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Secessionist movements of Canada

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Title: Secessionist movements of Canada  
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Subject: Parti Indépendantiste, Alberta separatism, Western Canada, Bloc Québécois, Politics of Canada
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Secessionist movements of Canada

There have been various movements within Canada for secession.

Movements seeking independence from Canada

Newfoundland & Labrador

Independence flag of Newfoundland and Labrador, the Newfoundland Tricolour.

There is a secessionist movement in Newfoundland based on its unique history, and as a result of its grievances and broken promises with both the federal government and the government of Quebec. Prior to 1949 the area was a self-governing Dominion (Dominion of Newfoundland). "The root of our trouble is centred in the relationship between the two countries, between Newfoundland as a country and Canada" according to James Halley, a former lawyer involved in negotiating a deal to get Newfoundland into Canada in 1949. According to a July 2003 report, secessionism was on the rise[1] In 2004, a "flag flap" occurred when the premier of Newfoundland and Labrador removed all Canadian flags from government buildings and raised provincial flags instead.[2] Tensions have since eased, however, a non-organized movement has emerged amongst citizens and the ability of potential premiers to appeal to a strong sense of Newfoundland nationalism is imperative to forming a government.

The secessionist movement in Newfoundland and Labrador is most commonly associated with a flag under several names, including the "Pink, White and Green", "Flag of the Republic of Newfoundland & Labrador", or officially as the Newfoundland Tricolour.

Nova Scotia

Shortly after the Confederation of three British colonies (Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and the Province of Canada) to form the Dominion of Canada in 1867, opponents of Confederation in Nova Scotia began promoting the withdrawal of that province from the new confederation. The Anti-Confederation Party won 18 of the 19 Nova Scotia seats in the new Canadian House of Commons in the 1867 general election, and 36 of the 38 seats in the Nova Scotia legislature, but did not succeed in achieving independence for Nova Scotia.

In 1990, just before the failure of the Meech Lake Accord, then-premier John Buchanan predicted Nova Scotia and the rest of Atlantic Canada would have to join the United States if the accord failed.[3]


The Quebec sovereignty movement seeks independence from Canada for the province of Quebec. This movement often seeks what has been termed "sovereignty-association", which is sovereignty for Quebec within an economic association or union with the rest of Canada. Since the Quiet Revolution, the many available options have garnered support from Quebecers.

The sovereignty movement has spawned a variety of political parties, such as the Parti Québécois, a social democratic political party at the provincial level in Quebec that has governed the province for various periods since 1976, and the Bloc Québécois, which had four of Quebec's 75 seats in the Canadian House of Commons, but until recently regularly won the majority of seats in Quebec. This party aims to promote Quebec's sovereignty and purports to "defend the interests of Quebec" at the federal level of government.

The terrorist organization in the 1960s and early 1970s that used violence to promote independence for Quebec. Although they both advocated a sovereigntist agenda, the FLQ and its violent tactics were denounced by the Parti Québécois.

Since the Quiet Revolution, sovereigntist sentiments have been stoked somewhat by the patriation of the Canadian constitution in 1982 which was introduced without the consent of the National Assembly of Quebec and by numerous failed attempts at constitutional reform, which have sought to address Quebec's "distinct society". Two provincial referendums, in 1980 and 1995, rejected proposals for sovereignty, with majorities of 60% and 50.6%, respectively. Given the narrow federalist victory in 1995, a reference was made by the Chrétien government to the Supreme Court of Canada in 1996 regarding the legality of a unilateral secession of Quebec. This resulted in the passage of the Clarity Act in 2000.

Western Canada

The Métis, under the leadership of Louis Riel staged the Red River Rebellion in Manitoba against Canada in 1870, and the North-West Rebellion in Saskatchewan in 1885. At the time, this part of the West was relatively independent, francophone, culturally distinct, and facing the stress of dealing with aggressive colonization by Anglophones from Ontario.

Numerous political parties in the western provinces, believing there to be no other solution for stemming apparent "Western alienation" by Central Canada, have sought independence. These movements are strongest in Alberta and British Columbia, but lesser ones exist in Saskatchewan and Manitoba. These movements have also assumed that Canada's northern territories (Yukon, Northwest Territories, and Nunavut) would also be a part of a new Western Canadian union. Parties advocating Western separation include the Western Canada Concept, the Western Independence Party, and the Western Block Party. These parties have not achieved much success, however.

In the early 1980s, in Saskatchewan, the Unionest Party advocated the western provinces join the United States.

On July 12, 2003, the Western Independence Party of Saskatchewan (WIPS) was created [1] and registered as a Provincial Party, running candidates in 17 ridings in the Saskatchewan general election, 2003

A poll by the Western Standard conducted from June 29, 2005, to July 5, 2005, finds 35.6% of residents of the four provinces think "Western Canadians should begin to explore the idea of forming their own country." [2]


The Alberta Independence Party promoted independence for the province of Alberta, either on its own or in union with the other western provinces, in the 1990s, but it is now defunct. The Separation Party of Alberta nominated candidates in the 2004 Alberta provincial election.


In January–February 1868, a small group of settlers declared a Republic of Caledonia, later the Republic of Manitobah, at Portage-la-Prairie in Hudson's Bay Company land that was to be incorporated into Canada. These settlers aimed to use this declaration to obtain favourable terms (for themselves) for the entry of the area into Confederation. The declaration was not recognized by Canadian or British authorities, and the republic soon collapsed.

British Columbia and Yukon

Shortly after joining Confederation, British Columbia threatened to secede due to the initial failure of the transcontinental railway promises which were one of its conditions for joining Canada. During the disputes over what led to the Columbia River Treaty, BC Premier WAC Bennett threatened to take BC out of Canada - and to take Yukon as well - if Ottawa and Washington would not accede to his demands.

There is an ongoing informal movement in British Columbia to create a separate country of Cascadia.

While Yukon lacks a formal separatist movement or party, there is an element of dissatisfaction in the territory as well. However, as anticipation of a Conservative government in Ottawa built, the number of Yukoners that would be in favour of secession (if it included British Columbia and Alberta) has steadily dropped from a high of 18% in August 2005 to a mere 8% by January 2006.

Many First Nations politicians and some First Nations in BC, nearly all claiming and still technically holding unceded sovereignty, want varying degrees of autonomy, with some asserting outright independence.

Other movements

Republic of Madawaska

The Republic of Madawaska occupied what is now the northwest corner of New Brunswick, and lies partially in Quebec and the American state of Maine. The origins of the so-called republic lie in the 1783 Treaty of Versailles, which established the border between the United States of America and the British North American colonies. The Madawaska region remained in dispute between Britain and the US until 1842. In Canada, Madawaska was considered part of Quebec until the 1850s, when the border with New Brunswick was modified.[4] The so-called "Republic" is now a purely ceremonial entity.

In popular culture

Occasionally regions of Canada have declared themselves to be "independent" in a non-serious, satirical or promotional way. These "movements" are taken for what they are and not considered secessionist.

Republic of Rathnelly

The [5]

Kingdom of L'Anse-Saint-Jean

A millennial tourist-attracting project involved the town of L'Anse-Saint-Jean, Quebec, "declaring" itself an independent monarchy. The project, which enjoyed a certain amount of media coverage, was cheerfully admitted to be tongue-in-cheek.

See also


  1. ^ 1 July 2013
  2. ^ 24 December 2014
  3. ^ Rowley, Storer H. (1990-05-03). "Quebec Crisis Creates Talk About 4 Canadian Provinces Joining U.S.". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved September 18, 2012. 
  4. ^ Mitchell map of 1850 shows Madawaska in QC, whereas Mitchell map of 1860 shows it in NB
  5. ^ Carolyn Ireland (2013-04-11). "Where are Toronto’s prime real estate pockets?". The Globe and Mail. 
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