#Wexit: Should Alberta, Saskatchewan, B.C. separate from Canada?


What’s happening

The Western provinces, namely Alberta and Saskatchewan, are outraged by the federal election results that would have Prime Minister Justin Trudeau serve another term as the Liberal leader of Canada. Residents and politicians said their voices are not being heard by Trudeau’s government. Their anger turned to determination to separate from the rest of the country, in what is now being referred to as “Wexit.”

Why there’s debate

At the root of the issue is the fact that the West has little representation in Ottawa, with Alberta making up only 10 per cent of parliament. However, the oil produced within the province benefits the entire country’s economy. There is also resentment from climate activists, who feel the purchase of the Trans Mountain pipeline was a betrayal. And even for its supporters, the problem is being exacerbated as construction for its expansion is expected to be stalled by hearings and challenges in court. The Wexit movement in Saskatchewan is mainly due to feeling alienated by the east. In certain areas of British Columbia, residents feel they have been overlooked and there has been a decline in jobs within the oil, gas and forestry industries.


Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau talks with Alberta Premier Jason Kenney during a meeting in Trudeau's office on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, May 2, 2019. REUTERS/Chris Wattie


First Nations leaders are wary about Wexit, noting that they would have to sign off on any plans to separate. “You have to be careful when you go down that road of Western alienation, Western exit,” said Assembly of First Nations National Chief Perry Bellegarde. “We have inherent rights; we have treaty rights, and those are international agreements with the Crown.”

What’s next

While the future is still unclear for Wexit, social media campaigns and websites have been popping up online with growing support in the hundreds of thousands.

Meanwhile, Trudeau will be listening to advice from Albertan Anne McLellan, a former deputy prime minister, for his second term transition. McLellan might offer some much-needed insight into the division between parliament and the Western provinces.

Wexit rallies are expected to take place in cities across Alberta in November.

Perspectives

For:

The relationship is ruined.

“To me, we’ve got to that point where our relationship with Confederation is dysfunctional, and that no matter how much we regret it, no matter how messy it’s going to be, that the only alternative, just as in a personal relationship, is divorce.” — British Columbia Conservative MP Jay Hill, Calgary Herald

Feeling fed up.

“Right now there’s no hope, there’s no future … no reason why we have to have Justin Trudeau governing us.” — Wexit Alberta founder Peter Downing, CTV News

Against:

No First Nations support.

“As far as the comments that have recently been made by Jason Kenney and our Premier Scott Moe, they have not reached out to us. They can’t say that they’re going to separate, because the thousands of the Saskatchewan people that I’ve talked to have said: ‘not going to happen.’ We are not going to separate. So good luck, it’s not going to happen.” — Chief of Saskatchewan's Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations Bobby Cameron, CBC News

Not the only solution.

“I don’t think you ever get anywhere building a stronger relationship by threatening to leave it... I think you have to work together. You have to overcome your difficulties. You don’t threaten to leave.” — Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister, Winnipeg Free Press

Working together is better.

“A prosperous Alberta means a thriving Canada, and we need the rest of the country’s help to put the province back on track.” — Public law litigator Avnish Nanda, Edmonton Journal