New political alliance between Ontario and the West serves to end alienation

Andy Radia
Canada Politics

It would appear the new Conservative majority in Ottawa marks the end of a political condition known as 'western alienation.'

The rallying cry of Preston Manning's Reform party of the 1980s and 1990s was "the West wants in."

The motto was in reference to the long-standing belief Western Canada was excluded from mainstream political affairs of the country. In 1988, David Kilgour, former Member of Parliament from Edmonton, wrote a poignant article illustrating the century-long estrangement that led to this belief.

"Many Westerners are convinced that through the decades federal policies and practices have transferred opportunities, jobs and people from their natural location in our region to Central Canada," he wrote.

"A consensus continues that the decision-making system, whichever political party is in power, consistently discriminates in visible and invisible ways against our region."

Kilgour cited examples of Ottawa's indifference to the West.

"The various federal departments spent $8.1-billion during fiscal 1986-87 on goods and services. The four Western provinces with about 30 per cent of the national population received only 11.5 per cent of these procurements by total dollar amount. Ontario and Québec received fully 76 per cent by the same measure and Atlantic Canada 7 per cent."

Canada's new political landscape means that 'western alienation' can finally be extinguished as a  political concept, at least for the next four years.

We now have a prime minister from Alberta, who helped develop the Reform party doctrine, who now has a majority government. We have senior cabinet ministers such as Jason Kenney, Rona Ambrose and James Moore who will bring western interests to the forefront.

Manning told the Calgary Herald this election marks a shift in the balance of power in the country.

"The old alliance with Quebec and Ontario to now an alliance between Ontario and the West," he said.

Twenty-five years after Manning and his cadre of  disgruntled western politicos deliberated about how to give the West a voice in Ottawa, part of his vision has come to fruition.

The West is in!

(Reuters Photo)