Montréal, 19 février 2000  /  No 56
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Scott Carpenter is a young entrepreneur living in Victoria, B.C. and the founder and editor of Liberty Free Press
by Scott Carpenter
          Canadians are used to hearing about the separatist movement in the news. It's become such an integrated part of our lives that to a certain degree we might feel lost without the prospect looming somewhere on the political horizon. But these days separation isn't quite what it used to be. Separation used to mean Quebec looking for a way out of confederation but not anymore. These days the talk of separation comes from the west. Well... the north west to be precise.
          Living next to a strong Albertan economy can be a difficult task at the best of times but for British Columbians living near the border it can be an absolute nightmare. That's why business owners in the Peace District of British Columbia are yelling separation or bust. In fact they not only want to separate from British Columbia but they want to join Alberta. That's why last week in the sleepy northern community of Dawson Creek dozens of business owners met in the downtown core, waving an Alberta flag and carrying a sign that read: « Smile if you like what you see Ralph! » As the old saying goes « If you can't beat ‘em join ‘em! » 
The Alberta Advantage 
          As many westerners already know Alberta has no sales tax and, on average, has a lower income tax rate as well. So even during good times it can be difficult for BC border towns to compete with their Albertan counterparts. Add to this problem a draconian new set of Anti Smoking Laws in British Columbia and you suddenly have a recipe for revolution; Mix a few hundred over taxed business owners with a wealthy untaxed neighbour, stir gently with new legislation that makes business more difficult and presto! We have a separatist movement! 
          Needless to say the government spin doctors have been fast at work doing their best to make this into something less than what it is. The provincial Minister of Finance has been on local radio addressing the situation. Ottawa and Victoria can't understand why there is all this talk of separation? The Peace District of British Columbia creates 40% of the provinces GDP. They ask « With all the oil and gas the region has it is one of the wealthiest areas of the province. » « Besides, » bemoans Provincial Finance Minister Paul Ramsay, « the Peace was cut a good deal a few years ago when it got a bunch of money through the province's Fair Share program to fix its roads. » 
     « Mix a few hundred over taxed business owners with a wealthy untaxed neighbour, stir gently with new legislation that makes business more difficult and presto! We have a separatist movement! » 
          Wait just a minute Mr. Ramsay! Let's think about this for a minute shall we? The Peace district creates some 40% of the provinces GDP... that's almost half in an area with a population of under one hundred thousand residents. If we make so much money here (did I forget to mention I am a resident?) why do we have to beg Victoria for OUR money to fix OUR roads? Who really needs who here? 
Who needs Who? 
          I'd like to submit that in fact we don't really need Victoria at all and that in fact it's Victoria who needs us. The provincial and federal governments attempt to quell this movement before it begins reminds me of the vampire who's bride, after having most of the blood sucked from her dying body and having believed that she needed her demonic lover just to get along in life, suddenly awakens from her trance and promptly realizes it's quite the opposite. 
          North western residents are slowly waking up to the fact that the government, regardless of how benign or benevolent its intentions may seem, is not there to help us. In fact without our consent it cannot exist at all. Slowly but surely small groups of Canadians are realizing this and are removing that consent one step at a time.  
          So this brings us to the real reason why Victoria is scrambling to downplay this movement. Fear. What will happen to British Columbia if it's most economically healthy victim decides to throw off it's parasitic grasp? One can only dream. 
          But what's Ottawa's stake in downplaying this movement? It's simple. They're afraid of a domino effect. If one district goes then maybe another will and the next thing you know, BC is reduced to nothing more than the lower main land and as one protester so eloquently put it: « If we join Alberta and the Federal Government gets on our case then maybe we'll have to consider making a whole new country! » 
          This push for redrawing provincial boundaries marks a turning point in Canadian attitude. For once Canadians aren't revolting over something as trite and irrelevant as language or race. This time it's a matter of principle. Lower taxes, leave our private property alone and get the hell out of our lives. Love 'em or hate 'em you gotta give these westerners an « A » for tenacity. Let's just hope they can carry the ball the whole nine yards. 
          To a brave new world! 
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