Beyond Alienation: Political Essays on the West


122 pages
Contains Bibliography
ISBN 1-55059-060-X
DDC 971.2'03




Reviewed by W.J.C. Cherwinski

W.J.C. Cherwinski is a history professor at Memorial University of
Newfoundland and co-author of Lectures in Canadian Labour and
Working-Class History.


Though published before the October 1993 general election, this
collection of six essays by the self-styled guru of western regionalism
helps shed light on that election.

Veterans of modern undergraduate Canadian history survey courses will
recognize in these essays the signposts of the West’s disenchantment
with the status quo in Confederation: exploitation of human and natural
resources in the West during the fur trade period, through the multiple
grievances associated with the National Policy, to the anger associated
with the National Energy Policy in the 1970s. Also outlined are the
consequences of that disenchantment (the Northwest Rebellion, the
Progressive Party, Social Credit, the CCF, the Western Canadian Concept,
CORE, and, finally, Reform).

However, Melnyk goes one step “beyond alienation” in his suggestion
that regional identity is based on more than disenchantment with the
treatment received within Canada. As Melnyk sees it, the West shares
with a part of the United States a geographic, social, political, and
cultural unity. With the advent of free trade and with the continued
importance of energy resources (and soon water) for continental markets,
the West will have an even greater role to play.

Beyond Alienation should do well in the current political climate, as
politicians and policy analysts alike scramble, as they did three
decades ago over expressions of Quebec disenchantment, to find an answer
to the question “What does the West want?”


Melnyk, George., “Beyond Alienation: Political Essays on the West,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed December 4, 2023,