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Commentary: Separation would pose many questions

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Frank Dabbs is a veteran business and political journalist and author. File photo

Would Albertans be better off in a new country independent from Canada if the province separated, with or without other Prairie provinces?

The pollsters say that the majority of Albertans are angry to have another Liberal federal government, but only 30 per cent want to pursue separation.

According to Leon Craig, University of Alberta emeritus professor of political science, an independent Alberta with a population of 4.37 million would be bigger than 100 other countries and roughly equal to New Zealand’s 4.78 million people.

Craig says that Alberta would be as economically and politically viable as Norway, Finland, Denmark, Sweden, New Zealand and other small, advanced countries, plus it has more natural resources than most.

With a GDP of US$250 billion, Alberta would rank 48th among the world’s 233 national economies.

We know that Canada’s political chattering class does not like Alberta. That’s not new.

In 1885 Louis Riel was executed for his “treason” of wanting an independent nation as much as for shooting Thomas Scott.

"We tried Riel for treason," a juror said, "And he was hanged for the murder of Scott."

The first Canadian politician to fight for fair and equal treatment in Confederation for the West was Frederick Haultain.

Haultain led the fight for responsible government in the colonial North-West Territories as a member of its legislature from 1887 to 1897. When the region won responsible government, he was premier until 1905 when Alberta and Saskatchewan joined Confederation.

Haultain wanted a single province called Buffalo but the Liberal prime minister preferred a weakened West, and split Buffalo into Alberta and Saskatchewan.

Creating an independent country in the 21st century raises many questions.

The overarching question is would Buffalo be better off as an independent nation? Or is independence for corporations and the wealthy?

What would happen to universal health care? Would it become multi-tiered, highest level of care for those who could afford it?

Would education be adequately funded? What would happen to the public sector unions?

Would the Canada Pension Plan stop payments to Albertans and what would replace it?

Would we have a flat tax? What would Buffalo’s agriculture policies be?

What would happen to NAFTA? Would Alberta oil get to the Pacific coast?

Would we sell our water to the U.S. and would they demand it?

What would happen to the federally-owned Trans Mountain Pipeline?

Would Buffalo have a northern pipeline route to Hudson’s Bay or the Beaufort Sea?

To cross international borders pipelines would need agreements between Alberta and the U.S. or Canada.

Access to the Pacific coast through Washington State or Oregon would face stiff environment opposition from the coalition that is campaigning to protect Washington's Puget Sound and the Oregon Environmental Council.

Craig recommends a minister of independence preparation to answer these questions.

Meanwhile, Jason Kenney should say whether or not stoking separatism during the federal election campaign was demagoguery or what he really thinks.

– Frank Dabbs is a veteran business and political journalist and author.