What is ‘Wexit’? Part Four: Mixed Reactions Across Canada | Tony Peters

This article is part four of a series of articles on the movement for the Western Provinces of Canada to secede from the Union (termed, ‘Wexit’). This article was kindly provided by Tony Peters, and explores the origins of the frustration experienced with the central government from the provinces. 

Canada is a country divided. In reality, there are several areas of divide in the Nation of Canada, but The Western/Eastern split seems to be receiving the majority of the focus at this moment. Many parts of the West are calling for Separation from the rest of Canada. However, it is unclear just which provinces and territories would be included in a Western Separation at this point. Many of the comments on this subject focus on Alberta and Saskatchewan, which seems like the most likely separation situation. There has been increasing talk that most of Manitoba and British Columbia would like to join if separation referendums become a reality, showing the growing support for separation. It does not end there though; a new push has emerged to include the 3 Territories in this Wexit movement. A split of that magnitude would cut the country in half, and could be devastating to the Eastern half of the country. One has to ask then how people across the country feel about the likelihood of Canada separating?

According to a member of the Facebook group VoteWexit.com, he explains what he feels needs is necessary for any separation of the Western portion of Canada to succeed. “For this to succeed, we need to have One Common Vision that everyone can envision, with common achievable goals.” He also points out that the prairie provinces have ample resources, but cautions against allowing “outside controlling forces” to get involved. As his post continues, he explains that this, “Will not happen overnight,” claiming that if it is to succeed it will take integrating policies of tolerance, respect, understanding, compromise, education reform, and care about our culture. Equal representation is a common theme among all supporters of the movement.

In the West there seems to be a lot of support for this separation movement, even some support seems to be coming from the Eastern provinces. With all this support though, comes the opposition to this movement. Not every person is completely against this movement, nor completely for it. There are a lot of people who are on the fence and are just not sure about the movement or what it could mean to them personally. From some in the Vancouver-Chilliwack area, there seems to be confusion about the movement, wondering about how the provinces will all support themselves after a separation, both those who separate and those who remain in Canada, as well as the question of how it would affect the living costs as a whole. The sentiment of it being a waste of time, seems like a common sentiment among those in opposition to the idea, particularly, but not limited to the Central Manitoba region. Despite this it does seem to be picking up momentum in the Northern areas of BC, as well as the portion of British Columbia from Kelowna East.

Part of the problems in the Wexit movement, seems to be around the lack of united front. When people disagree about a point or question that has been put forward, they are immediately attacked by keyboard warriors, which does not garner support, or help the cause. The same could be said for those who are not completely on board. Comments from some Albertans have been attacks against anyone who does not share their opinion. Sentiments seem to be that you are either with them or can move East, and only wanting people with Conservative values, plagues the province of Alberta. The result of these attacks is a loss of momentum and support. To those with cooler heads, they seem to understand that reason, well thought out plans, empathy, and a united front are going to be the only way to get a successful referendum, putting aside differences to join together and come up with a solution that works best for the West as a whole.

When asked what their thoughts are on the likelihood of separation happening, sentiments varied. Many in the West think it will happen for sure, while those in the East mainly feel that it will not happen, that it is all talk. A person interviewed in southwest Saskatchewan says that he doesn’t see it happening as anger over election results will cool down, people will grin and bear it for Trudeau’s term. He insists that people need to keep informed and share opinions, instead of just letting it slide. Another person who lived in the Maritimes for most of their life, but now lives in Saskatchewan, says that they never would have thought of separation while in the East, but now living in Western Canada and speaking with friends who have lived here there whole lives, she is being forced to stop and really think about what is best for Canada as a whole. When asked about acceptable timelines for separation, many Westerners feel that a referendum must be called within a few months or it will lose momentum, and change won’t happen. However, those in the East and West do agree on one point, that a timeline really depends on each province’s leadership and what they do over the next couple of years, but that if an election happens sooner than the 4-year term, some issues may very well resolve themselves through change in government. They just aren’t sure how much would actually change.

The sentiments from the Eastern and Western supporters seems to be in consensus over what the goal for separation should be. They all feel that they need to gain control over business and economy again, and that they need to have the whole West in mind, not just one province, whatever allows them to begin steady growth again. A lady who has lived in both halves of the country sums up what she feels are the main reasons behind the Wexit movement, “Western families feel the Canadian government has failed them and has no interest to help them succeed financially. What with stripping away many Western families’ livelihoods and thwarting any hope of oil progression over the next foreseeable four years.” This quote sums up how most Westerners feel. To stop a separation from taking place, people feel that the government will take the tact of ignoring the complaints of the West and let the movement fizzle itself out. People in the West feel that what the government needs to do is, scrap the carbon tax, which they feel is not likely to happen, and to start listening to what the West has to say, make them feel that they have a voice. Part of giving the West a voice, would be shown through a change in the electoral system, to properly represent the population bases, adjusting or scrapping equalization payments, and to allow, as well assist, in pipeline projects. The likelihood of a Western Exit actually happening they feel will depend on how angry the West remains, what the government does to appease the West, and just how much sustained pressure is put on the Liberal government. Staying organized seems to be the common sentiment of success.

Support was ramping up for this movement, but may have hit a small snag when VoteWexit.com founder, Peter Downing, put up a post stating, “WEXIT Canada will sweep the next election. The Conservative Party had their chance.” This statement seemed to ruffle the feathers of some supporters. It was followed with comments like, “We don’t need a new party. Referendum can be done with CPC.” “We don’t need another party.” “Ya I’m sure it will. I’m out.” “Creating a new party to compete with Federal Conservatives seems off point.” They seem to be worried about a further splitting of votes. These sentiments may cause trouble for the Wexit movement, time shall tell. Further more, there seems to be frustration around the singular focus of Alberta being the only one in this, when other western provinces feel that this is an insult to the support that they have been providing the province of Alberta. It is hard to predict what course and direction the Wexit movement will take, nor what it shall result in. Efforts have been put in motion by Wexit leaders to bridge these gaps. Right now, it seems to be a healthy outlet for the pent-up frustrations the Western Provinces are feeling. A lot of details need to be sorted out before any solid referendum plans can formulate and be put into action. Although many appear wanting to rush the process, a slower more well thought out process tends to be the preferred method for these proceedings. Starting the separation process and successfully creating a country is not something to be rushed into. As stated before, there are many little and big details that need to be sorted out, red tape to get through, and things to make sure are in order before any action can be taken.

Canadians as whole should be asking themselves, how long before things calm down? And when things do calm down, can the momentum for a separation referendum survive?

Time will be the only true test. I leave you with Trudeau’s thoughts on this matter, “I will be saying more about this, as my thinking evolves.”

This article was part of a series on ‘Wexit’, the movement in Western Canadian provinces to secede from the union. 

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