As the dust settles on the 2019 Federal election, leaders on all sides have a lot to consider. This election was filled with personal attacks, scandals, and divisiveness. Individuals across the political spectrum expressed their disappointment with the selection of party leaders, with over one-third opting to vote strategically to stop a party from winning and to increase the chances of a minority government.
The rise of the Bloc Québécois and the Liberal shut-out in Western Canada are prime examples of the failure of the current government in uniting Canadians over the past four years. When analyzing the results of the 2019 election, it is clear that Canada is more divided than ever. The re-elected government under Prime Minister Justin Trudeau must work to resolve these alienations by ensuring that concerns from all over Canada are considered seriously and equally.
As a federation, with strong premiers and a varying geography, Canadian Prime Ministers have often struggled to appease all regions and foster national unity. From coast to coast, each province has unique interests, which sometimes conflict with one another. One of the most longstanding conflicts has been Western alienation.
Western alienation first appeared in 1980, when Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau introduced the National Energy Program (NEP). The NEP was highly controversial in Western Canada, especially in Alberta. It was seen as an attempt by the federal government to intrude on a matter which was under provincial jurisdiction—to capitalize on the booming oil industry.
In the present day, many of the issues fueling Western alienation still revolve around the oil industry. The current Trudeau government was highly criticized for their handling of the Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion, which would promote the growth of a struggling oil sector. Although the expansion is highly controversial due to its involvement of sacred Aboriginal land, many believe that halting the tax-payer funded purchase of the $4.5 billion pipeline would have consequently hindered the investments and jobs it could have brought to Alberta.
Western Canadians also claim to be burdened by an unfair equalization formula, lack of federal investment, and a burdensome carbon tax. They made their frustration clear at the polls, with Saskatchewan and Alberta failing to elect a single Liberal MP to represent them in Ottawa. In his current mandate, Prime Minister Trudeau must work to understand the frustrations of Western Canadians, despite being unable to consult any MPs from his party or appoint any cabinet ministers from Alberta or Saskatchewan. Trudeau must also attempt to support Alberta’s main industry and source of revenue while simultaneously addressing growing climate change concerns.
Carol Dinno is a former Vice-President of the UTM Campus Conservatives