The western independence fantasy

Western alienation appears to be at an all-time high in Canada.

It’s a concept we’ve heard of time after time. People in Western Canada feel like they’ve been left behind, and that the federal government is playing favourites with Ontario and Quebec.

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And there is something to those complaints. Most of our prime ministers in our country’s history have been from those two provinces. Those in the east often thumb their noses to political leaders from the west.

Even the number of senators for Western Canada (24) is dramatically lower than the rest of the country.

And while western alienation was at its lowest level in decades during the reign of former prime minister Stephen Harper, there were still plenty of times in which the west should have felt like it was getting the short end of the stick.

The frustrations of the west have boiled over in recent weeks. We’ve seen the Yellow Vest Movement protests in many communities, lambasting Prime Minister Justin Trudeau over the carbon tax, his government’s handling of the energy sector, and the support for the United Nations migration plan.

There was the unforgettable truck convoy protest in Estevan on Dec. 22 that saw 427 semi-trailer units roll through the city, with large crowds gathering to witness it and even to cheer for the truckers. Other communities have also had convoys.

While they might be a traffic and a noise nuisance to some, people who complain about the convoys have to remember they are going to bat for our communities.

This frustration is going to boil over in the west on election day in October. The odds of the Liberals gaining new seats in Western Canada will be slim. And the seats they have in the west are at risk, even that of party stalwart Ralph Goodale, who has been an MP in Regina since 1993.

The resentment of Trudeau’s government has also led to renewed calls for western separation.

It could be argued the separatism sentiment is now stronger in the west than Quebec. The desire for separatism in Quebec is likely at its lowest level in the last 60 years. The last referendum on the issue was in 1995; there haven’t been any calls for a referendum in a long time.

The federal and provincial separatist parties in Quebec have also bottomed out in terms of support.

Meanwhile, in Western Canada, we’re telling Trudeau and his government that we’re mad as hell, and we’re not going to take it anymore.

But western separatism runs into a serious problem when you consider these provinces don’t have the population necessary to sustain an independent country.

Think of it this way: Ukraine is the largest country that is entirely contained within Europe. Obviously, Russia is the largest European nation, but much of its territory falls in Asia.

Anyways, all four western provinces are larger than Ukraine. And the population base for an independent Western Canada would be less than 12 million people.

Yes, the west is rich in resources, but you still need the tax base from the population to sustain it. And if the west is to include the three territories, then operating an independent Western Canada would be even more impossible than it already would be.

The protests that have been happening in the west have shone a light on some serious issues. They have gained a lot of attention, and have galvanized the people.

But if you’re expecting that this is the start of an independent Western Canada, you will be mistaken. 

© Copyright Estevan Mercury

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