The subject of western separatist sentiment has been receiving a lot of attention since the election. Western fossil fuel companies, like Encana, are increasingly decamping to Texas and other points south. But the fossil fuel industry is not the only resource industry struggling in this today’s Trudeauvian era of unreasonable environmental regulations and aggressive Indigenous “duty to consult” demands.
Manitoba’s mining industry is a shadow of its former self. The smart money is moving elsewhere, and along with it our best and brightest.
So, the idea that there is an immediate threat of western separation misses the mark. Instead, what we are already experiencing is a slow bleeding of capital, expertise, and our best people to Trump’s America — a country that has no plans to shut down its oil and gas or mining industries.
In fact, America has gone from being an energy importer to an exporter in less than 10 years. It welcomes the Calgary oil and gas experts, who are now moving their $25,000,000 rigs south.
It also welcomes Canada’s senior mining personnel who have given up on even trying to navigate through the years of expensive Indigenous “duty to consult” negotiations that often end in either outright failure or just more years of litigation.
The people who leave will also not have to deal with politically-motivated environmental requirements, such as Bill C-48 (oil tanker ban) — designed to keep Alberta landlocked. American requirements are stringent, but not impossible. That country welcomes development, today’s Canada turns it away.
And, any government that these people deal with down there will not be a government that insists that the “climate crisis” demands that the entire fossil fuel industry be shut down. Climate change is treated as the serious issue it is, but not as an “emergency” or “catastrophe.” So the ex-pats will be freed from that albatross. They will have to meet reasonable environmental requirements, but not the totally impossible ones now at play in Canada. They will be treated as what they are — important people in important industries.
As for Indigenous “duty to consult” claims on public land, there is simply no such thing in the United States. Development on reservation land is certainly subject to consultation and compensation — as it should be. But there is no equivalent there to the new Canadian reality that reserve residents must be paid for any use of Crown land (that belongs to all of us).
So, vital Canadian fossil fuel and mining people will be lost to Canada — taking their money and expertise with them. But, most distressingly, these achievers will take their children with them.
And it probably won’t be immediate separation that occurs — rather, a slow bleeding. The children of those people who leave will go to American schools — and most will of them probably not come back.
Will all of this eventually lead to separation? Who knows. But what is certain is that we are all diminished by what is already happening. John A. Macdonald saw what was necessary to keep the west tied to the east, and he did his best.
But he hadn’t counted on Ottawa’s ruling green utopians.
Republished from the Winnipeg Sun.
Brian Giesbrecht is a retired judge and a senior fellow at the Frontier Centre of Public Policy.