Chapter 4 Regionalism and Canadian Politics
Regionalism: a political identity based on a shared sense of place. It may be linked to a variety of
cultural, economic, institutional, and historical factors that tend to distinguish the inhabitants of
one region of a country from those other regions.
• A larger territory encompassing a greater diversity of regional interests is more likely to
provide protection for personal freedoms, group rights and sectional interest than would a
smaller, more homogenous country – James Madison
o Although James Madison th
o ought it to be a positive to have this diversity in Canada, other than Trudeau most
Canadian thought it to be a burden.
o The expansion of Canada was seen by most as a necessary pre-emptive action to
reduce the possibility of the vast western territories being annexed by the United
The Unexpected Persistence of Regionalism
There has been an increase in regionalism in the last few decades
• this can be seen in the party system, western alienation, regional economic disparities,
and intergovernmental conflict.
The Party System: Regionalism is seen here because certain parties tend to get votes and seats
from certain regions of Canada. Ex. Liberals do well in Quebec while Conservatives tend to do
better in the west.
Western Alienation: Tension about regions receiving different treatment is seen here.
• the western provinces complain about the different treatment they receive in comparison
to Ontario and Quebec when speaking in terms of resources (Ontario and Quebec are
treated more favourably) from Ottawa.
Economic Disparities: The government spreads the wealth from taxes to poorer regions.
• between different regions like Ontario and New Brunswick.
• The political will to maintain redistributive transfers has become weaker in the last two
Intergovernmental Conflict: conflict of powers between the federal and provincial
• Today it is alive and intense in matters such as environmental policy, health care,
taxation, cities, and post-secondary education.
Along with regionalism people’s existences’ became more alike their values, beliefs and
Three principle factors help to explain the attraction and persistence of regionalism: 1. The degree to which regionally based states and elites may invest in regionalism when
this investment either serves their own interests or promotes their vision of what is in the
best interests of the regional community
• Province building: describes the phenomenon of powerful provincial governments
using the various constitutional, legal, and taxation levers available to them in order
to increase their control over activities and interests within their provincial borders
and their stature concerning Ottawa.
• Canada’s provincial governments had law-making and revenue-raising powers and
were consistently aiming at protect and extending their turf.
2. Failure of national institutions to produce levels of national integration which would
eliminate regional based ways of thinking and acting in Canadian politics.
• Inter-state federalism – conflict and cooperation are played out between the
national and regional governments
• Intra-state federalism – forces are contained within the institutions of the national
• National structures and policies intended to accommodate regional interests and
o The Senate – it tries to eliminate regionalism by assigning provinces the
same number of seats
o The Supreme Court – it has nine justices which is comprised of people from
all the provinces
o The Federal Cabinet – each prime minister must give special consideration
to the representation of each region
o Section 36 of Constitution – ensures the federal government spreads the
wealth to all provinces
o Media – CBC was developed so that every province gets media coverage
3. The persistence of differences in economic interests and social characteristics of regions.
• (Quebec 80% of the people have French as first language, 85% of people in
Nunavut are aboriginal)
Mapping Regionalism in Canada
• There are three ways of determining boundaries of regions: economics, values, and
Canada’s Economic Regions
• Common economic interests may provide a basis for classification of regions o Ex. The West’s reliance on grain production, Ontario’s reliance on a
o The regional variation in Canada’s industrial structure has often been the root of
major political conflicts between regions of the countr