Every few months, I seem to get a weird collection of emails. They always come in clusters. They are usually anonymous and eerily concise. Alberta should separate, they read. The province should join the U.S. I can always trace the root — someone, somewhere has posted the Q&A-style interview I conducted last year with Peter Zeihan, a geopolitical analyst who argued that a secession crisis in Alberta was inevitable.
There are two things to keep in mind about this interview. The first is that many of these shadowy responses seem to infer my own support for Alberta separatism from this piece. That’s wrong. The second, is that Zeihan and I chatted when oil prices were high and pipeline capacity was hard to come by. A little has changed since then.
But not everything. Oil prices are down, yes, but not opposition to pipelines. The nation has dumped the hardline pro-pipeline rhetoric of Stephen Harper and even Alberta has adopted a sunnier stance since the election of Rachel Notley. This province has made considerable overtures to the rest of Canada, and specifically to its concerns about the environmental effects of the oil sands.
Notley introduced a widespread carbon tax and a 100 megaton hard cap on greenhouse gas emissions from the oil patch. Frankly, it would be difficult to ask much more of this province.
Yet pandering to anti-pipeline sentiment remains a popular way to score a few points in the rest of Canada. First it was Christy Clark, demanding B.C.’s fair share of the oil bounty cut. Most recently it was Montreal mayor Dennis Coderre, who, thankfully, seemed to soften his stance after speaking with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
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