Kenmare ND - Upside Down Under

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Upside Down Under

By Marvin Baker, a new weekly column in The Kenmare News


Is 'Wexit' the answer?...

Posted 11/26/19 (Tue)

There’s a movement going on across the border in Canada that is becoming quite serious and if it ever comes to pass, could change history.

For years there’s been a separatist movement in Alberta. It’s been kind of quiet. Every once in a while someone will speak up at a convention and then it dies down again.

But ever since the federal election on Oct. 21, western separatists have become quite vocal and are actually claiming their new country as “The Republic of Western Canada.”

This has happened before in Canadian history, and one would think the nation learned a lesson in October 1995 when a federal election for Quebec to secede from Canada failed by only 1 percent of the vote.

Had that happened, there were all kinds of possible scenarios, none of them would have been good for Canada or the United States.

Now, it’s happening again. This time it’s Alberta and Saskatchewan pushing the federal government’s envelope. You’re probably wondering why?

It turns out that Justin Trudeau was re-elected as prime minister on Oct. 21. Trudeau, like his father and former prime minister Pierre, is a liberal and isn’t very well liked west of Dryden, Ontario.

Manitoba, however, appears to be neutral on the subject.

Farmers, ranchers, oil developers and even the mining sector are fed up with the Trudeau government not listening to their needs. And apparently, there is a law in Canada, I’m not certain about this, but the oil-rich province of Alberta, has to send money east to help Quebec because its economy isn’t doing so good right now.

I guess I’d be upset too, if that were the case. Even though it’s heavily populated, Quebec has unlimited natural resources, farmland, factories and shipping.

I just kind of passed all this “Wexit” stuff off as nothing new, but when a friend who’s a Winnipeg radio personality started talking about, it, the threat suddenly became “real.”

If the Republic of Western Canada happens, it would have lasting implications for North Dakota, primarily because Saskatchewan, one of the provinces favoring separatism, would become part of the new country. Trade deals, negotiations and sales of farm machinery, fertilizer, technology, etc., would have to start all over again.

Manitoba would remain in Canada, and as we all know, the provincial border meets the North Dakota border near Antler, or about 60 miles north of Minot.

So do we continue to trade with Manitoba while negotiating new deals with Saskatchewan? It would certainly throw a monkey wrench into North Dakota’s export plans.

And how about tourism? Whether you go fishing in Flin Flon, catch a Blue Bomber game in Winnipeg or just like to shop Polo Park Mall, things would change.

They’d be really different in Saskatchewan and Alberta. Nobody knows what would happen. Leadership hasn’t been established, nor have rules, so they just might decide to stop American tourists from visiting Banff National Park, going to the races in Estevan or shopping at West Edmonton Mall.

We can talk about possible scenarios until we are blue in the face, but we do know there would be change and it would affect North Dakota.

Working in this state as a journalist for the past 33 years, I’ve come to find out there are a lot of Canadians living in North Dakota, especially along the northern tier and how would a Wexit affect them?

I personally know Canadian citizens who are living in Minot, Langdon, Bottineau, Kenmare, Devils Lake, Grand Forks, Williston and Bismarck. All of them grew up somewhere in western Canada so their world could change drastically.

Canada, or what’s left of it, and the Western Republic, would always be at odds with each other. There would be little compromise, and although it wouldn’t be as bad as Quebec as a country would have been, it would be like a major asteroid hitting the Northern Hemisphere.

Secession in the United States is illegal, however in Canada, it is a real possibility because the vote in Quebec in 1995 was a razor thin margin of people’s discontent with Ottawa.

There is a simple solution to all this. Justin Trudeau needs to listen to his constituents in the west and compromise on some economic deals that are damaging the west.

As I write this article, Trudeau and Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe are discussing Saskatchewan’s departure from Canada.