Pipes are seen at the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain facility in Edmonton, Alta., Thursday, April 6, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

Oil would still be landlocked under ‘Wexit,’ experts say

B.C, or Canada, could still stand in the way of exporting oil to the coast

International trade experts say it’s a pipe dream to think the landlocked oil-producing western provinces would have an easier time getting their product to international markets if they were to split from Canada.

“Wexit” — an apparent play on the word ”Brexit” used to describe the United Kingdom’s planned departure from the European Union — was trending on social media after the Liberals secured a minority government in last week’s federal election, but were shut out of Alberta and Saskatchewan.

Peter Downing, a founder of the western separatist movement that wants a referendum on separation, has said an independent country in the middle of the Prairies could leverage the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea to gain coastal pipeline access.

“We have more freedom as an independent country to get our resources to the coast than as part of Canada,” he said the day after the election.

“We’ll have the best of both worlds: We’ll keep our money and we’ll have access to the coast.”

The UN convention, adopted in 1982, does say that “landlocked states shall enjoy freedom of transit through the territory of transit states by all means of transport.”

However, it goes on to say that terms “shall be agreed between the landlocked states and transit states concerned through bilateral, subregional or regional agreements,” and that transit states have the right to ensure their “legitimate interests” aren’t infringed upon.

“It’s not an unqualified right. They can’t just say, ‘OK, we need to get through here,’” said Silvia Maciunas, a fellow at the Centre for International Governance Innovation in Waterloo, Ont.

“They have to talk to the other state, which would be Canada.”

The “means of transport” in the convention refers to railways, waterways, roads and even porters and pack animals, but the treaty specifies that landlocked and transit states would have to agree to add pipelines to the list.

Landlocked countries such as Ethiopia and Switzerland have long had agreements to use ports in other countries.

Bolivia, on the other hand, lost its ocean access in a war with Chile in the 1800s and has been fighting to regain it ever since. The International Court of Justice in The Hague ruled last year that Chile has no obligation to engage in talks with Bolivia.

“Had the court ruled in the favour of Bolivia, Chile would have theoretically been obligated to enter into ‘good faith’ negotiations, whatever the heck that means,” said Carlo Dade, director of the Trade and Investment Centre at the Canada West Foundation.

“You can imagine how that would play out up here if Alberta, Saskatchewan leave … We’ve seen enough out of B.C. to know how that would play out,” said Dade.

The British Columbia government has resisted, primarily through court actions, the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion that would triple the amount of crude shipped between Alberta and the Lower Mainland.

Add to that there is no real enforcement mechanism through the international court, Dade said.

“The only thing the ICJ gives you is the ability to go from saying, ‘Please give us access’ to ‘Pretty please give us access.’”

READ MORE: ‘The West Wants Out’: Wexit rallies planned in Alberta as separatist momentum grows

Lauren Krugel, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

87-year-old Lacombe resident ‘Grandpa Bill’ goes viral on TikTok

Bill Clark’s video has had nearly 300,000 views on the platform

Town of Castor to open tenders to replace garbage truck

Council decided to purchase a used rear load garbage truck to replace the existing the one

Only 13 new COVID-19 cases confirmed by Alberta gov’t Saturday

There’s currently only two active cases in province’s central zone

Central Alberta naturalists fear pristine headwaters will be contaminated by coal mine

Chutes of the Ram constitute one of Earth’s ‘most beautiful’ spots

Every Albertan eligible for COVID-19 testing

22 new cases confirmed on Friday

QUIZ: Test your knowledge of the world of summer sports

In a typical year, there are plenty of summer sporting events and tournaments held across Canada

COVID-19 cancelled their wedding plans, so they married on a B.C. mountaintop

Ceremony was live streamed to friends and family around the world

International student worry about pandemic as decisions loom on travel to Canada

Zohra Shahbuddin is weighing whether to enrol this fall or put off coming to Canada until next year

How finding a ministerial home for CMHC caused ‘madness’ in November

The Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. manages the national housing strategy

‘What do we do now?’ Labour dispute at Regina refinery nears 6 months

About 700 unionized workers were locked out by refinery owner, Federated Co-operatives Ltd., Dec. 5

Police need more than an unverified tip to avoid drug-case entrapment: top court

Police need more than an unverified tip to avoid drug-case entrapment: top court

N.S. police received warnings in 2011 about man who would become mass killer

N.S. police received warnings in 2011 about man who would become mass killer

Trudeau acknowledges ‘anti-black racism’ in U.S., with ‘work to do in Canada’

Trudeau acknowledges ‘anti-black racism’ in U.S., with ‘work to do in Canada’

Want a mask with your Big Mac? Alberta handing out masks at drive-thrus

Want a mask with your Big Mac? Alberta handing out masks at drive-thrus

Most Read