Chapter 8. How to counter common arguments against independence.
Landlocked is not hamstrung.
A common, shallow argument made against western independence is
to claim, “You would be landlocked!” How awful! Why, we could end
up just like Switzerland, only with massive reserves of natural
Landlocked nations are nothing new and being landlocked doesn’t
mean, by any measure, a nation will be poor or dysfunctional. Austria
is doing well. Hungary and Slovakia are coming along, too, after
having shed the yoke of socialism. Having a coastline doesn’t ensure
stability or prosperity for a nation.
How well have things been working
out for Venezuela, or most African nations? Is Bangladesh nearing
prosperity and has Vietnam enjoyed a history of peace?
A coastline is certainly an advantage for a nation, but it doesn’t
guarantee poverty or riches, peace or conflict. The system by which a
nation is governed is far more important than its geography.
Let’s imagine for a moment Saskatchewan and Alberta both seceded
and united as a new nation under a new system. It would be critical to
the collective economy that natural resources reach foreign markets
and, yes, the new nation would indeed be landlocked. Why, though, is
it assumed Eastern Canada, BC, or the US would block the export or
import of goods and services?
Secession will surely come with some hard feelings and there will be
bumps in the road as new trade agreements are formed, but it’s absurd
to assume the rest of Canada would be so bitter and self-destructive as
to blockade the new nation.
If BC decided to block Alberta and Saskatchewan from getting goods
to the coast, the new western nation would of course immediately
retaliate by blocking BC’s goods from crossing to the East. It would
cripple its ports and decimate its economy. Canada’s remaining
provinces in the East would be in a crunch, too. The impasse wouldn’t
last long, if indeed it ever happened at all.
European nations have trade disputes all the time, but they don’t
blockade and starve their neighbours in order to resolve them. It would
be too harmful for all involved and modern nations simply don’t do
that anymore. The US certainly wouldn’t want to get into a trade mess
by refusing the exchange of goods and services and the flow of people
from the new nation. Economic reality trumps hurt feelings. Just look
at how Europe continues to buy Russian natural gas while condemning
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
There are international accords established to deal with landlocked
nations that could be appealed to at an international tribunal, if it ever
came to that. Canada itself could face trade sanctions from other
nations if it acted unfairly against the new western nation.
International trade relies on these agreements being respected and
other nations wouldn’t support Canada’s attempts to starve its new
neighbour into submission.
Let’s not forget we are already landlocked. Canada has allowed
Quebec to dictate pipeline access and has been hostile to western
efforts to seek alternative markets through eastern coastal access. Our
Confederation is already dysfunctional since provincial governments
hinder goods from other provinces under present policies. There is no
free and open trade of oil—or even beer—in Canada. If anything, a
new nation might have more leverage for potential trade agreements
with regions than it did while within Confederation.
The case against independence holds no water on the basis the new
nation would be landlocked.
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