The high tariff feature of the National Policy saw 20% tariffs on farm
implements, and was raised to 35% in 1884. The effect of this was that
Albertan farmers had to either pay high duties on imported farm
equipment, or buy the more expensive competitors's goods from Ontario
or Quebec. Albertans were harmed by this policy well until the 1970s,
when the GATT lowered worldwide tariffs.
Freight rates on the CPR monopoly were 50% more expensive in Western
Canada, being more expensive the farther from Ontario the
transportation took place. Freight rates continue to be discriminatory
against the West.
Also, despite 2/3 of the CPR's traffic occuring in Western Canada, only
1/3 of its employees work there.
|Unequal Status Entering
Alberta (as well as Saskatchewan) became part of Canada in 1905. Both
provinces were essentially regarded as colonies. Neither province had
rights to their natural resources until 1930. Every other province had
these rights from their inception. Essentially, both Alberta
and Saskatchewan were regarded as colonies to benefit Canada. It is
quite humorous how the federal government gave up their stake in 1930
because they wrongly perceived Alberta's natural resources as next to
The Borden Conservatives won the federal election in 1911, based upon
their opposition to free trade with the U.S.. From an Alberta
perspective, this protected Eastern manufacturers and made it more
difficult to market agricultural products. It was essentially an
extension of MacDonald's National Policy, which protected Eastern
manufacturers. Alberta farmers were left with the choice of paying high
duties on imported farming machinery or buying higher priced
substitutes from Ontario or Quebec.
Protectionism has disproportionately harmed Western Canada relative to
Eastern Canada. According to the Canada West Foundation, from
1968-1988, the net cost of tariffs to the West was over $5.7 billion.
Over the same period, the gain from protectionism was $6.8 billion in
| The Great Depression
Similar to the argument about the development
of the oil industry, some Canadians engage in revisionist history when
it comes to how Canada helped Alberta during the Great Depression.
How? The Canadian government simply didn't redistribute wealth
yesteryear as it does today.
Alberta was the only province that was allowed to default in Canadian
The protectionist policy of the Canadian government disproportionately
harmed Western farmers.
The only benefit from the Canadian government of any permanent
substance that Alberta received was the ability to control her own
natural resources. Note that every other province, save Saskatchewan,
had that right when they joined Confederation.
Albertans weren't looking for federal handouts. But the revisionist
history that is sometimes forwarded is false. And using it to justify
quid pro quo forty, fifty, sixty or seventy years later is disingenuous
Defaults; No Federal Guarantee
From 1936 to 1945, Alberta default on the
principal of maturing debt, and managed partial coupon payments to debt
holders. The Canadian government apparently guarantees the debt of
other provinces. Should a province go into default, the federal
government is supposed to essentially make the payments. This practice
is quite common, with the federal government backing the debt of
various provinces and other national entities, such as CMHC. The
Canadian government let Alberta default. Nowadays, Alberta has the
better foreign currency credit rating than even Canada.
|Equalization / Transfer Payments
The Canadian government, through equalization and transfer payments,
has stolen over one quarter TRILLION dollars from Albertans. The cost
of staying in Canada in 2003 amounted to $3,158 for every Albertan man,
woman and child. That is over $12,000 for a family of four.
Also worth noting is that this number is multitudes higher than the
amounts various dictators like the Shah of Iran, Marcos or Hussein have
stolen from their citizens. The magnitude of this number cannot be
Canada has a high national debt, which was accomplished by spending
programs Albertans had no political power to change. Albertans, on our
own, have no net debt.
Canada has high taxes. Again, this was accomplished with Albertans
being powerless to alter this situation. And you thought that Taxation
without Representation only affected the American colonies?
Official government statistics measuring Canadian firearm ownership are
questionable at best. Such measurements show an unlikely decline in
firearms in Canada from the 1970s. The rationale for such stats being
questionable range from the federal government trying to portray
firearm ownership in a certain light. The other big issue is that with
firearm control increasing, firearm owners are less likely to be honest
about whether they own firearms.
These stats indicate that Alberta's rate of firearm ownership is
roughly the national average. Other facts don't back this up. The
National Firearms Association is based in Edmonton. Efforts leading the
fight against gun control have originated in Alberta. Western culture
embraces firearms as part of our culture. Many Albertans are employed
as ranchers or farmers, where firearm ownership and usage is necessary.
In other words, stating Alberta has firearm ownership rates that are at
the national average is ridiculous.
Besides the financial cost of white elephants like the Gun Registry or
other efforts, there are other costs to firearm controls. There is a
positive relationship between increasing crime rates and gun control,
as the Lott study on firearm ownership has demonstrated. Note that
recent Canadian crime stats have increased, undoubtedly in part due to
the recent attack on the right to bear arms.
As Albertans likely have higher rates of firearm ownership than
Canadians, these controls discriminate against Albertans.
Being bilingual is a wonderful attribute for any individual to have.
Forced bilingualism is a terrible idea. It infringes upon free speech;
it is costly; it favors certain ethnic groups over others.
|Oil Export Tax and Price Controls
The federal government imposed an export tax
on more than one million barrels of oil per day which Alberta was
selling to the U.S.. It also temporarily froze the price of domestic
oil. In essence, Albertans were subsidizing, once again, Canada's
Ironically, the reason Alberta exports its crude is because federal
governments continuously denied the Alberta request for pipelines to be
extended to Montreal. It was always denied on the basis that it was
cheaper to buy oil from the Middle East or Venezuela. That may actually
be a credible reason. It does make sense to buy from the cheapest
source. And a corollary of that is that it makes sense to sell to the
highest bidder. Canadians were allowed their ability to buy or sell in
their interests; Albertans weren't.
Note that other forms of energy that are exported, namely electricity
from Quebec, are not subject to federal taxes. Also note that the
federal politicians who implement such programs are the rising stars
federally. In this case, we have John Turner as the prime architect of
this program, who later became Prime Minister.
|Foreign Investment Review Agency
FIRA helped kill American investment in
National Energy Program decimated the economy of Alberta in the early
1980, and transfered great amounts of wealth from Albertans to Canada.
|Interprovincial Trade Barriers
Interprovincial trade barriers represent
restrictions on the rights of Albertans to freely trade goods and
services. Despite the Agreement on Internal Trade, such barriers remain
ridiculously high. In many cases, trade is freer to other countries
than with Canada.
|Unelected, Ineffective and
You could make the argument that Canada's
Senate is equal by region, if those regions are Quebec, Ontario, the
West and the Maritimes. This "equality" did not exist in the original
BNA Act, nor did it when Newfoundland joined Canada. One can also make
the case that the regions chosen to be equal are not relevant in order
to give regional protection against federal legislation. In an extreme
example, one could give PEI 9 seats with each of the other provinces
getting 1 seat. Even though you could claim that PEI is a region and
Canada ex-PEI is a separate region, the claim of equal representation
is somewhat lacking.
Canada's Senate is, of course, unelected. Senators are appointed by the
Governor General, though in practice the Prime Minister has this power.
Canada's Senate is completely ineffective. It rubber-stamps legislation
that has passed the House of Commons. Given how Alberta has 3 active
Senators (fewest of any province), and they are all Liberals, the
ineffectiveness of the Senate alone does not matter. The most prominent
time the Senate has acted, it has acted against Alberta's interests.
This occured when the Senate refused to pass the FTA. Not surprisingly,
this was due to politics more than anything else, since the Liberal
appointees controled the Senate.
These characteristics of the Canadian Senate are harmful to Alberta,
because there is no effective regional check against federal
legislation. If Alberta had such a political weapon at her command,
perhaps a National Energy Program would have never come to be.
Alberta, along with BC and Ontario, are unfairly represented in the
House of Commons. Due to the Senate Clause and the Grandfather Clause,
Alberta winds up with fewer seats than it should have. However, Ontario
still controls who gets elected. Alberta does not affect the federal
political dynamic, which is another type of unfair representation.
Given the combination of parliamentary discipline, few representatives
and power over Albertans, Alberta has no say in her own affairs.
|Canadian Wheat Board
Canadian farmers can sell their wheat to whomever they want, provided
they live East of Manitoba. If you are an Albertan farmer, you will get
arrested if you try to do that. Sadly, some Albertans have been
Again, this is another case of Eastern Canadians being able to do one
thing, and Albertans being prevented from doing so.
|Future Threat: Kyoto
Kyoto has the potential to be the most egregious legislation to affect
Alberta since the National Energy Program. Kyoto could possibly wipe
out certain sectors of the oil industry in Alberta.
Note that certain regions are given "credits" for the purposes of
measuring net production of greenhouse gases (except for water vapor of
course - especially for landlocked Alberta). Note that Quebec benefits
from this, because hydroelectricity is considered a "clean" form of
energy. Also note that Ontario's auto industries will be exempt. In
other words, the only place to suffer the consequences of this
legislation is Alberta. It is nothing but an attempt to redistribute
Alberta's wealth to Canada.