Separatism in BC: the Province of Vancouver Island?

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BC Legislature by Patrick Hui

It was just 18 years ago that the question of separatism riled all of Canada and put the future of the nation in jeopardy. A group has recently declared themselves as Vancouver Island separatists and although they are not nearly as ambitious or passionate as those who demanded for the creation of a new Quebec nation, they are campaigning for the separation of Vancouver Island from British Columbia into the new 11th Canadian province of Vancouver Island.

According to a recent Global News report, the Vancouver Island Province Movement is looking all the way back to the Island’s colonial history before it was merged with the B.C. Mainland in 1866. They have also referred to the precedent set by Prince Edward Island as a Canadian province (population of 140,000) and that Vancouver Island is bigger than an additional five other provinces and territories by population.

The group is working with a timeline of separating Vancouver Island (the largest island off the western coast of North America) by 2021, taking with it a current population of 760,000 (B.C.’s total population is 4.4-million) and surviving with an economy based on forestry, mining, and tourism. It would also mean that the British Columbian Mainland would need to find a location for its own provincial capital.

Of course, it is infinitely unlikely the movement will be able to gain the traction it would need to initiate serious public debate never mind actual separation from the province. It might be worthy to note that Vancouver Island merged with the Mainland in 1866 partially because of its insurmountable economic and financial crisis.

It appears that those who are proposing such a separation may be grossly neglecting Vancouver Island’s economic reliance on the Mainland and its Metro Vancouver region, and the 147-years of British Columbian history the Island and Mainland have produced together. The creation of a smaller economic bloc and political voice within Canada may not be the best idea considering the challenges and new realities that face our nation and world today. What would happen to and who would fund the highly provincial government subsidized BC Ferries?

Western separatist movements are not anything new and have mainly centred around the idea of B.C. and Alberta leaving Canadian Confederation together to form a new country in response to Ottawa’s long history of Western alienation. More unlikely was another independence movement’s idea for the creation of Cascadia – a new nation merged from the territories of British Columbia, Washington State and Oregon.

 

Featured Image: Patrick Hui

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