Politics - Federal

Uncivil War (of Words)

By Jason Leach
Published September 27, 2005

Is there a civil war in Canada's future?

Probably not, but likely some harsh banter and serious separation talk. No, not from Quebec, but the West. As a recent study by TD Economic's confirms, western Canada stands to weather the upcoming energy crisis much easier than those of us in Central Canada.

The reason, quite simply, is due to the abundance of energy supplies in the West combined with energy-intensive manufacturing uses in Central Canada. Another factor that can't be ignored is the horrendous proliferation of suburban sprawl in southern Ontario and Quebec, which will certainly feel the hit as prices rise.

Mind you, many suburbanites could help their own cause by not running their air conditioners at 19 degrees all day long and not choosing to buy the biggest, gas-wasting SUV that comes out every few years.

Beyond that, the job sector is going to really take a hit in southern Ontario. We have become completely dependent on exporting to the U.S., which has worked fine in recent years due to our low dollar and their refusal to actually make anything in America anymore. However, their economy is much closer to collapse than ours, and the effects will be felt in Canada -­ specifically Ontario.

Recently, grumbling has begun to come out of Ontario regarding the windfalls that are sure to grow in upcoming years in Alberta. The suggestion has been made that Alberta should pay us some of that windfall since 'it's pure luck that landed them in oil'.

For the record, Alberta does pay into a national program with some of their oil money, and let's not forget that they are a part of Canada. Having our own oil will put us in a slightly better position than the U.S. in the future. That is, if Alberta and B.C. don't get fed up with this country and decide to bail to America.

The more Ontario whines and starts making ridiculous demands from the West, the more likely they are to say 'we've had enough. It's time to move south.' Don't think for a moment that the U.S. isn't just waiting for the perfect time to come alongside Western Canada with some sweet offers to join their country and bring them some much-needed oil.

For those of you who think I'm crazy, let's chat in twenty years. I'd be shocked if we don't end up traveling down this road.

Anyone who's ever spent time out West will know that they have felt alienated and cut off from the rest of Canada for years. I mean, until the last federal election, folks in B.C. could turn on their TV and see who the next Prime Minister was before even going to vote. I'd feel like my voice doesn't really count either.

I find it rather arrogant and ignorant of Ontarians to start crying and bellyaching about Alberta's newfound wealth and prospects for growth. If you study the growth of most major cities and countries in the world, you will find that natural resources are almost always what propels that growth and success, until of course, the resource is spent and the economy shifts to a manufacturing or high tech base. Ontario is no different.

Ontario was lucky to be right next door to the largest industrial sector in the U.S. many years ago. Niagara Falls just happened to be here, enabling us to become the first region in Canada with electricity. In fact, Hamilton had electricity before any other city in Canada.

Our mining industry in the North, along with vast amounts of water and lumber, were major factors for our early growth in Canada. We secured our position as the dominant region thanks to our abundant natural resources and wise developments - such as the railroad offering quick connections to New York, Quebec, and the US Midwest.

We have enjoyed several decades as Canada's economic engine. We have no right to turn on Alberta simply because their natural resources are allowing them to surpass us and become Canada's major region for the foreseeable future.

Keep in mind that if expert predictions are correct, Alberta will be devastated in the future as the oil economy really begins to collapse and leaves scattered remains of once-successful cities and regions all over the world that were dependent on the resource.

It would be better for us to at least have them in our country instead of losing them to America in the meantime.

Jason Leach was born and raised in the Hammer and currently lives downtown with his wife and children. You can follow him on twitter.


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