Separatist sentiment is back. This time in Alberta, with the installation of two billboard advertisements.
The ads have been put on display in Calgary and Edmonton. They ask the question “Should Alberta ditch Canada?” and link to Alberta Fights Back, a website promoting a province-wide referendum on separation.
Campaign director Peter Downing compared Alberta’s situation to an “abusive relationship” adding “We are getting robbed blind on our taxes to send our money to Eastern Canada.”
Western frustrations have been voiced with increasing volume since the downturn in the oil and gas sector began.
In the eyes of many Albertans, the federal government has not been doing enough to help prop up one of the country’s largest industries.
Angus Reid poll
An Angus Reid poll released earlier this month found that 73 per cent of people living west of Ontario believe Western Canadian anger and resentment toward the federal government is on the rise.
Asked about the likelihood of Alberta separating, roughly 30 percent of people considered it possible, with 70 percent saying it was “highly unlikely” at best. In Alberta, the pollsters recorded a 50-50 split.
Jason Kenney United Conservative Party leader vouched against separatism but admitted he wouldn’t be surprised that a “significant and growing minority of Albertans” were interested in the idea.
Ted Morton, a former provincial cabinet minister who called on the Alberta government to replace the RCMP and Canada Pension Plan with made-in-Alberta alternatives in the early 2000s, told CTV Calgary he considers negotiation a better solution than separation for the Alberta-Ottawa relationship.
“If this is the status quo and this is separation, there are lots of opportunities in-between – but to move from the status quo requires that the government of Alberta initiate a challenge to the status quo,” he said.
Alberta Fights Back is a registered third-party advertiser for the upcoming Alberta election.