The Globe And Mail runs something about Alberta's gripes every day, and I try to follow along. If it weren't for wmtc's resident Albertan, and the ensuing arguments in comments, I would've had no warning. It's not something Americans know about. As is, observing for more than a year, I have only the smallest of clues.
Here's what I know. Please pardon my ignorance and oversimplification, but I have to start somewhere.
The province of Alberta is rich, because it has oil.
The province of Alberta is conservative, relative to the rest of Canada. Hmm. Funny how those two go together.
Because of its great oil wealth, Alberta revenue helps fund services in the rest of Canada. (These are transfer payments?) Apparently many Albertans resent this. They want to keep Alberta's money in Alberta. They don't want the rest of Canada to have as many "social programs" (very broad term there) as it does now, or they want them to pay their own way.
I don't get this.
Canada is a country. There is oil in one place and not another. A place with high revenues from oil reserves can help balance lower revenues elsewhere. What's wrong with that? Should the provinces be treated as separate countries, and take a sink-or-swim attitude towards each other? (What is it about conservatives and "states rights"?)
It's not as if the people of Alberta are somehow more talented than the rest of the country, and have become rich off their peculiar talents. It's the geology upon which they happen to live. If I were typing this in Calgary instead of outside Toronto, how would that make a difference? Why should I keep the wealth of the land simply because I live there, rather than more equitably distribute it throughout the country?
I've caught a tremendous amount of anger from Albertans towards the rest of Canada, and talk of secession. I can't say I understand it. Once in an earlier post, I remarked, they act as if Albertans are the only people who pay taxes. I pay taxes, too. What am I missing here? Why all this anger and bitterness?
I understand that every resident of Alberta will soon receive a $400 "prosperity cheque", a piece of the great windfall in their province's coffers. To me this sounds suspiciously like the $600
Here's a view on those Albertan cheques. It's very funny, especially now that I understand the provincial stereotypes.
So here are my questions, folks: What's up with Alberta? Why do Albertans want to secede? Should the threat be taken seriously? What would make them happy? That is, what kind of Canada would they like to be living in?
I'm looking forward to reading your answers, from many different points of view. I ask only that you be reasonable and refrain from personal attacks. That is, no posts that begin with "Rob thinks..."