Federal election had little to no effect on amount of Wexit support in Sask.: survey

Federal election had little to no effect on amount of Wexit support in Sask.: survey

Western alienation and sentiments of separation have occupied much of the post-federal election discussion, but in Saskatchewan the idea is still unpopular, according to a new survey.

Surveys conducted by the University of Saskatchewan-based Social Science Research Laboratories before and after the Oct. 21 election asked Saskatchewan residents, "Should Saskatchewan separate from Canada and form an independent country?"

The answer from respondents in both surveys was a resounding "no."

In September, just under nine per cent of respondents said "yes," while 86.4 per cent said "no." Just under five per cent said they were unsure.

Two months after the election — in which the Liberals returned to power, but with a minority government and no seats in either Saskatchewan or Alberta — the results were largely the same.

In early December, the social science laboratory again asked if the province should separate and form its own country.

This time, 9.3 per cent said "yes" while 84.8 per cent said "no" — a slight change, says SSRL director Jason Disano, not a significant one. 

"There really isn't a lot broad-based support, at least in Saskatchewan, for this Saskatchewan separation, Wexit, or whatever you want to call it."

Disano said that following the election, and the ramping up of "Wexit" rhetoric, his research facility thought it would be interesting to see how the election influenced separatist sentiments in the province.

"Interestingly enough, the data that we got from the exact same question provided an almost … identical result," he said.

But the question was not whether Saskatchewan and the western provinces should separate and form an independent country — this survey specifically asked about Saskatchewan alone forming a nation.

Disano said that the intent of the survey was to poll Saskatchewan residents, and to have a broader survey focused on Wexit would require a broader pool of respondents.

Tories more likely in favour of separation

"You should ask it across the entirety of Western Canada, rather just specifically of Saskatchewan, because that would give you a better sense of what public opinions are sort of on that broader scale across Western Canada," he said.

The September survey also looked at which federal party people planned to voted for. In that survey, 41 per cent of respondents said they planned to vote for the Conservative Party, while about 11 per cent said New Democratic Party, eight per cent said Green Party, about five per cent said Liberal, and 1.6 said People's Party of Canada. Almost 22 per cent were unsure at that point.

The December survey asked a different batch of respondents who they voted for in the Oct. 21 election. Just over 31 per cent said they voted Conservative, while 20 per cent said NDP, slightly under seven per cent said Liberal, 1.7 per cent Green and 1.1 People's Party. Almost 17 per cent of respondents said they did not vote, and about 20 per cent declined to answer.

From the December survey, the SSRL found that people who voted Conservative, or refused to disclose who they voted for, were "significantly more likely" to be in favour of Saskatchewan separating from Canada.

The two omnibus polls were conducted over the phone in September and December, and surveyed 400 and 402 random residents in Saskatchewan.

The results of the December survey are considered accurate within 4.9 percentage points 19 times out of 20.