2019 and the Future of Alberta Separatism

By Michael Wagner

The future of Alberta separatism is bright. The anticipated elections of 2019 are likely to result in circumstances that generate increasing support for Alberta independence. With Jason Kenney as Alberta’s premier, and Justin Trudeau as Canada’s prime minister, the stage will be set for a potentially large-scale revival of Alberta’s separatist movement.

In 2015 Alberta elected its first NDP government under Rachel Notley. Later that same year, Canada elected a Liberal government under the leadership of Justin Trudeau, the son of Alberta’s archenemy, Pierre Trudeau. Guided by a common “progressive” ideology, Notley and Trudeau formed an alliance of sorts, working together on their respective agendas, especially policies meant to address climate change.

With the goal of mitigating climate change, both the Alberta NDP government and the federal Liberal government implemented policies to restrict the development and export of Alberta’s oil and gas resources. In terms of progressive ideology, hamstringing Alberta’s main industry has been a deliberate and successful strategy. However, clouds are on the progressive horizon.

Recognizing the suicidal economic nature of the NDP government, most Albertans are desperate for change. The majority are currently looking to Jason Kenney and his United Conservative Party (UCP) to bring about that change by winning the provincial election in 2019.

Kenney is a staunch federalist. However, it is in his political interest to intensify conflict with Trudeau. Trudeau’s policies are harming Alberta, so it is reasonable to try to resist them strongly. In addition to that, though, it is well known that any Alberta premier can increase his or her own popularity by fighting with the federal government. Various premiers have portrayed themselves as the “defender of Alberta” to generate support at home. Even Notley is now attempting to use this tactic, although unconvincingly.

A federal election is expected in 2019. Trudeau has a good chance of being reelected, but with even fewer MPs from Alberta than he has now. The Liberals won four Alberta seats in the election of 2015 but will hopefully lose all four in next year’s election.

In any case, with Jason Kenney as premier and Justin Trudeau as prime minister, tension will be high between Alberta and the federal government. Kenney will likely increase the tension through aggressive opposition to Trudeau’s carbon tax and other federal policies. The resulting conflict could eventually resemble that between Premier Peter Lougheed and Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

If this scenario occurs, it is likely that support for Alberta separatism will grow. Conflict between Alberta and the federal government tends to have that effect. However, Jason Kenney will not be able to accommodate separatist sentiment because of his strong federalist stance. Similarly, Derek Fildebrandt’s Freedom Conservative Party supports a “united Canada.” Therefore, a new organization will be needed to represent the concerns of patriotic Albertans who realize that independence is the only meaningful solution.

With this in mind, Alberta separatists should look towards the future with optimism and plan accordingly.

5 Comments

  1. Singapore will be a good example.How to separate from Canada.Population is pretty much the same.Booming economy. Fantastic medical care.I think,its call “Medisave”Education system compare with Canadian “Is joke”I have Korean friend>He said: What they teach at University in Calgary the is equal to High school in Korea/Singapore!!! He is electrical engineer.If Albertans put emotions on side.I will vote to leave knowing my kids will never economic hostage by Federal government!

    • We have Billions of reasons to Separate – and virtually none to remain. Anyone who thinks Alberta can continue almost single-handedly funding Canada’s Welfare State (and it will only get worse) but can’t manage to function as an Independent country needs to give his head a shake. Everything, from Education, to our Justice system, to Health Care, to Pension income – everything will be better in Alberta than it is now in Canada. With the added bonus of getting our Honor and Dignity back!

  2. Jason Kenney will win, so separatists should work with what they have. Even Kenney agrees that Alberta needs a new deal with Canada. Kenney can be talked into a 1980 style Quebec referendum – where the province is asking for power to negotiate a new deal with Canada – up to and including separation. The referendum would also require a subsequent referendum to actually separate. Although Kenney may not want to separate, this hammer is required for negotiations to be taken seriously. It would be how Trudeau negotiates next that could really add the fuel to the separatist fire.

    • The ONLY way to Separate is to Separate. You need a provincial Party that runs on that platform – you can’t very well avoid the issue during a campaign and then spring it on the voters after an election. Then once that Party forms gov’t they immediately sponsor a Referendum. If you get a clear majority (probably 52, 53%) voting to Separate you can start immediate negotiations with Canada to make secession happen. This is neatly defined in the Clarity Act of 2000.

  3. If you want to wait for a separation party to win power – I think you have a long wait. I am not saying that your campaigning is not worthwhile, but I am saying that you have to work with the situation that you have now. After the NDP mistake, there is not way the UPC won’t win. Within that reality, you must use your influence to push Kenney and at the same time increase support for separatism.
    They key is to leverage the power and resentment that exists now. After Kenney wins, he needs to be convinced to negotiate a better deal with Canada (that part shouldn’t be that hard). To give him maximum leverage, a referendum needs to be called (likely early 2020) that gives Kenney full power for these negotiations, and to negotiate anything from minor changes to full separation – the larger the mandate for the negotiations, the better his negotiation power. This referendum would require another referendum if separation is the option (ensuring it’s passage against a still somewhat reluctant population). The first referendum gets Albertans to start thinking that true separation is possible. When the Rest-of-Canada ridicules Alberta and negotiates in bad faith (as she did with the NAFTA negotiations), then an outraged Alberta would be conducive to the final separation vote (maybe in early 2022).
    There will never be a more antagonistic PM in power than we have now. You want to make sure that some progress towards separation is made, and not just waiting until separatists get power. The 1st referendum is the 1st step. With Trudeau’s continued antagonism, the second referendum could be a reality.
    There will also never be a more inept PM in power than we have now, so you want ensure that a separation vote could be held in the next mandate (both Trudeau’s and Kenney mandates almost overlap) and negotiations could be held with the proven incompetent Trudeau government.

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