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Is Wexit what the people want?

sheelagh matthews
Sheelagh Matthews/Best Interest

 It’s a few days post-election and all this talk of Western separation, or #WEXIT, is making my head spin. As for reasons why the West might feel alienated from Ottawa’s power and control, the major one everyone is talking about has to do with getting the West’s petroleum products to market.
But, just what kind of pain would a #WEXIT situation bring upon Alberta? How much risk are Albertans willing to take for doing what we want with our oil and gas resources? And is that risk calculated on a short-term or long-term basis? Just to be clear, by “we” I am referring to the people of Alberta; not the big corporate oil and gas companies operating in Alberta, several of which are either owned outright or partially by foreign interests.
Research of some major Alberta oil and gas players came up with these foreign-owned results. Canada’s Imperial Oil is 70 per cent owned by the American company Exxon Mobil; Syncrude’s partners include two Chinese state-owned enterprises, namely the China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC) and Sinopec Oil Sands Partnership; Nexen was bought out by CNOOC, and since January 2019 has taken on the CNOOC name; Harvest Operations became a wholly-owned subsidiary of Korea National Oil Corp (KNOC), a company wholly owned by the Government of Korea; and Repsol Canada, formerly Talisman Energy, changed its name to reflect its new owner, the Spanish company Repsol. So much for “Canadian” oil and gas, eh?

Just because a company has oil and gas operations based in Alberta, it doesn’t mean it has Albertans’ best interests at heart. The only thing you can say about a corporation for sure is that it has its shareholders’ best interests in mind. And when those companies are state-owned enterprises, you can bet they care about their own country’s best interests; not ours.
Unfortunately, it seems to me that “we” might refer to what corporations want for Alberta instead of what people want. Yes, of course, people want jobs and it is corporations we look to for a lot of those jobs. But, politicians would be well advised to remember that “we” properly refers to the wishes of the people who call Alberta home, and not its resident corporate entities. Corporations, we should remind ourselves, can be quick to come at the smell of opportunity and profit, but even quicker to leave at the prospect of liability and loss.
So, just what do Albertans want for Alberta? Do they really want to see their province separate from the third largest (by area) country in the world? (The USA is slightly smaller than Canada.) Do they really want to risk our nation's water supplies, our most valuable resource of all? According to the United States Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), “Canada has more fresh water than any other country and almost 9 per cent of Canadian territory is water.”

Which brings me to ask, is anybody talking about the impact that #WEXIT might have on our water, whether it be Canada's or Alberta's? Would separating make our water resources more vulnerable to privatization, pollution, and bulk export? After all, petroleum products aren't the only things that flow through pipelines. When it comes to our nation's fresh water, what if it's a case of united we stand and divided we fall? If there were ever a time to say Canada was in troubled waters, it's now.

Eau, Canada! Standing on guard for thee during these turbulent post-election times—now that’s in our best interest.
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