By Nikki Jamieson
Last week I heard a crazy-stupid-wonderful idea.
We’ve all had crazy-stupid-wonderful ideas. Usually we come up with them when we’re having fun while out with friends, in the middle of the night when you can’t sleep or are considering a change from the mundane. They are amazing to have, even if the chances of them actually happening are just shy of zilch. Starting a band (even if none of your friends can sing or play an instrument), impressing that stuffy professor on your very first university paper and back-packing across Europe by yourself for a year are examples of some common ones.
While none of these might come to light, sometimes they do lead to similar things, such as joining a tour group to travel through a few different countries or taking music lessons. And sometimes, that crazy-stupid-wonderful idea you have actually does come true. It’s rare, but it happens.
Last week, Canadian author Ken McGoogen had a crazy-stupid-wonderful idea. For those who don’t know McGoogen, he’s the author of ‘How the Scots Invented Canada’ and ’50 Canadians Who Changed the World’. As one might figure by the book titles, his crazy-stupid-wonderful idea involved both Scotland and Canada.
Before I go further, let me give a little background. Remember that back in 2014, Scotland held a referendum on whether or not to seek independence from England, and ended up with voting ‘No’ with about 55 per cent of the vote.
I personally was a bit surprised by this, I mean they were an independent country for centuries before King James VI of Scotland became King James I of England, where they joined under a personal union until Oliver Cromwell took over, when they became united under one government. It wasn’t until 1707, when the Kingdoms of England and Scotland joined to create the Kingdom of Great Britain, which later united with the Kingdom of Ireland via the Acts of Union 1880 — although most of Ireland left in 1922, leaving Great Britain with just Northern Ireland.
But Scotland voted no, and so stayed as one big (somewhat) happy family, until the Brexit vote. Again, I was surprised, I mean, who wouldn’t want to stay as part of a partnership that allows you to travel more freely, work more freely and trade more freely?
But the Scots are a bit livid at the Brexit results. Every last council ward in Scotland had voted to remain in the European Union (EU), but England and Wales voted to leave. This, along with a slew of other issues — broken promises, the Trident nuclear weapons deterrent program, the economy — is leading them to ponder a second independence referendum.
Should this actually occur, McGoogen has proposed an alternative to Scotland seeking independence; why not join Canada?
See? Crazy-stupid-wonderful idea material.
While this idea is about as likely to come true as Quebec is to actually separate from Canada — no matter how strongly some people feel about it — it is a neat idea to consider.
Yes, there is the distance to cross, but really, there is only 3,385 km between St John’s, Newfoundland, and Glasgow, Scotland, while there is 3,976 km between the states of Hawaii and California. So clearly, it isn’t that great of a distance to overcome. Of course we will have to cross the distance, but a flight from Vancouver to Halifax, crossing a distance of 2,756 km, will cost about $675 per ticket, or 4.08 km per dollar. A flight from Calgary to Glasgow, Scotland, on the other hand, costs about $910, or 3.69 km per dollar. While we can expect some mark-up in prices — it costs more to fly in Canada then it does to the U.S. for some reason — it’ll still have a good value.
Although Scotland wouldn’t be the fully independent nation it would like to be, as a province, it would have considerably more freedoms. Provinces are responsible for their own health care, municipalities, education and natural resources — meaning Scotland can control and get a piece of their oil resources action — although they may want to stay clear of the recent grudge match between Alberta premier Rachel Notley and Saskatchewan premier Brad Wall.
Granted, we would have to iron out what the new national food is. While I’m sure haggis, Scotland’s national dish, is tasty, I’m pretty sure the majority of Canadians will insist that poutine is far superior. Maybe they will have a special haggis-poutine as a provincial dish? I know a few foodies who are brave enough to try it, plus nearly everything tastes better with cheese.
And obviously, McGoogen points out that Scotland would not be like the average province, as is the case of Quebec, which was recognized by the Canadian government as being it’s own “nation within a united Canada” in 2006, and has it’s own international relations department to promote the province. Scotland could operate in a similar model.
Scotland becoming the 11th province would also give Canada a stepping stone into European markets. With the conclusion of Brexit, Scotland could also apply to join the EU not as a country of 5.3 million, but as one that is 41.8 million strong with a more diverse market. Who wouldn’t want a piece of that action?
On that note, unless they have immense support from all of the provinces and territories, do you think that our federal government would be pulling out of an organization like the EU, and all the trade, jobs and money that comes with it?
It’s a nice idea to entertain — even if it very, very, very unlikely to be seriously considered by Scotland, no matter how much McGoogen thinks it is a very grand idea and could work. I can’t imagine that a country that is fed up by being run by another country would want to just join another country, no matter how nice we are about it.