BILL McQUARRIE PHOTO Have some thoughts about Bill McQuarrie’s North Island Rising column? Email editor@northislandgazette.com and we will publish it online and in print.

North Island Rising: WEXIT – Paradise Lost

The false promise of a prairie republic.

Albertastan? A make-believe world, created and promoted by those looking to divert your attention and blame from some truly serious issues.

Yes, the chest pounding, swagger talk coming from Saudi-Alberta separatists makes for a good 6-second clip on the news. But seriously, does anyone really believe being a land-locked, mini state of 4.3 million people is going to make things better?

Even if Saskatchewan adds their 1.1 million people to this swaggerville WEXIT concept, it still ends up being a miniature prairie republic with fewer inhabitants than most major cities.

Yes, I hear the, “but we have oil” cry. However, so do a lot of other countries and in most cases, their crude is easier to extract, of higher quality/value and comes with an ocean conveniently attached to their country.

Currently, as residents of Alberta and citizens of Canada, there are three oceans attached to your country, with one of them just a single province away.

And apart from proximity, the prime minister – so hated by many Albertans – made all other Canadians pay $4.5 billion to buy the province an existing pipeline.

He also told – not asked – all taxpaying Canadians to give Alberta an additional $10 to $15 billion to twin that pipeline.

Sure the process has been long and difficult but hey, sometimes that’s life.

In the end, the pipeline expansion will be built on behalf of Albertans and ironically, paid for by all those Canadians so despised by the WEXIT separatists. In the midst of all the posturing, has anyone discussed what will happen to that $15 billion taxpayer infrastructure gift when Albertastan casts off the yoke of Canadian oppression and tyranny?

If people thought negotiating access to a port was difficult when we were all part of the same country, imagine what will it be like when Alberta is a foreign nation? Pipeline-dysfunction and port-envy will look good compared to getting no access for one’s pipeline.

How will Albertastan export oil, grains and beef when access to all markets requires transporting those goods through another nation?

Separate and Alberta is no longer part of Canada’s free trade agreements with the US, Mexico, the EU, South America or any country within the Pacific Rim Trade pact.

What were once trading partners will likely impose tariffs on Albertastan products. And being so small and facing incredible logistical problems, they will be seen as inconsequential and taken advantage of when trying to negotiate new trade agreements.

Equalization payments may start to look like a good deal, especially when Albertastan no longer gets some of it back in the form of transfer payments that once supported healthcare, education and social services.

With less than 5 million people and a dismal track record on royalty management, finding the money to support the WEXIT fairytale is nothing more than a fantasy.

Why would anyone think being their own tiny country with no access to anywhere and a tax base so small it will be unable to support anything, feel leaving is a good and positive step forward?

Separatism is a make-believe world, created and encouraged by those in power who will never suffer the serious consequences of the anti-Canadian deception they so desperately promote.

Bill McQuarrie is a former publisher, photojournalist and entrepreneur. Semi-retired and now living in Port McNeill, you can follow him on Instagram #mcriderbc or reach him at bill@northislandrising.com

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