Justin Trudeau’s two Canadas

Prime Minister Trudeau takes part in the Symons Lecture in Charlottetown. November 23, 2017. /// Le premier ministre Trudeau prend part à la causerie Symons, à Charlottetown. 23 novembre 2017.

You may have heard that the latest public opinion poll from a major Canadian firm shows Justin Trudeau and his Liberals recovering ground they lost in the days and weeks after his trip to India. While Trudeau’s Punjabi Pratfall may be fading from the memory of voters, the divide he is developing in this country is all too real.

The latest numbers from Ipsos show Trudeau’s Liberals have regained the lead nationally at 36%, the Conservatives are at 35% and the NDP is at 20%. It’s not the national numbers that interest me as much as the deep divide in this country that is driven by geography.

What we are witnessing, in ways that I have not seen before, is the development of two Canadas, divided you might say by the Ottawa River that separates Ontario from Quebec.

From the Quebec side of the Ottawa River to the far shores of Newfoundland, Justin Trudeau and his Liberals hold sway in the hearts and minds of voters. In Ontario, Trudeau’s Liberals and Andrew Scheer’s Conservatives do battle and are currently tied in terms of voter support.

West of Ontario though, it is a land mostly dominated by Scheer and the Conservatives.

Reading this poll nationally, while taking regional breakdowns into consideration, either party could win a majority and if they did, they would do so while effectively being ignored by half the country.

This isn’t good.

I’ve been working with the guys at Ipsos since 2005 when I moved to Parliament Hill to be the Ottawa Bureau Chief for Newstalk 1010 in Toronto and CJAD in Montreal. At one point, during the Harper minority years, I covered their polls on a sometimes weekly basis. I never remember a divide as stark as this.

In the last election Trudeau and his Liberals not only took half the seats in Manitoba, they scored four seats in Alberta and several in the British Columbia interior, in the Okanagan and other areas outside of Vancouver. There was a time when you could count the Liberals between say, London, Ontario and Vancouver, on one hand. Trudeau changed that.

I’m not sure it would stay that way if an election were held today. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if Trudeau were to lose seats in Manitoba, Saskatchewan and B.C. never mind an annihilation in Alberta.

Meanwhile, Scheer and the Conservatives would remain shut out, or damn near shut out in Atlantic Canada, retain their seats in the Quebec City region but not really breakthrough otherwise in the rest of Quebec.

The whole election would come down to Ontario with East and West staring at each other across the most populous province shaking their respective fists at each other.

This is no way to run a country and will only lead to greater divides.

Darrell Bricker, the CEO of Ipsos Global Public Affairs agrees there is a divide.

“There is this new Canada and there is an older Canada,” Bricker said. “The new Canada is the place that is really being fueled by growth and immigration and economic prosperity.”

Bricker describes the new Canada as the suburbs around Toronto and moving west to Vancouver.

“Then you’ve got kind of old Canada that exists east of the Ottawa River in Quebec and Atlantic Canada.”

Bricker points to past divides in Canadian politics, claiming this is nothing new. In some senses he is correct, Jean Chretien swept Ontario to secure his majorities, In Pierre Trudeau’s day the actual internal slogan was, “Screw the West, we’ll take the rest.”

Yet now seems different, starker, entrenched.

I remember when Stephen Harper was prime minister with a strong showing from the West, solid support in Ontario and decent support in Quebec and Atlantic Canada. Yet we were told by our media masters of the day that Harper didn’t run a truly national government because it was too weighted in Western Canada.

Right now, Trudeau’s majority relies on Quebec and Atlantic Canada with support from Ontario. If an election were held tomorrow, Trudeau would lose support everywhere west of the Ottawa River. Perhaps he could retain power but it would be with a government that relies on one main area for all of it’s support.

If Scheer were to win at this point it would be much the same, only reversed.

Whether Trudeau is PM or Scheer takes over, having a government built on one half of the country while ignoring the other is not healthy for democracy.

What the answer is, I don’t know.


  • The answer. From the mid-point of L.Superior, install a big beautiful border fence straight north. And let the Trudeau foundation pay for it.

    • T bone, exactly. That’s where I’ve been since 1980 … an Alberta separatist.

  • It actually would be great if enough people smartened up in the west and split. Ottawa no longer represents us. The Laurentian Elite want hewers of wood and drawers of water, and will not allow another Harper to be elected.

  • When Stephen Harper won his majority in 2011, the Conservatives were the closest thing to a national government that Canada has seen in decades. While much of his strength was in the west, he had decent support in Ontario, and I don’t believe he was shut out completely in any province, and had double digit seats in Quebec, an accomplishment for the CPC. Trudeau can only dream of having support which is as across the board as Harper, yet the Liberals denigrate Harper constantly. Me thinks they do protest too much!

  • Trudeau and the Liberals are, unknowingly, Western separatism’s greatest allies. Another Trudeau government will seal the fate of the West. Personally, I can’t wait.

  • Trudeau must divide before he can conquer and reform Canada in his post national vision this is all part of the fasser and butts greenwashs it. It really is quite something and how fast this con try is fleeting capital industry and we can’t get our products to markets and we have open borders all in 2 years. Who would have thought that. My my

  • “Screw the West, we’ll take the rest.”, says it all and it’s still that way with politicians back east. I think eastern Canada could care less about what happens west of the Ontario border.
    I’m in BC and I’d just love to separate along with the prairie provinces. There’s a lot of people in BC that have been thinking about separating for years.

  • Don’t assume anything … the reality is, voters have short memories and the Conservatives need to keep hammering and sharing with Canadians all the things Trudeau and his cronies have done … there are so many to choose from!!!!! And if we have learned anything from our neighbour to the south, we should have learned that polls cannot be trusted. All Canadians need to know is that we cannot have Trudeau at the helm any longer – he is destroying this country and it will be irreversible if he stays in power for another term.

  • Maritimers sell their vote to the highest bidder.
    Whoever promises them the most handouts wins.

  • Western separation is mandatory. Can be any and all forms. We are 2 very different countries we need a head of state that understands what we need and want just as the east does. Maybe that Brad guy from swift current wouldn’t be to busy? The main media absolutely sickens me I used to watch the news every night. See what’s going on in the country and the world now I’m filled with anger. They didn’t seriously say that or give more of our taxes there, he went where again? With how many photographers?! … these are all real questions I ask the tv to no reply.

    Split the debt on a per capita basis we will show our selves out!

  • Surely it makes a difference that they are, one and all, have-not provinces. They have no incentive to vote for a government that would insist that they get off welfare. The other provinces must consider whether keeping Canada together is worth supporting them forever. It is a choice.

  • So you’re telling me it rests on the hands of Ontarians like me? Well, don’t expect my local riding be Conservative anytime soon. From what looked up, it’s been heavily Liberal for a long time with one instance of NDP rile in more recent years. Conservative votes didn’t even come close.

  • Seperation of Western Canada.
    Trudeau himself has shown total disdain for us long before his ascension to the throne. The problem is that we are 40 years too late. Leftism and Political Correctness has supremely sunk their disgusting teeth into all aspects of society from Academia, Education, Politics and business….for me I would entertain leaving Canada. Either the US or South America..had enough of QUEBEC and THEIR BS to last a lifetime. Nothing good ever came out of that whinning bunch of freeloaders.
    To hell with them all.

    3 FRench PM’s in my lifetime and not one has done squat for the country but kiss Quebec ASS….ALWAYS while given the West the middle finger.

  • Quite frankly I am now a staunch supporter of western separation. So are all of my family. And we live in Ontario.

    All of our houses (8) and farms (3) are for sale and we plan to move west – back to the land we came from about 20 years ago and never to return to the eastern welfare provinces.