By Nathan Barton
In the last commentaries, I’ve discussed the potential for expansion of the Fifty States – de jure and not de facto (as American forces straddle the globe today). In the last commentary, we looked at the politics and potential for adding new States in various ways.
Let us continue that discussion by zooming in on the Canadian Provinces as prospects for new American States.
Canada is an anomaly, and has been badly fractured for years. In reality, it is actually more like six different nations:
- British Columbia and the Yukon on the west.
- The Prairie Provinces (Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba) and the Northwest Territories (Yukon might be considered here instead of with BC).
- The Maritime Provinces (New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island)
- Newfoundland and Labrador
Unlike the Fifty States, the Provinces are NOT “sovereign” even in theory, BUT their right to secede has been endorsed by court decisions.
The six regions are divided by culture (and language as part of that), economics, and especially by geography. Each of these six nations actually has ties with the Fifty States as close or closer than with each other in terms of economics and geography. The vast majority of Canada’s population is very close to their southern border.
And as I pointed out, Canada is not well. It is badly fractured, and its reason for existing (“We are not the United States,” to sum it up) has faded. In many ways, all of Canada (even Quebec) is more tightly integrated with the Fifty States than each other. Whatever Ottawa may think, claim, and hope.
Indeed, in 1948, still independent Newfoundland and Labrador (a Dominion within the Commonwealth equal with Canada, Australia, etc.) seriously considered applying for admission to the Union. It decided to join Canada by a vote of just 53%.
Quebec has tried to secede for decades, unlike the rest culturally and historically. But it has never quite gotten enough votes to do so, in part because the Canadian FedGov (“Ottawa”) has constantly come up with ways to appease and bribe them to stay in. Language concessions, economic concessions, and outright bribes to the Province have kept it in.
So far. While angering others.
The Prairie Provinces, especially Alberta, are very unhappy. The compromises to keep Quebec sit ill with Alberta and others, who pay for it, and do not share the demographics of Quebec (and Ontario). And the Prairies are “conservative,” with close ties to the Great Plains and Upper Midwest.
Even the Maritime Provinces (compared to dominant Ontario) are conservative. However, they are small. Together they have only 1.8 million people; tiny Prince Edward Island has just 140,000. And they have close ties with New England.
British Columbia is a Pacific (and pacific) nation, with close connections to Washington and Oregon, even California. Indeed, most of BC’s populated area was once part of a joint US-British colony, the “Columbia” territory.
Ontario is dominant (and the home of the Loyalists who fled from the Thirteen States and fought off the invasion in 1812-1814 by US forces). But even it has very close ties with the Great Lakes States. The border crossings between Detroit and Windsor are perhaps the world’s busiest. The Great Lakes are an amazing geographical feature with enormous economic impact.
If things finally reach a breaking point in Ottawa and Quebec goes its own way, it is far more likely to join the EU than the US, of course. But whatever it does, the rest of Canada is probably doomed. If Quebec does NOT leave, and Ottawa makes too many concessions, Alberta (which already has a strong independence and republican movement) may up and leave. Even with 4 million people, the landlocked nation is unlikely to survive without some sort of alliance, or association, with the Fifty States. (I think a union of BC and Alberta is unlikely to succeed. In addition to significant cultural and economic differences, BC has a slightly larger population and would try to dominate Alberta.) With Alberta gone (even if BC can remain), Ottawa cannot find a way to appease Quebec. The entire thing then unravels.
Putting aside most emotions, the remaining three to five parts of Canada find their best hope in the Fifty States.
BC could probably go on its own. But its ties would almost certainly lead to some kind of ties with the FedGov (DC), like so much else in the Pacific, de facto or de jure.
Alberta could also become another Puerto Rico or American Samoa, but would probably do best asking for admission to the Union. The other two Prairie Provinces are very likely to do the same. Each of them has more than 1 million people, and would probably be “purple enough” to get Congress to approve.
Ontario has the best chance, especially in an updated USMCA free-trade agreement, of making an independent go of it. And due to history, the most likely to reject any thought of admission to the Union. With 13 million people, it is maybe too big for Congress to stomach, anyway.
Quebec will be Quebec. While not as bad as France itself, and nowhere close to being another Algeria, Niger, Haiti, or whatever, I don’t think either DC or Montreal could accept such a thing.
The Maritimes might be able to be admitted as a single federated State to the Union, to balance Alberta (blue and red) politically in DC. It might make sense for the half-million Newfoundlanders to join with them, as they are unlikely to be admitted on their own.
But there is clearly some potential here, if things get really bad worldwide. And if things get really bad in North America (a break-up of the Fifty States, say), it is very likely that Canada’s provinces would also break up and at least ally themselves, if not form new unions, with various of the Fifty States.
So, what else is there for FedGov expansion beyond Canada, Mexico, and the Carib? We’ll see in the next installment.