WEXIT: Poll shows separatist sentiment booming in western provinces
A new Ipsos poll has given another indicator of what many already suspected: The prairie provinces are more eager than ever to separate from the rest of Canada.
The exclusive poll conducted for Global News found that the majority of respondents in Alberta, British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and in the Maritimes believe that Canada is “more divided than ever,” and according to Ipsos vice-president Kyle Braid, those numbers have reached “historic” heights, specifically in Alberta and Saskatchewan.
“This is really a story of two oil provinces that feel that they made a substantial contribution to the Canadian economy during the boom years and now feel when things are not going as well, they feel isolated, underappreciated, misunderstood by the rest of the country,” he said.
According to the study, “agreement that the country is more divided than ever is highest in … Alberta (79%) and Saskatchewan (77%). A majority of residents in the two other western provinces of Manitoba (58%) and BC (54%) also agree the country is divided, but their agreement is aligned with Ontario (56%) and Quebec (54%) and not their western neighbours. Two-thirds (66%) of Atlantic Canadians agree the country is more divided than ever.”
The poll surveyed 1,516 voting-age Canadians online between Oct. 24 and Nov. 1, 2019.
Among the other questions were “Canada is more divided than ever,” “my province would be better off if it separated from Canada,” and “I think the views of western Canadians are adequately represented in Ottawa.”
According to the poll, approximately one-third (33%) of Albertans surveyed and just over one-quarter (27%) of Saskatchewanians agree with the statement: “My province would be better off if it separated from Canada.”
That separatist ethos is up 8 points compared to last year’s numbers (from 25% to 33%,) and up 14 points from the 19 percent figure found in 2001. According to the survey, “a belief that Saskatchewan would be better off if it separated is up 9 points from just over a year ago (from 18% to 27%) and up 14 points from 2001 (was 13%).”
That separatist sentiment is rivalled only by the Quebecois, where 26 percent believe that their province would fair better by leaving Canada.
Former Prime Minister Kim Campbell has called Wexit “nuts” and that it was created to sow “unnecessary division.”
Speaking to Global News, Campbell stated that “adult” conversations were necessary with policies like equalization, and yet the dialogue has been anything but mature.
“We’re a complex country and we are always going to have issues that need solving,” she added. When Campbell was prompted on Wexit she gave out an incensed screech: “It’s nuts! I’m sorry, it’s a dead-end, so Alberta’s going to separate and that’s going to make it easier to get access to open water? That is a slogan designed to make people angry.”
Campbell’s comments come after the surging support in western separatism deriving from Justin Trudeau’s re-election. Since then, a notable online presence has grown in support of the Wexit movement, and the premiers of western provinces have cautioned Trudeau of the stark consequences of western alienation.
Campbell finished by saying that the Wexit movement “was not how grown-up people address problems … I see this and I think grow up!”
A Twitter search of Campbell’s tweets on Quebec show no similar criticism of the separatist movement in that province.
Bloc Quebecois leader Yves-François Blanchet has attacked Alberta Premier Kenney by saying that he needs to “start explaining things with truth.” Blanchet went on to say that Kenney had been spreading “false information” about the province’s equalization payments, according to Global News.
An indignant Blanchet told The West Block that Canada “does not send a cheque to Quebec … I would be glad if he started explaining things with truth instead of some false information as we see.”
When Blanchet was asked about the Wexit movement he stated that he understood “that some people in western Canada don’t feel comfortable in the presence of this country … but the desire to do whatever they want with their oil might not be a sufficient reason to fuel a desire to become a country.”
Blanchet’s comments is the latest escalation in the war of words between the Quebec and Alberta premiers. Last week, after leaving a meeting with Prime Minister Trudeau, Blanchet told a scrum of reporters that he would not indulge western Canada’s desire to build an “oil state”.
Due to Kenney making a point of criticizing equalization payments, even going as far as to threaten a referendum, Blanchet’s position will further antagonize an already disenfranchised western Canada
Since 1960, Alberta has paid $600 billion in equalization payments to Ottawa, much of which has then relocated to Quebec. Over the last few years, Alberta’s economy has begun to slow down, even falling into a light recession this year. Despite this, they still have had to pay $23 billion each year for the past five years.
Blanchet’s comments, then, add additional salt to Alberta’s wound, especially as Quebec posted a $4 billion surplus.
Disclosure: Lawyer John Carpay is President of the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms (JCCF.ca), which represents Candice Servatius in her court action against School District 70.
Public schools in British Columbia are not complying with court rulings, because children are required to participate in religious rituals and spiritual practices in the classroom.
For most of Canada’s history, children in public schools have recited the Lord’s Prayer, while children in Catholic schools recited the Our Father, the same prayer. The “public” schools were, in fact, Protestant schools, inculcating the general principles of non-Catholic Christianity. In recent decades, following trends in Canadian culture, public schools have gradually ceased to be Christian.
Starting in the 1980s, a number of Jews, atheists and others launched successful court challenges to the practice of requiring children in public schools (formerly Protestant schools) to say the Lord’s Prayer. Courts accepted the argument that public schools should be neutral in regard to religion, and should not teach any one faith or creed. Requiring children to recite the Lord’s Prayer in public schools is government imposition of Christianity, and this imposition violates the Charter. The courts also ruled that exempting the children of atheists, Jews and other non-Christians from saying the Lord’s Prayer was not an adequate compromise: no child should be required to announce or declare his or her non-belief in Christianity. The courts reasoned that for a child to make use of the exemption would effectively force that child to express his or her unwillingness to say the Lord’s Prayer. This could result in unacceptable stigma or ostracism; a person has the right not to disclose his or her religious belief or non-belief to other people.
In spite of clear court rulings, John Howitt Elementary School (JHES) in Port Alberni, B.C., forces children to participate in aboriginal smudging ceremonies, in which the smoke of burning sage is waived over children to “cleanse” their “spirits” of “negative energy”. As JHES explained in a note to parents in September of 2015: without this cleansing ritual the classroom and even the furniture would harbour negative “energy” and would not be safe until the “energy” was “released”. The letter stated that each student would participate in the cleansing ritual by holding onto a cedar branch while having “smoke from Sage fanned over [their] body and spirit.”
This “Traditional Classroom/Student Cleansing” was performed by a member of the Nuu-chah-nulth, the term used to describe fifteen related First Nation tribes who live on the southwest coast of Vancouver Island. The school’s letter to parents also described Nuu-chah-nulth religious and
spiritual beliefs: “everything has a spirit” and “everything is one, all is connected”.
Concerned about the explicitly supernatural and religious nature of the cleansing ritual, and how it conflicted with her own family’s religious beliefs, Candice Servatius immediately went to the school to learn more, after receiving the JHES letter in September of 2015. But when this Port Alberni mother arrived at the school, she was shocked to find out that the ritual had already been imposed on her nine-year-old daughter.
The daughter explained that she had been coerced or pressured by the teacher to participate in the ritual against her will. When the nine-year-old girl told her teacher that she did not want to participate, the teacher told the girl that it would be “rude” not to participate in the ritual and that “all” the students were “required” to participate.
In January of 2016, Mrs. Servatius learned that a prayer based on First Nations spirituality had been performed at a JHES student assembly, with explicit references to an unspecified “god”.
JHES did not notify parents.
Mrs. Servatius’ daughter has recounted her experience in the classroom to her mother, and has also sworn an Affidavit, filed with the court action against School District 70 (Port Alberni).
School District 70 claims that the ceremonies and prayers that children are required to participate in are merely “cultural” and therefore not religious or spiritual. This assertion is contradicted by what the School District itself told parents in the letter in September of 2015.
School District 70 has offered to exempt children from these rituals, when a parent or child requests such exemption. But courts have explained why exemptions from spiritual or religious practices are not an acceptable solution: no child should have to face stigma or ostracism by needing to signal her disagreement with an aboriginal cleansing ritual. Further, consistent with clear court rulings, section 76 of the B.C. School Act requires public schools to be conducted on “strictly secular and non-sectarian principles”.
Witnesses for the Attorney General of B.C. and the Nuu-chul-nuth Tribal Council, both of whom are intervening in the case, have already stated that it is contrary to First Nations practice to compel anyone to be smudged against their will, and that it is “unnecessary” to hold smudging
ceremonies in classrooms in order to teach about First Nations culture.
The Charter exists to protect the right of Canadians to live and participate in public life in accordance with their own conscience and beliefs. This includes the right to live free from government-imposed religion.
The state should not enforce or impose any sectarian creed or ideology on children, by requiring children to say a prayer or participate in a religious or spiritual ceremony. It’s one thing to teach children about Islam, but quite another to require children to kneel on prayer rugs and recite Islamic prayers while facing in the direction of Mecca. Public schools can teach children about Christianity’s central prayer, but cannot ask children to recite that prayer.
Likewise, it’s possible to teach children about aboriginal spiritual rituals without requiring children to participate in them.
The Supreme Court of B.C. will hear this case in Nanaimo from Nov. 18 to 22, 2019.
Councillors in Victoria, British Columbia are trying to raise their salary by more than 50 percent. They are also hoping to provide additional benefits, according to the Times Colonist.
In an online survey on Victoria’s budget, the City asked respondents whether they would agree to raise their salary to $70,100. This figure is the same median salary for city employees. Overall, this is an increase of $25,000.
Councillors are currently paid around $45,000 a year, and the mayor of Victoria receives $113,000 a year. There are no plans to alter the mayor’s salary.
Speaking to the Times, a councillor justified their pay raise by saying the city wanted to “attract professionals and others, and not just have very wealthy people serve on the council, I think we do have to set the compensation at a level that [would attract] younger people.”
The current salaries were set in 2009 upon the review of an independent commission.