Who doesn’t remember being a teenager wanting to move out of their parents’ house?
The thought of being on your own, independent of the rule makers and basking in the glow of being an adult is enough to make young people giddy.
Unfortunately, the day comes where they realize that growing up isn’t as easy as we thought it would be. You have to pay for your own food, clean your own house and cut your own grass. Instead of answering to your parents, you are now answering to the bills, chores and responsibilities of the world.
Some will strive in that pressure, as they were ready and did the legwork necessary to strike out all on their own. Others will be knocking on their parents’ door in a few weeks or months, asking for either a little more money at best or to move back in at worst.
As I have quietly watched the ongoing musings about Alberta separating from Canada, I have had this feeling that this province might have the means to actually pull it off, but has no idea how to actually make it happen. It’s like the teenager who worked to save some money, then yelled at mom and dad for not treating him fairly all these years and is moving out tomorrow.
The only problem: he didn’t bother to find a place to rent or buy, a vehicle to get places or brush up on life’s essentials.
And that’s why I can’t take this separation talk seriously. Not yet, anyways.
I haven’t heard one single plan on what becoming our own entity would entail, other than to “send a message to Ottawa about the raw deal we are getting.”
We can argue until we are blue in the face about how fair that deal is and how long that deal has been in place for.
I am here to speak only about what kinds of things are missing from this great plan of independence.
Who’s going to pay?
Let’s start with the big one — ocean access for Alberta’s energy.
If we became our own country, how do you think this would solve the problem of getting oil and gas to tidewater? If you don’t think Ottawa is listening to us now, what makes you think Ottawa will listen once we pull out of confederation?
Does becoming our own country give us more bargaining power? Or do we start cozying up to US President Donald Trump in hopes he will grant us our every wish? Because last time I checked, we will still be landlocked.
That’s not all missing from the list. What happens to our Indigenous communities? Are we prepared to see all federal funding cease and start footing the bill on our own?
Nascent national defence
Another area of interest is in national defence. We have CFB Suffield, CFB Wainwright, 4 Wing Cold Lake and others. In theory, “Old Canada” would relocate those resources to other bases around the country. So what are we doing to cover that?
Speaking of national defence, are we ready to start negotiating deals to become part of NATO and other alliances Canada has that we have suddenly departed from? Do we institute our own border security teams? What about our airports?
WATCH: New Alberta separation group meets in Calgary
When we talk border security, we have to talk about transportation, particularly the Trans-Canada Highway. Will we be allowing free-flow traffic from the east and west? Will we be charging tolls?
From there, we get into trade. Do we continue to honour current interprovincial trade deals we have or are we really going to stick it to our former neighbours and charge tariffs for anything coming in? And what happens if Canada does the same thing?
While we are on the subject of money, what are we going to use? Do we want our own currency or should we continue using Canadian cash? Maybe we could go really old school and bring back the British pound.
I am just scratching the surface here.
It’s the lack of an actual plan that is making Brexit look like a joke right now.
Emotion versus logic
It is one thing to want something based on emotion. It is another to want something based on logic.
And I get it. It is hard to take the emotion out of it right now and Albertans showed in the provincial election that they are miffed.
Now that the federal election campaign is gearing up, the rhetoric has ramped up to a fever pitch with stories about how independence could be a possibility. But is it really?
All it sounds like to me is, “Vote for our party of choice or we are moving out!”
What if the rest of Canada doesn’t buy in? What happens if the Liberals somehow muster up enough support to pull this off, despite the gongshow they are quickly becoming?
Anyone vouching for independence should be trying to answer all of these questions sooner rather than later. Otherwise, Alberta will be knocking on the mom and dad’s door, wondering if we can move back in for a while.