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January 21, 2020

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Why ‘Wexit’ is a bad idea

The biggest story to emerge from the 2019 federal election has undeniably been the Western separatist movement stirred up in its aftermath. Whether or not ‘Wexit’ gains any real traction, opposition leader Andrew Scheer believes ‘Canada is more divided than ever.’

Western alienation is hardly a new phenomenon in Canada. It has its roots in ideas about taxation, representation, and the general direction of government policy.

In a country as large and diverse as Canada, maybe this shouldn’t be surprising. The latest iteration has to do with the fact not a single Liberal MP was elected in either Alberta or Saskatchewan, and so the Wexit idea is to create a new country out of the two provinces, bounded on three sides by the rest of Canada. Some have called on Manitoba to join the movement.

Let’s suppose a community in Winnipeg wanted to separate from the rest of the city.

Suppose that community is surrounded on all sides by the rest of Winnipeg, but disagreed with the levying of new taxes with working on large-scale infrastructure projects while existing roads crumble, and with overall civic policy.

Lets say it’s South Osborne.

The City of Winnipeg Act of 1972, which amalgamated the many small communities surrounding the core of the city, was meant to increase civic participation, efficiency in the distribution of services, and overall financial equity. It has been criticized for increasing property taxes overall, and facilitating suburban infrastructure projects to the detriment of the inner-city because of the political clout those new suburban communities hold.

Those in favour of South Osborne de-amalgamation might say that a more localized government would better address local needs. They might say their water pipes have frozen, that city infill projects or rapid transit don’t reflect their will, and that service production and delivery are inefficient. They might also say the merger has weakened incentives and responsiveness to local needs by creating a whole where no one is properly represented.

As ridiculous as the idea sounds, one community has seceded from the City of Winnipeg since 1972 — that community being Headingley. Likewise, as ridiculous as creating a country out of Alberta and Saskatchewan seems, many people reading this might remember how close Quebec came to opting out of Confederation in the 1970s and again in the 1990s.

Divisive attitudes both within Canada and abroad usually add very little that is positive to political discourse. They also unnecessarily complicate governance.

Any community or jurisdiction can have any legitimate number of grievances, but we are more often than not better off as a more cohesive whole.

Andrew Braga is a community correspondent for South Osborne.

Andrew Braga

Andrew Braga
South Osborne community correspondent

Andrew Braga is a community correspondent for South Osborne.

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