Catherine Ford is a national columnist with the Calgary Herald. In early 2003 she produced, for Opinion Canada, an excellent analysis of the phenomenon of Western Seperatism. She points to a factor that is seldom mentioned in the usual discussions of the issue:
Sarcasm and ridicule aside, there is a serious aspect to the recurrence of separation talk in the West. Much of it centres on both geography and invisible ethnicity and our geographical north-south orientation and our population of ex-patriate Americans, drawn by Alberta's oil industry and Calgary's head offices. They feel right at home here, as they should. Americans have always easily drifted north, from the first cattle drives to an escape from racism; from explorers to draft dodgers. They have always felt comfortable in Calgary where American values are prominent.
It can be argued whether those values-- including, but not exclusively, such traits as self-reliance, market forces, trickle-down economics, pull-up-the-bootstraps attitudes, family values --developed because of early American immigration into Alberta.
Nonetheless, they dominate the thinking of the politically powerful and thus, the voices most heard.
Many in Alberta want the rest of the country to share such values--in effect, to become more American. Not that this is such a bad thing, in and of itself, but the rest of Canada's reluctance leads to outbreaks of separatist thinking.
I never realized the extent to which the Western Seperatist movement was driven by ethnic American immigrants trying to force Canada into the ideological mould of the United Stats.
But we do tell old Mohammed with the turban that he's going to put away the old values when he comes to Canada. Why isn't it appropriate to tell Bubba with the cowboy hat the same thing?