Western alienation

In Canadian politics, Western alienation is the notion that the Western provincesBritish Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba – have been alienated, and in some cases excluded, from mainstream Canadian political affairs in favour of Ontario and Quebec. Western alienation claims that these latter two are politically over-represented and economically favoured, which has given rise to the sentiment of alienation among many western Canadians.[1]

Western Canada
Political map of Canada

History of alienationEdit

Following Confederation in 1867, the first Canadian Prime Minister, Sir John A. Macdonald, announced a "National Policy" to "broaden the base of the Canadian economy and restore the confidence of Canadians in the development of their country".[2]

The November 1974 Canadian federal budget terminated the deduction of provincial natural resources royalties from federal tax. According to Roy Romanow, this move kicked off the "resource war", a confrontation between Pierre Trudeau's federal government and the prairie Provinces over the control and revenues from natural resources extraction and energy production.[3]

Following a rapid increase in the price of oil between 1979 and 1980, the government of Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau introduced the National Energy Program (NEP), which intended to increase Canadian ownership in the oil industry, increase Canada's oil self-sufficiency and redistribute the wealth generated by oil production towards the federal government.[4] The program was extremely unpopular in the west,[4] where most of Canada's oil is produced, due to the resulting economic devastation which rivaled the great depression.[5][failed verification]

Current factors of alienationEdit

Political factorsEdit

A source of Western irritation can be traced to the Quebec sovereignty movement. Some Western Canadians argue that Quebec receives undue attention from the rest of the country due to concerns about its desire to secede from Canada or obtain sovereignty-association.[6]

Economic factorsEdit

In 2005, Alberta's share of equalization payments was calculated to be approximately $1.1 billion,[7] less than that provided by, but significantly higher on a per capita basis than, Ontario. Equalization payments are made by the federal government to the six current "have-not" provinces. Unlike social and health transfers, there are no restrictions over how this money is spent at the provincial level. In 2009–2010, Quebec received $8.552 billion,[8] making it the single largest beneficiary, as it has been throughout the program's history. In the 2009–2010 fiscal year, Ontario received an equalization payment of $347 million,[8]

British Columbia was a "have-not" province for just over five years, ending in 2006 and 2007, when it received $459 million.[8]

Equalization paymentsEdit

Note: Amounts are in $ millions Newfoundland Prince Edward Island Nova Scotia New Brunswick Quebec Manitoba Saskatchewan British Columbia Total
Regular 632 291 1,386 1,451 5,539 1,709 13 260 11,282
Adjustment* 54 - - - - - - 199 254
Total 687 291 1,386 1,451 5,539 1,709 13 459 11,535
Per capita (Not in millions) $1,334 $2,102 $1,475 $1,927 $725 $1,445 $13 $107 -

Notes: Totals may not add up due to rounding.

* For those provinces where there is a decline from the amount they had been advised of in November 2005, a one-time adjustment will be made to offset this decline.[9]


The Canadian Government stated that payments for the 2011–2012 period will total $14.7 billion:[10]

Note: Amounts are in $ millions Prince Edward Island Nova Scotia New Brunswick Quebec Ontario Manitoba
Total 329 1,167 1,483 7,815 2,200 1,666

The Canadian Government will pay out $19 billion in equalization payments for the 2018 to 2019 fiscal year.[11]

Note: Amounts are in $ millions Manitoba New Brunswick Nova Scotia Ontario Prince Edward Island Quebec
Total 2,037 1,874 1,933 963 419 11,732

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Western Canadians still feel more connected to their province than to country as a whole: Ipsos - Globalnews.ca". globalnews.ca. October 8, 2018.
  2. ^ Brown, Robert Craig. "National Policy". The Canadian Encyclopedia. Retrieved February 9, 2012.
  3. ^ Back to Blakeney : revitalizing the democratic state. McGrane, David,, Romanow, Roy J.,, Whyte, John D.,, Isinger, Russell, 1965-. Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada. August 24, 2019. ISBN 978-0-88977-641-8. OCLC 1090178443.CS1 maint: others (link)
  4. ^ a b Bregha, Francois. "National Energy Program". The Canadian Encyclopedia. Archived from the original on January 5, 2013. Retrieved February 9, 2012.
  5. ^ "Canadian Energy Overview 2010 – Energy Briefing Note". National Energy Board. Archived from the original on January 1, 2013. Retrieved February 9, 2012.
  6. ^ "Alienating the west". December 1, 2005 – via The Economist.
  7. ^ Bouquets of Gray: Equalization math. Bouquetsofgray.blogspot.com (July 18, 2005).
  8. ^ a b c "Federal Support to Quebec". Department of Finance Canada. Retrieved May 14, 2011.
  9. ^ Canadian Department of Finance, accessed 11 August 2006 Archived July 9, 2006, at the Wayback Machine
  10. ^ "What is Equalization?". Equalization Program. Department of Finance Canada. Retrieved August 4, 2011.
  11. ^ "Federal Support to Provinces and Territories". Government of Canada. Department of Finance. February 2, 2017. Retrieved May 30, 2018.

Further readingEdit