Author Topic: The New West  (Read 752 times)

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Offline Rifleman62

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The New West
« on: February 07, 2019, 09:58:37 »
Interesting analysis received via email as a subscriber to Angus Reid. At link is the AR project surveys to date.

The New West - By Angus Reid, Chairman
    Economy, Identity, Politics, and the Future of Canada

I’m a child of Western Canada. Born in Regina after the Second World War, raised in Winnipeg, now a resident of BC and half of my six siblings live in Alberta. I’ve come to know this part of Canada through the dual lens of personal experience and thousands of polls. And I’ve spent enough time in Ottawa, Toronto and Montreal to discover the many myths and misconceptions about this vast region.

I have witnessed a massive change in the role of the West, largely driven by demographic forces.  In the early 50’s the Canadian population fulcrum, with Ontario in the middle, was decidedly tilted east. Western Canada had barely a quarter of the then-total population of 14 million. Quebec and the Atlantic provinces hosted slightly more than forty percent of the country.

When I started my polling company in the late ‘70s the eastward tilt was slightly less pronounced but still left the west in third place.
Starting in the ‘80s with the Alberta oil boom and the influx of immigrants to BC, things began to shift. Today the population of the four Western provinces is just under a third of the country and according to projections from Statistics Canada will grow to about 35 per cent by 2036. The share Quebec and Atlantic Canada will drop to under 30 per cent.

Clearly the west (Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta and BC) is a more dominant player in Canada than ever.  But what does this mean? Will the scales of Canadian politics be upended, the economy transformed and our identity forever altered? Anecdotally, there is a stirring in parts of the west that hasn’t been seen since the 80s when the double whammy of the National Energy Program and the decision to bypass Winnipeg in favour of Montreal for CF-18 military jet maintenance, served to put Western Canada firmly in its place as a junior player in confederation.

The result of this was the launch of the Reform Party, which, despite its best intentions did little to reform the perceived institutional bias – especially from Ottawa where the Laurentian elites from Toronto and Montreal remained firmly in control – against Western interests.

Today Alberta and its energy-rich neighbour, Saskatchewan, are mad as hell because they can’t get their products to market.  BC is suffering a different kind of hell as young couples decamp from Vancouver in the face of unattainably expensive housing costs.
If the Reform Party came to prominence as a result of the troubles in the 80s what can we expect from the current issues facing Western Canada? Given the rising demographic and political power of the West what are the implications for national unity, identity and federal institutions? How is the West perceived by Canadians east of Manitoba?

These questions and others are the subject of a comprehensive study which involved in-depth surveys with 4000 residents across the country. The portrait that emerges from this study displays a somewhat distorted image of Western Canada, reveals cracks in the contours of our unity as a nation and contains bold and new horizons that our leaders in Ottawa ignore at their peril.

Almost thirty years ago I undertook what was then one of the largest surveys ever developed on Western Canadian attitudes. Much has changed since then but the feelings of resentment towards Ottawa are higher than ever and the potential for change in the electoral map is intensifying.

On the economic front, our study examined the single largest issue in Western Canada – pipelines. Not surprisingly this issue has the biggest impact in Alberta and Saskatchewan. But the untold public opinion story is the unique position of Quebec on the entire energy file. By a huge margin Quebecers are most likely to downplay the role of energy in the Canadian economy and resist any attempt to move Western oil through their province to refineries in Atlantic Canada. As Indigenous and environmental roadblocks continue to frustrate the Trans Mountain option, most Canadians support a dual track with pipelines east and west, with the exception of Quebecers who stand firmly opposed to both energy pipeline projects.

Quebec also stands in that it is perceived by a majority of Canadians as having an extra advantage in confederation. None of the four Western provinces are seen as having this advantage by more than 10 per cent of the national population. Alberta, which has contributed billions to federal equalization is mentioned most often (32%) by Canadians as giving more than it gets. It would appear the principle of fairness is being severely tested in Canada.

The “Western” label is heavily used by Ottawa, the national media and corporate Canada. However, looking at this through the eyes of Western Canadians uncovers a less than cohesive region. There are strong ties between Alberta and Saskatchewan, but the two provinces on either side are less connected. British Columbians are especially standoffish – preferring to see themselves having more in common with the West coast of the US than their neighbours on the other side of the Rockies.

But what unites the entire West is a widely shared consensus about unfair treatment by the national government. Three-quarters of Westerners feel that the treatment of their province by Ottawa is unfair, compared to slightly less than half in Eastern Canada. And most of those who hold this point of view say this unfair treatment is only getting worse.

An in-depth review of perceptions of major federal institutions reveals that negative views are chiefly aimed at the federal government, Parliament and to a lesser extent, national programming on the CBC. More positive assessments exist for the Supreme Court, The RCMP and the Armed Forces. Perhaps surprisingly given the tenor of debates back in the 70s and 80s, Western Canadians are largely indifferent to the principles of official bilingualism. Our study finds little opposition to the language rights enjoyed by French speakers.

Western Canada, especially the two provinces in the middle, has become a pressure cooker of intense emotions looking for an outlet. The last time emotions were running this high a group of Albertans jumped from the then-Progressive Conservatives to establish the Reform Party in 1987. There is no better testament to what little was accomplished by that epoch in Canadian political history than the continued and even more intense feelings of inequitable treatment uncovered in this study.  Reform morphed from a Western movement to a populist national conservative party but did little to address Western concerns. It forgot its Western roots in the search for national power.

What will be the outlet for the emotional stresses building in Western Canada? Some see Andrew Scheer and the post-Harper Conservative Party as the answer. Maybe. But Scheer’s record so far suggests more interest in building support in Quebec than listening to his Western base. His early support for supply management (which especially favours Quebec dairy farmers) does little to endear him to Western Conservatives.

At the other end of the spectrum is talk of Western separatism. This may be a good negotiating ploy (witness experience of Quebec) but the chances of this movement taking hold among most Albertans is unlikely; across Western Canada, even less.

A third option for Western Canada and one which evokes widespread interest and support across the region is the establishment of a Western Canada party which would run candidates in a federal election. In a question included as part of our study the “Western Canada Party” was chosen by 35 per cent of respondents – six points ahead of the Conservatives and more than double the support for the Liberals or NDP.

How much weight should one place on this finding which is based on a hypothetical situation? In my experience the gap between concept and reality in Canadian politics usually comes down to one word – leadership. Reform did exceedingly well in its early years because Preston Manning was able to articulate views that connected with the feelings of a great many Canadians – especially in the West.

An unfortunate consequence of bilingualism traditions in the age of televised leader debates is that many of our best leaders from English Canada are denied a shot at becoming Prime Minister because of their lack of proficiency in French. A Western Canada Party would not be limited by this requirement.

A strong electoral showing by a Western Canada Party would likely result in a minority parliament thereby giving the Party significant clout on cabinet positions and public policy. And what policies would it seek to shape? National resources and their distribution would be front and center, as would programs to favour economic diversification.

One possible policy which we examined in our survey involves the decentralization of major government departments into regions across the country. Here we found a remarkably high level of agreement from coast to coast. Despite many discordant attitudes and perceptions across the Canadian federation, it’s noteworthy on this fundamental question of fairness we can all agree.

My grandchildren are coming of age in a far different political environment than I faced as a young lad in the early 50s. Hopefully they will look back in the distant future at a country that adapted to the changing demographics of the twenty first century. Western Canada has always wanted in. Soon it will have the clout to burst through the door. Get ready.




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Offline Rifleman62

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Re: The New West
« Reply #1 on: February 07, 2019, 10:01:07 »
http://angusreid.org/the-new-west/

About the Project

By 2036, Canada’s four Westernmost provinces are projected to be home to more than a third of the country. Over the next 20 years growth in the West is expected to outpace every other region in the nation.

But as the West grows, so too does the chorus of voices expressing frustration over the economic influence and political clout these provinces believe they should have, relative to what they do have.

Against the backdrop of oil and gas production in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Northern BC, pressure to find markets for these products, and a fierce debate over whether Canada’s resource economy should be promoted or suppressed, public opinion data reveals antipathy towards Ottawa and national regulators that hasn’t been seen in nearly two generations.

With these issues dominating conversations and galvanizing populations across the country, the Angus Reid Institute has carried out an exhaustive study of Western Canada - through the eyes of both its own residents and those who live elsewhere in the country.


To date there are four surveys at link:

1. Fractured federation: Amid competing priorities, which provinces believe they give & get more from Canada?
      Grievances in Western Canada & ambivalence towards Quebec highlight difficult interprovincial dynamics January 24, 2019

2. Six-in-ten Canadians say lack of new pipeline capacity represents a crisis in this country
      Half say Trudeau government has been doing “too little” to build new capacity January 16, 2019

3. What unites & defines the “West”? In a complicated confederation, less than one might think
       A region often divided finds itself united by the belief that the federal government treats it unfairly January 30, 2019

4. Decades after Reform’s rise, voters open to a new ‘Western Canada Party’
       Most Canadians, including westerners, say it’s unlikely the west would separate from the rest of Canada February 5, 2019

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Offline Brad Sallows

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Re: The New West
« Reply #2 on: February 07, 2019, 15:20:41 »
Rafe Mair has touched on these themes in his works.  It's good to see increasing recognition that not only is "the West" growing, but that "the West" is not a monolithic entity with shared values and ambitions across its entire breadth.
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"It is a damned heavy blow; but whining don't help."

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Offline Furniture

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Re: The New West
« Reply #3 on: February 07, 2019, 18:16:08 »
As a born and bred East Coaster I have to say I identify with the Western provinces more than back home. A point that is brought up frequently by my very East Coast parents...

The Eastern half of Canada has used and abused the West for a very long time, and I hope that the changing population and demographics start to correct that error. Natural resources are our economic backbone, and all Canadians need to recognize, and embrace it. It feels good to pretend we are a European manufacturing and tech powerhouse, but the reality is we survive on exporting our almost incomparable store of resources to the world.

Offline Good2Golf

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Re: The New West
« Reply #4 on: February 08, 2019, 18:17:53 »
It would be nice if part of The New West included B.C. and Alberta collaborating on energy, rather than squabbling.  As population proportion increases towards the West, blue-on-blue is not helpful, and it will dilute the effectiveness of what should otherwise be proportional empowerment.  My AB and SK cousins quietly mutter under their breath about BC’s wanting to eats its cake, but have it too (NG v oil, et al).

Regards
G2G

Offline Rifleman62

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Re: The New West
« Reply #5 on: February 08, 2019, 19:10:07 »
And coal. Even shipping US coal as it can't be shipped from US ports.
Quote
....grain train derailment east of Field, B.C.....
  Damage, reaction if these cars were filled in Fort McMurray?
« Last Edit: February 08, 2019, 20:04:33 by Rifleman62 »
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Offline Colin P

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Re: The New West
« Reply #6 on: February 09, 2019, 15:11:31 »
Currently I am reviewing LNGCanada terminal in Kitimat, 3 LPG loading facilities in Prince Rupert. I have already approved a LPG loading arm as well there on existing dock.

Just heard about another LPG loading dock proposed for Kitimat

My coworkers are working on a smaller LNG in Howe Sound and just starting an environmental review of a large LNG terminal in Vancouver Island.

That's just energy projects not other stuff.