Canadian Politics from Canada's Centre

Friday, August 04, 2006

Canadian Politics Interview: Canadian-Politics' Jo McNair part 3

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We're running a series of interviews with Canadian political bloggers regarding their opinions on the state of Canadian politics. Canadian-politics.com's Jo McNair has been sharing her thoughts with us over the past couple of days, and today she tackles

Separatism


This issue is normally couched in the old "Quebec vs Canada" discourse, but I see a new form of separatism growing in this country. Perhaps separatism isn't the right word - shall we call it "separateness"? And again, it has its roots in regional disparity.

Over the past few years, there has been a growing attitude among Canadians in certain provinces to really bunker down and give a collective finger to the rest of the country. This is especially prevalent out west - namely in Alberta. You see it in discussion forums, on blogs, letters to the editor - comments from readers from the west discussing their fellow Canadians and the "have-not" provinces and essentially dismissing them as lazy bums who have only themselves to blame for not being as prosperous as Alberta and complaining that it's time these people stop living large off the fat of Albertans.

Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty has fanned these same flames in Ontario with his constant complaints that Ontario is getting screwed over by Confederation - his famous $23-bn shortfall. The result of this is very evident on forums such as Globe and Mail reader comments, for example. More and more Ontarians wanting to wash their hands of the rest of the country, or at least, wanting an end to programs like equalization since it would be best to let the poorer provinces "fend for themselves."

I'm not implying that these attitudes are held by the majority of people out west and in Ontario, but they are more and more common and while they might not hold the same level of threat as yet another Quebec referendum on independence, in some ways, I think they're a bigger threat. In the past, had Quebec separated, what would be left of Canada would have been, arguably, a much more cohesive, unified population. The old French-English divisions would be, for the most part, gone. Consequently, I never really believed those who argued that if Quebec separated, the rest of the country would quickly fall apart. However, the new sort of separateness, or retrenchment, with people in one province concerned only about their own little fiefdom and showing little, or no interest in and concern for, their fellow Canadians in other provinces, is something else - and far more dangerous.

If Quebec separated today, I can see the rest of the country falling apart - or at least Alberta and maybe even Ontario deciding to go their own way as well. How can any national government hope to formulate national policy when there is no sense of nation left? How can we introduce changes that the country needs, if people ( i.e. the provincial premiers) aren't at all interested in what is best for the country as a whole?

Of course, my dream of no provinces would solve this problem as well...

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Here are some related articles:

Canadian Politics Interview 2
Canadian Politics Interview 1
Canadian Political Bloggers Interview Series

This article and related articles are archived in the topical categories , Canadian federalism, , and .

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