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58% of Atlantic Canadians agree the country 'is more divided than ever'

A new poll from Ipsos Reid asked Canadians their feelings on Western separatism
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A new poll from Ipsos Reid has asked Canadians their feelings on Western separatism.

Across the country, the survey of just over 1,000 people found that 47 per cent of people agree that Western Canada has reason to be mad about how the federal government treats them.

"For decades they were helping the rest of the country through equalization payments, and now they're in their time of need and not getting really the one thing that they're asking for," says Sean Simpson, Vice President of Public Affairs for Ipsos Reid.

Those polled within Alberta and Saskatchewan were most likely to agree that their provinces deserved better, at 83 per cent and 70 per cent, respectively.

But those in other parts of the country didn't necessarily feel sympathetic.

"People in Alberta are not happy and the same can be said for many folks in Saskatchewan, and the rest of the country is playing the world's smallest violin for them," Simpson tells NEWS 95.7. "Opoiions are very split on it."

In Atlantic Canada as well as Quebec, only 35 per cent of people felt the federal government treated those provinces unfairly.

"At the end of the day I think folks in the Prairies want to see some tangible benefits, tangible action, which then manifests itself in a growing economy," adds Simpson.

Simpson says these tensions make for a very politically divided Canada. The Ipsos poll found that 58 per cent of Atlantic Canadians agreed the country was more divided than ever before.

"That seems to be a very high bar because I can remember the 90s going through a referendum where we were 0.1 percentage points away from tearing this country apart. So the fact that 57 per cent think we're more divided than ever means that there's a serious underlying issue here in Canada," he adds.

That Quebec referendum failed by a mere fraction of a percent, but Simpson says he isn't yet worried such a referendum could happen in Alberta. When Ipsos asked about separation, 31 per cent of Albertans said the province would be better off away from the rest of the country.

"Thirty-one per cent is certainly enough to make noise and draw attention and Jason Kenney is obviously feeling that and using that as leverage," he says. "Thirty-one per cent isn't anywhere close to 51 per cent, but you never want to discount these things."

Notably, just 26 per cent of Quebec residents said their province would be better off.

"It's higher in Alberta than it is in Quebec right now, so the shoe's on the other foot," Simpson adds.

In total, only 19 per cent of Canadians said their province should separate from Canada. For Atlantic Canadians, only 15 per cent favoured separation.

The final question -- two months after the most recent federal election -- asked Canadians whether they felt the federal government could unite the country.

In Atlantic Canada, 39 per cent of people thought so, while that number ranged as low as 23 per cent in Alberta and as high as 54 per cent in Quebec.



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Victoria  Walton

About the Author: Victoria Walton

Victoria is HalifaxToday.ca's weekend editor and a Halifax-based freelancer. She is originally from Nova Scotia's Annapolis Valley.
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