by Bob Orrick
Volume 3, Number 15
Original article can be found here:
It has been common knowledge among those resident in BC and the Prairies that, in their view, they are not well served by Ottawa. It does not take much scratching ‘Out West’ and ‘on the Coast’ to learn rather quickly that Ottawa is seen more as an enemy than as a friend. Enemies are not well liked in the Western region of Canada. The recent poll confirmed that point.
Among British Columbians, 69 per cent of respondents said that they are “poorly represented federally.” In Saskatchewan, the number was 70 per cent while in Alberta the figure was almost two-thirds and in Manitoba 53 per cent. Perhaps Manitoba, being closer to Ottawa than its Western neighbours, is less inclined to see Ottawa as a problem. Regardless, Canadians living west of the Manitoba-Ontario border look at Ottawa with a jaundiced eye and claim that they are poorly represented federally. The poll revealed nothing new in that regard.
What was a bit of a shocker is that 72 per cent of Ontarians “support the idea of an elected Senate.” Not only that, but also that 35 per cent of Ontarians said their “interests are poorly served by Ottawa.”
“Respondents to the Canada West Foundation survey were asked if Canada should replace the existing appointed Senate with an elected Senate with equal representation from each province.” The 84 per cent from the West who agreed is not news but the 72 per cent from Ontario who agreed, is news.
Regardless of how much support an elected Senate receives from Canadians, the fact remains that the weight of power rests squarely in the East and specifically in Ontario. It is clear, therefore, that Westerners see little benefit to themselves coming from Ottawa.
The Western alienation is akin to the view of the Westernmost U.S. states that see Washington, DC as far away and out of touch. In a discussion some years ago with Americans from California, they expressed the same dissatisfaction with Washington, DC as I [and other Canadians in our company] did with Ottawa. The words used were similar, the views the same, and the anger and disgust equal. That thought leads one to consider the movement – glacial at the moment – of the Western provinces joining in an economic union with the Westernmost states to form a formidable economic block. The name Cascadia has been promoted for decades.
Cascadia would include BC, Alberta, Washington, Oregon, Montana, and possibly California. Not included but certainly a possible entrant is Yukon. It has been estimated that with California in the fold, Cascadia would wield the economic might equal to some of the world’s established economies. Without California, Alberta, Montana, and Yukon, proponents claim Cascadia’s GDP will be US$32.3 billion [1996 estimate] with a population of 13 million. The language proposed is Cascadese, a dialect of English. The proposed country’s area is 855,762 square kilometres. Not to be outdone by established countries, Cascadia’s proponents have designed a stamp and a flag. An interesting sidebar about the stamp is that printed material states, “Profits from stamp sales go to support the Republic of Cascadia’s struggles against its oppressors in Ottawa and Washington DC. Currently we can not offer to sell these stamps by mail due to conflicts with occupying postal authorities.” Pretty heady stuff!
There is another ‘movement’ out West; this identifies itself as the “Republic of Western Canada” or “WestCan” for short.
Among the ‘Republic’s’ aims are: freedom from bilingualism; no more parliamentary system; an elected republican national leader; an elected senate; an elected congress; and no more ruling elite or ethnic group. Again, some pretty heady stuff.
Further, “In a Republic, we directly elect the leader as governor. This then becomes a United States of WestCan – Republic of Western Canada – a new country. All formal ties to Ottawa and the monarchy would end. No more unelected prime minister.” There are a couple more points but the aforementioned are sufficient to show the seriousness of this proposal such as, “The end of the dictatorship, bilingualism and rampant corruption are the main reasons to consider in the formation of a new Western Republic. The result of these actions by government are a direct threat to our survival!”
Make no mistake; there is a simmering distrust and disgust with and against Ottawa ‘Out in the West and on The Coast.’