Could Alberta, Canada become the 51st state?

A new billboard that has appeared in Edmonton, Alberta (home of the Oilers hockey team) asks Albertans the question, “Should Alberta join the USA?”

For those of you who are unfamiliar, Alberta is basically the Texas of Canada. It is the largest producer of oil and natural gas in Canada and Alberta accounted for nearly 82 percent of Canadian oil production in 2018. Alberta also has large reserves of coal, and every year, it holds one of the world’s largest rodeo called the Calgary Stampede.

Like Texas, Alberta is also very independent, and the movement to separate from the rest of Canada has been growing since Justin Tredeau was narrowly re-elected Prime Minister of Canada. This movement for a Western Exit, or “Wexit,” was co-founded by a man named Peter Downing, who sponsored the billboards.

According to the Edmonton Journal:

“Downing believes Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s vision for Canada is going to “spell our economic death in Alberta” and that joining the United States would solve Alberta’s economic and political problems.

He said the billboard, which will be up by Monday morning, is designed to make Albertans aware of their options if they choose independence from Canada.”

The movement for independence is growing due to frustration with the liberal energy and environmental polices enacted in Canada. Canada imposes a carbon tax on its citizens, which increases the cost of living for all Canadian families.

Canada also has something called equalization payments, where people who live in successful provinces are taxed at higher rates than those living in less successful provinces. This wealth is then redistributed to poorer provinces. Because Alberta produces oil, they pay in far more money into the federal government than they get back. In fact, Albertans only get back 60 to 70 cents for every dollar they send to Ottawa. In contrast, other provinces receive billions of dollars on the backs of Western Canadians.

This is why the Wexit movement is growing. The Edmonton Journal continues:

“Simply put, [western separatism] was a far out concept just last February, but now Western separatism and Alberta separatism, Alberta independence, is very, very mainstream, and it was designed that way … and the American statehood option is designed exactly the same way.”

On its website the Alberta USA Foundation argues that America “has all the freedom, job prospects, and investment capital” Albertans want.

“Here’s your choice, accept Canada’s socialist Green New Deal … or have everything that we want, but we just have a different flag by the legislature,” Downing said.

The Journal also reports that  a recent poll showed that 20 per cent of Albertans think the separation of Western provinces from the rest of the country is a good idea and 26 per cent more could “live with it.”

Separation is unlikely to happen with Alberta, but the frustration that Western Canadians feel about the wealth transfers they send east are similar to the frustrations of Minnesotans on the Iron Range who see the mining industry funding the vast majority of the revenue in the School Trust Fund, only to see most of that money sent to the Twin Cities. According to a 2018 article in the Mesabi Daily News, now the Mesabi Tribune:

“Of $31 million distributed in 2017, 52% went to metropolitan area school districts, according to Aaron Vande Linde, director of Minnesota School Trust Lands.”

Adding insult to injury is the fact that liberal environmentalists in the Twin Cities continue to oppose the environmentally responsible development of Minnesota’s copper-nickel resources. Similar frustrations occur in Alberta, where the federal government has played politics with permitting oil projects.

The urban-rural divide is an international phenomenon. It will be interesting to see how it plays out over the coming years.