David Cameron is the UK Prime Minister whom we can blame for the Brexit mess. Why? Because he set the referendum in motion and was so sure "remain" would win that he didn't consider the consequences of a "leave" vote. He didn't set provision for a second referendum to confirm Britons' desire for whatever deal the EU agreed to and laid the foundation for years of frustration and anxiety that might soon come to an end, only to lead to more uncertainty as the consequences of leaving kick in. For there was no plan for how to leave, and still isn't. Only an intent.
In the wake of Canada's October election, with no Federal Government representation in either Saskatchewan or Alberta, some western Canadians are feeling left out and abandoned by what they see as a Federal government hostile to their dire economic plight. A few have even started talking about WEXIT. This sentiment is concentrated in Alberta where they believe that all four western provinces will want to separate with them. Most serious and sitting western politicians have not jumped on that bandwagon but Alberta's Premier, Jason Kenny, decided to be the first to fan the fires of separatism with a speech to his fellow conservatives. Opening with a remark about his democratic duty to defend Alberta he then listed a number of items that he thinks will do just that. An Alberta Pension Plan - separate from the Canadian Pension Plan. An Alberta Provincial Police Force - replacing the Royal Canadian Mounted Police as the rural police force in the province. A Provincial Constitution - presumably different from the Canadian Constitution but he did not specify how. Enacting a law allowing Albertans to petition for and hold provincial referenda. Only the last two have any bearing on Alberta separating from Canada. The first two would just make it technically easier if they happened before any political rupture. What the four items will do is make Alberta superficially more like Quebec. Albertans will have to decide what sort of constitution they want, which may be contentious enough but the real potential for trouble lies in the ability to hold referendums. His argument that Alberta needs these things seems to be based on the flight of capital out of Alberta that he blames on Federal Government policies.
Some people think referenda are the ultimate expression of Democracy and promote them as the way to settle important questions of the day. Done properly perhaps they can be the fine instrument some believe they are. Problems creep in when fallible human beings acting as politicians write vague or even deliberately misleading questions. Results that are not clear become a Rorschach test for even more politicians to spin to their own ends. The referendum campaigns are ripe targets for foreign interference through social media. They are difficult to get right and the consequences of getting them wrong are serious.
JK's seeming desire to make Alberta more like Quebec ignores the high price Quebec (and Canada) paid for the decades long flirtation with separation. Quebec's economy went from leading Canada to a laggard, as capital and people fled the province out of concern they would one day wake up in a different country. Canada's currency was consistently undervalued, making all imports more expensive. Canada's interest rates were higher due to the uncertainty of the integrity of the nation, making all loans more expensive for everyone. Quebec and Canada paid a high price for that existential debate even though separation never actually passed on a referendum and never actually occurred.
Quebec played with matches and all of Canada got burned for nothing. David Cameron played with matches and they blew up in Britain's face. Jason Kenny just pulled a box of matches out of his pocket and is inviting people to strike. He is irresponsible and small in his vision of his duty to Albertans.