Albexit? Some political parties call for Alberta’s secession from Canada
Published Saturday, March 30, 2019 9:35PM EDT Last Updated Saturday, March 30, 2019 10:22PM EDT
As Alberta’s provincial election campaign enters its final weeks, all of the political parties are tapping into the anger and frustration of voters who feel that they’ve been short-changed by Ottawa.
But some of them are going a step further than promising to create jobs and reverse the deficit, and advocating instead for the province to separate from Canada.
“I am tired and I believe most Albertans are tired of being treated as a second-class colony,” said Derek Fildebrandt, the leader of the Freedom Conservative Party of Alberta.
So, too, is Dave Bjorkman, the leader of the Alberta Independence Party. The party’s main policy platform is Alberta’s secession from Canada.
Bjorkman believes that the long-divisive system of equalization payments – a federal government program where “have” provinces give money to Ottawa to distribute to “have not” provinces – is unfair.
“Alberta gets the shaft all the time,” he said.
Many experts don’t expect any of the separatist parties to garner many votes when Albertans head to the polls on Apr. 16, but they say that the anger about the federal government that they are tapping into is real and widespread.
A recent poll from the Environics Institute found that 71 per cent of Albertans feel their province does not get the respect that it should.
“We know that anger is pretty significant and most of that anger is currently focused on Justin Trudeau and the federal government,” said Lori Williams, a policy studies professor at Mount Royal University in Calgary.
Many people in the oil-rich province are upset about stalled pipeline projects and Bill C-69, the federal government’s proposed law to overhaul environmental assessments that is now before the Senate.
Colleen Collins, the vice-president of the Canada West Foundation, helped put the Environics poll together. She said that Albertans became particularly sensitive when the price of oil plunged and tens of thousands of jobs were lost.
“There was a sense of Albertans saying, well, maybe there will be some help from equalization, but it doesn’t work that way,” she said.