World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Alberta separatism

Article Id: WHEBN0002040033
Reproduction Date:

Title: Alberta separatism  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Index of Alberta-related articles, Canadian identity, Party of Alberta, Nunavut Land Claims Agreement, Eeyou Istchee James Bay Territory
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Alberta separatism

Alberta (orange) shown within Canada (beige)

Alberta separatism is a movement that advocates the secession of the province of Alberta from Canada either by forming an independent nation, or by creating a new union with one or more of Canada's three other western provinces.


Alberta separatism arises from the belief held by some that Alberta is culturally distinct from the rest of Canada, particularly Central Canada and Eastern Canada, and from the belief that Alberta is harmed economically by federal policies that disadvantage Alberta. In the past, tariff walls to promote the growth of tractor production in Ontario increased the cost of tractors for Alberta. In the 1980s, the National Energy Policy was seen as disadvantaging Alberta's interests. The Alberta economy had been traditionally based on ranching, and in the last years of the 20th century, been bolstered by considerable revenues from oil and gas production. Alberta has developed a political culture that is more conservative, in both economic and social issues, than the rest of Canada.


Separatism emerged in the 1930s within the Social Credit Party, which formed the Government of Alberta. The Government of Canada, at the urging of the banks and newspapers in Alberta, overruled legislation passed by the Alberta legislature to implement a form of social credit as being unconstitutional. Premier William Aberhart's followers started calling for separation from Canada, but Aberhart himself counselled moderation and rejected secession. The separatist movement was ridiculed by the media as a fringe movement of the uneducated.[1]


In 1980, a separatist movement emerged in western Canada that attracted thousands of people to rallies and resulted in the election of a separatist to the Alberta legislature.[2]

During the 1980s, when the National Energy Program (NEP) was created by the federal government under Liberal Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, support for Alberta separatism reached levels that (as of 2012) have not been matched since. Gordon Kesler was elected to the Legislative Assembly of Alberta in a by-election in Olds-Didsbury as a candidate of the Western Canada Concept party (WCC).[3] In response, Premier Peter Lougheed called a snap election in which the party nominated 78 candidates in the province's 79 ridings (electoral districts). Although the party won almost 12% of the popular vote (over 111,000 votes), Kesler was defeated after changing ridings, and no other candidate was elected. The party's popularity declined after the Progressive Conservative Party, led by Brian Mulroney, defeated Prime Minister John Turner as in the 1984 federal election although the WCC still managed a strong third place showing in another by-election in Spirit River-Fairview held in 1985.[4] Under Mulroney, the NEP was rapidly dismantled.


Political events in the early 21st century have led to a resurgence in interest in Alberta separatism. In the 2004 federal election, the governing Liberal Party of Canada was returned with a minority government despite allegations of corruption. 61.7% of Albertans voted for the opposition Conservative Party and 22.0% of Albertans supported the Liberals. There is also significant opposition within Alberta to the Kyoto Protocol as the Kyoto treaty has been believed to have negative effects on the provincial economy, which is heavily supported by its powerful oil and gas industry. Alberta contains the world's second largest proven reserves of oil, behind only Saudi Arabia.[5]

Despite these events, Alberta separatism is still a minority movement. As of 2014, no elected political parties or Members of the Legislative Assembly (MLAs) in Alberta favour secession.

In the 2004 general election, the Separation Party of Alberta nominated 12 candidates who won 4,680 votes, 0.5% of the provincial total. No candidates were elected. This was less support than the Alberta Independence Party had attracted in the 2001 election, when 15 candidates attracted 7,500 votes.

Support in conservative parties

The Conservative Party of Canada, under Ontario-born, University of Calgary educated Stephen Harper won a minority government in the 2006 federal election, leaving the separatist cause with uncertain prospects, at least for the short term. Some pundits have predicted that this result will cause support for separatism to ebb away.

The notion of Alberta secession from Canada has gained sympathy from some figures within Alberta's conservative parties. Mark Norris, one of the contenders to succeed Ralph Klein as the Alberta premier, told the Calgary Sun in March 2006 that under his leadership, if a future federal government persisted in bringing in policies harmful to Alberta such as a carbon tax, "(Alberta is) going to take steps to secede."[6]

Also, some politicians and at least one poll have indicated that a much larger percentage of the Alberta population may be at least sympathetic to the notion of secession than would be indicated by election results. In January 2004, Premier Ralph Klein told the Canadian edition of Readers Digest that one in four Albertans were in support of separation. An August 2005 poll commissioned by the Western Standard pegged support for the idea that "Western Canadians should begin to explore the idea of forming their own country." at 42% in Alberta and 35.6% across the four Western provinces[7]

See also


  1. ^ Howard Palmer, Alberta: A New History (1990) p 272
  2. ^ Bell, Edward. "'Separatism and Quasi-Separatism in Alberta," Prairie Forum, Sep 2007, Vol. 32 Issue 2, pp 335-355
  3. ^ Elections Alberta
  4. ^ Elections Alberta
  5. ^
  6. ^ Calgary Sun 19 March 2003
  7. ^ Kevin Steel, "A nation torn apart: An exclusive Western Standard poll shows more than a third of westerners are thinking of separating from Canada. What's dividing the country--and can anything be done to save it?," Western Standard August 22, 2005 online

Further reading

  • Bell, Edward. "'Separatism and Quasi-Separatism in Alberta," Prairie Forum, Sep 2007, Vol. 32 Issue 2, pp 335–355
  • Larry Pratt & Garth Stevenson Western separatism: the myths, realities & dangers (1981)
  • Michael Wagner. Alberta: Separatism Then and Now (St. Catharines, ON: Freedom Press Canada Inc., 2009) 138 pp, favourable account that concludes, "The odds of Alberta actually leaving Confederation are remote, at this point." However, he adds, "in my view, separatism has a future."

External links

  • Republic of Alberta
  • Free Alberta
  • Alberta Republicans
  • Project Alberta
  • Separation Party of Alberta
  • "On the Trail of Alberta Separatists," By Joe Obad, Alberta Views, March-April, 2004

This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Project Gutenberg are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.