Alberta has better reasons to Albexit than Britain did for Brexit – by Jack Mintz (Financial Post – December 19, 2018)

Whatever negatives Alberta would face are easily swamped by the positives that would come with separation

Last week, I was in England to attend an Oxford conference on the noble but almost hopeless notion of international tax co-ordination. Far more exciting was discussing with colleagues and following the media coverage about the U.K. Conservatives’ confidence vote testing the leadership of Prime Minister Theresa May over Brexit.

May managed to hang on but, at best, her agreement with the EU for an orderly Brexit is on life support. Of 317 Tory MPs, 117 backbenchers voted to oust May. They were especially dissatisfied with the “Irish backstop.” That proposal, which May negotiated with the EU, would require all of the United Kingdom to remain bound to the EU customs union for years after March 29th’s Brexit deadline.

That would last until the U.K. and EU can agree on a plan to avoid installing a hard customs border between the independent Republic of Ireland, which is staying in the EU, and Northern Ireland which, as part of Britain, is Brexiting. Hard borders have a bad history in that part of the world.

But while remaining in or leaving the EU raises important political and economic issues for Britain over tax, immigration, trade policies and more, the decision is not an existential threat to Britain’s independence, which will endure no matter what international agreements the government makes or breaks. Such is not the case in Alberta, where interest in separation — you might call it an Albexit — is growing quickly.

The possibility of leaving Alberta oil wealth in the ground, while world demand — already at 100 million barrels per day — keeps growing at a robust 1.5 per cent each year, is an existential threat to the province.

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