As Prime Minister Justin Trudeau prepares to meet Alberta Premier Jason Kenney for the first time since the federal election, a new survey suggests Canadians are worried about separatist sentiment in western Canada and aren’t convinced that the Liberals can solve the rift.
The poll, commissioned by CTV News and conducted by Nanos Research, surveyed 1,010 Canadians and found that those asked reported more concern about separatist sentiment growing stronger in Alberta and Saskatchewan than in Quebec.
Half of those surveyed said they were concerned (20 per cent) or somewhat concerned (30 per cent) that the so-called Wexit movement could grow. Around a third, or 31 per cent, were not concerned, and around 15 per cent were “somewhat not concerned.”
When asked about Quebec, which narrowly avoided separation in 1995, 14 per cent of respondents said they were concerned that separatist sentiment will become stronger in the French-speaking province. Twenty-three per cent were somewhat concerned.
A whopping 60 per cent were not concerned or somewhat not concerned about Quebec separatism.
Unfortunately for the Liberals, the latest poll also suggests that a majority of Canadians are not confident that that the Trudeau government will be able to manage western alienation.
Of those respondents in the Prairies, a resounding 64 per cent said they were not confident that the new government can manage divisions over Wexit. Another 15 per cent were somewhat not confident.
Nationally, just under six in ten Canadians said they were not confident (19 per cent) or somewhat not confident (38 per cent) that Trudeau will be able to address the situation.
Only around 10 per cent were confident that Trudeau’s government can handle the issue.
Trudeau’s Liberal party was completely stonewalled by the Prairies during the last election, failing to win a single seat in the region. Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland, who was born in Peace River, Alta., was named the minister of intergovernmental affairs portfolio in the new government.
Handing the intergovernmental role to the high-profile former foreign minister “signals that the Liberals are serious about tackling the current stress in the federation,” according to CTV News pollster Nik Nanos.
In his upcoming meeting with Trudeau, Kenney said he will be “making the point that Alberta has been a massive contributor to Canadian jobs and prosperity, to social programs and social progress.”
Another survey question asked whether residents support or oppose ideas floated in Alberta to set up its own pension plan, establishing its own provincial tax ministry and possibly replacing the RCMP with a provincial police force.
Two thirds of Canadians oppose or somewhat oppose Premier Kenney’s ideas, the survey revealed. Opposition in the Prairies itself was the same.
Nanos conducted an RDD dual frame (land-and cell-lines) hybrid telephone and online random survey of 1,010 Canadians, 18 years of age or older, between November 29 and December 2 2019, as part of an omnibus survey. The margin of error for this survey is Canadians is ±3.1 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.
– With files from The Canadian Press