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Alberta is rich – the richest territory in the Western Hemisphere, in fact – but its future is troubled. Its demography is far younger than the rest of its co-nationals, making it the only province that can generate local consumption and growth. Its industry is focused upon energy, making it the only outwardly-focused province in Canada. Alberta is, in effect, not simply Canada’s piggy bank, but its only income stream with long-term viability.

And that income stream faces extreme pressure. Albertan energy is sold almost exclusively to the United States, a country that is fast approaching energy independence. Within a few short years, “rich” and “young” Alberta will be facing a tax bill that will wither its economy even as evolutions in the United States gut its export income. Without a massive change in circumstance, Alberta will devolve from one of the richest spots on the planet to something significantly less.

But there is something that the Albertans can do to avoid this fate. Nearly unique in modern nation-states, Canadian provinces can legally secede. Alberta is about to determine the future of Canada – and to some degree, the future of the United States.

For more on Alberta’s predicament and options, see Chapter 12 of The Accidental Superpower.