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Regionalism in Canada:

The Forgotten Diversity

Chapter 1
Regional Analysis
Canada is divided into four main regions

Northern Canada (3))

Regional Analysis
Atlantic Canada (4))

Western Canada (4))

Central Canada (2))

Introduction: Regionalism and Diversity

Regionalism – what is it?

An attitude that reflects a long, deep, certain feeling held
by the citizens of a particular geographical area that
they have their own, unique identity.

Regionalism examines the people living in different areas

in Canada and the different feelings they have regarding
themselves, the people living in other areas, and the
federal and provincial governments.

1. Federal and provincial governments

rarely recognize contributions to the
2. Not given due recognition for
contribution to building Canada.
3. Interests are not adequately represented
by government and that’s why some
regions have more money than others

1.How are geographical regions

2.Are provinces necessarily
3.Are regions an appropriate tool
to study the people living in

1. How are geographical regions defined?

• British Columbia very different from other western

prairie provinces
• Newfoundland and Labrador consider themselves
distinct from other Atlantic provinces

2. Are provinces necessarily regions?

• Northern and Southern Ontario (GTA and Golden

Horseshoe are very different especially in terms of
Regions as Tools

3. Are regions the only appropriate tool to study the

people of Canada?
• Other tools – social class, occupation, elites, ethnicity,
economic development, and individual choice.
=regions is only one of many tools
Causes of Regionalism

Four approaches to the study of regionalism:

1. The Natural Resources

2. Market Approaches
3. Interventionist Approaches
4. Marxist Approaches
Natural Resources Approach

Also called ‘Staples Approach’: two beliefs:

1. How much natural resources does your region have and
how marketable are they internationally (for example oil
in Alberta and grain in the prairies)
2. Effect of the international market on pricing – for the
most part, pricing is out of the control of producers
Problem with this approach
This does not explain why southern Ontario is prosperous
– no natural resources (except Great Lakes) – a lot of
- Atlantic Canada has natural resources but is not
Market Approach

Could be referred to as the Capitalist Approach

• No government control, free movement and workings of
capital – for example, United States and United
Kingdom. Also former premiers Ralph Klein and Mike
Harris as well as current Prime Minister Stephen Harper
• Wages can fall, minimal taxes, employees free to move
• Examples of government interference – tariffs, taxes,
Market Approach
Interventionist Approach

• Economic success depends on government intervention;

giving money to provinces
• Differences between Interventionist and Market
theories and the Natural Resources theory:

Theory Interventionist Theory

Natural Resources → economic success Economic success is not natural
is natural
Market → economic problems are Even in a free market, problems
avoidable in a free market are not avoidable
Interventionist Approach
Marxist Approach

• Economic success depends on social class and power

• According to Marxist Approach, unequal regional
economics result from social and power differences in
society where capitalism is the main economic system
• Economic regional differences are important because:
1. Capitalists use poor regions’ natural resources
2. Capitalists use their labour
3. Capitalists use them as a market
4. Capitalists threaten to move businesses if workers
don’t concede to demands (such as lower wages,
fewer benefits)
Factors That Intensify (Strengthen) Regionalism

Two most important factors:

1. Federalism – government system – two levels –

federal (national – Ottawa) and provincial
• Responsibilities of each level of government varies
• Divisions can cause conflict
• Executive federalism – federal and provincial
governments working together to create policies
• Politicians are from a particular region and may have a
Factors That Intensify (Strengthen) Regionalism

Meech Lake Accord- an example of Executive Federalism

Quebec’s Demands to sign the amended constitution:

(1) the recognition of Quebec as a distinct society
(2) a greater role in immigration
(3) a provincial role in appointments to the Supreme Court
of Canada
(4) limitations on the federal spending power
(5) a veto for Quebec on constitutional amendments
Factors That Intensify (Strengthen) Regionalism

Meech Lake Accord

-Newfoundland argued that Meech Lake would give

Quebec greater legislative powers than the other
provinces, make it almost impossible to enact future
constitutional reforms, and undermine federal funding to
Canada's poorer provinces.
-Aboriginal people in Western provinces angry about not
being included

=the accord failed to pass in Newfoundland and Labrador

and Manitoba
Factors That Intensify (Strengthen) Regionalism

2. Electoral system
• The Canadian electoral system is based on the
majority of ‘seats’ won
• The majority of seats do not necessarily correspond to
the majority of percentage won
• The number of ‘seats’ in a province depends on the
population; therefore, Ontario and Quebec – 121 and
78 = 199 out of 338
• Successful candidate needs only to win more votes –
not necessarily a majority (Page 16)
Factors That Intensify (Strengthen) Regionalism

Province/ Territory Population estimate = Total seats

British Columbia 4,573,321 42
Alberta 3,779,353 34
Saskatchewan 1,057,884 14
Manitoba 1,250,574 14
Ontario 13,372,996 121
Quebec 7,979,663 78
New Brunswick 755,455 10
Nova Scotia 945,437 11
Prince Edward Island 145,855 4
Newfoundland and Labrador 510,578 7
Yukon 34,666 1
Northwest Territories 43,675 1
Nunavut 33,322 1
Total 34,482,779 338
Factors That Intensify (Strengthen) Regionalism

121 ridings!
Effects of Regionalism

Rise of regional political parties to better represent the

• Reform Party in the West → merged with Conservatives
• Bloc Quebecois in Quebec
• Confederation of Regions Party in New Brunswick
• Wild Rose party in Alberta – lost in last election (2012)
but now form the official opposition
Effects of Regionalism: Quebec
Effects of Regionalism: Quebec

Threat to Canadian unity

• Quebec – last sovereignty referendum in 1995 was
• Result of close referendum, federal Liberal Party
created the Sponsorship Program
• $250 million spent on promoting federalism in Quebec
by raising awareness
• Money was mismanaged – led to an inquiry
• Meech Lake Accord 1987
• Prime Minister Brian Mulroney wanted Quebec to sign
constitution but it didn’t happen – some provinces didn’t
pass it
Effects of Regionalism: Western Canada

• Western provinces felt undervalued and ignored

• Rise of Reform Party a result of this feeling
• 1879 – National Policy implemented by John A.
Macdonald – first prime minister of Canada
• Aim was to unite the different geographical regions
• Goal to change economy from natural resources to
• Put a tariff on goods imported into the country → these
products became more expensive (reason for this policy
was to protect Canadian manufacturers) but result →
farmers had to buy from mostly Ontario companies
Effects of Regionalism: Western Canada
Effects of Regionalism: Western Canada
• Farmers from the west feel that they were forced to help
build Ontario’s economy at their expense as most
manufacturing was in Ontario
• CF-18 fighter aircraft maintenance contract – three
companies bid on the job – one each from Manitoba,
Quebec, and Nova Scotia
• Contract awarded to Manitoba company (Bristol
Aerospace) but Quebec put enormous pressure on
• Took job away from Bristol Aerospace and gave it to
Quebec company
• Air Force HQ moved from Winnipeg to Ottawa
Effects of Regionalism: Western Canada

• Election coming and Conservatives needed the votes

from Quebec
Federal Gun Registry – people with guns forced to register
them – west and rural areas unhappy (hunters)
• Cost – over $1 billion
Kyoto Accord – adopted in Kyoto Japan December 1997
• Alberta with Tar Sands – critical to Alberta and
Canadian economy
• Concerned about environmental restrictions which could
be put in the Accord and lobbied the government to
ensure that their concerns were addressed –
government conceded
Effects of Regionalism: Western Canada

Farm Crisis
• Unknown outside of western Canada
• Federal Wheat Board – making decisions from Ottawa
• Western farmers believed they could make better
• Mergers of agricultural companies, international price
changes, weather (drought or too much rain), cost of
production have hit farmers – individual farm income
has decreased so that farmers must work on and off the
Effects of Regionalism: Northern Canada

• 2/3 of all Canadians live within 320km of the Canadian

• Going up North to Southern Ontarians means driving
approximately 2-4 hours north
• Northern Canada is ignored, misunderstood, and
severely underrepresented
Federal Government –Reducing Regionalism

How the federal government tries to reduce regionalism:

1. Reduce physical distances
• Canadian Pacific Railway – to join geographic areas
• Trans-Canada Airlines/Air Canada 1937 – private
companies would not fly to remote areas – AC now
• Via Rail
• Trans-Canada Highway
Federal Government –Reducing Regionalism

2. Spend money
• Transfer payments (pg. 11)
3. Promote understanding among Canadians
• Royal commissions – appointed by Federal Gov’t – travel
across Canada and research issues important to
Canadians – can recommend only – gov’t not required to
implement recommendations
• CBC television shows and documentaries
• CBC Radio – 1932, CBC TV 1952 – Canadian content
and forum for Canadians to promote culture, sports
• NFB - documentaries
The Sociopsychological Dimension of
Social psychology is the scientific study of how
people's thoughts, feelings, and behaviors are
influenced by the actual, imagined, or implied
presence of others.
• Canadians think and feel differently about each
other and about the federal government
•The “Canadian experience” depends on:
1. region of residence
2. job
3. language
The Sociopsychological Dimension of

• 2004 – 2005 Flag Removal – Newfoundland and

Labrador – because of disagreement between provincial
and federal gov’t about revenue sharing of oil and gas
The Sociopsychological Dimension of
The Sociopsychological Dimension of
• 1995 Fishing Dispute – Spanish ships in
Canadian water – fish stocks being depleted
(turbot and cod)
• Canadian Coast Guard arrested 2 Spanish ships

• Atlantic provinces finally see federal gov’t as
helping them
• Extensive coverage
Central Canada
• Reasons for ROC to be envious of Central Canada and
particularly Toronto
1. Economic Dominance – head offices located in Ontario
and Quebec – 20 of top 50 private companies
2. Political Dominance – electoral system – more seats
than any other region – 181 of 308
– Finance Minister typically from ‘Bay Street’
3. Cultural and Social Dominance
– CBC, Baton, Global TV, newspapers, publishing, fashion,
entertainment (theatres), National Ballet, symphony

• In order to understand life in Canada, regionalism must

be examined, especially the sociopsychological
•There are many different approaches to understanding
•The federal government is ultimately responsible for
minimizing regional differences