to be underemployed. Combine that with rising provincial debt and barriers to pipeline construction, which many Albertans feel would reignite a floundering economy, and it's no surprise that many feel we would be better off on our own.
But would we? Oil prices are in the toilet and there is no indication they will ever reach the booming levels that had Alberta riding high for many years. In fact, for the past couple of years, analysts have been predicting that when oil prices jump above $70 a barrel they will quickly return to $60 or below, which, thus far, has proven correct. That doesn't even consider the much lower sale price of Alberta-produced oil.
How many workers would we lose? Many factors would likely result in massive migration out of the province. New Canadians who came to this country to be part of Canada would likely move out, those fearing loss of worker mobility we currently enjoy across the nation would also leave. Not to mention the outward migration of those from other provinces or Albertans who want to remain Canadians. Remember, separation would not just divide a country, it would also divide families.
Would Albertans remain Albertans? There are scenarios out there that suggest in a situation where Canada and Alberta's relationship after separation is one of animosity that Alberta could become the 51st American state. If so, would our lot be any better than the one Alberta separatists perceive now?
Is this growing separatist support well thought out or more identity politics and gamesmanship that politicians are using to fuel their own agendas? Seventy-two per cent of Conservative voters from the poll support separatism. Is that because they truly believe Alberta is better off as its own country? Or, is it because the discontent for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has reached such epic levels, they would do anything to get out from under his leadership. Could it also be that identity politics has finally hit the stage where blind faith in political ideology is all that matters?
More and more we are seeing a world that is seeking to divide. National unions have crumbled, walls are being built and aggression is increasing. In the past, Canada has always worked to be a voice of unity, peace and freedom. That is what this world needs more than ever now.