Loyal No More: Ontario's Struggle for a Separate Destiny


225 pages
Contains Photos, Bibliography, Index
ISBN 0-00-200030-X
DDC 971.3




Reviewed by Ashley Thomson

Ashley Thomson is a full librarian at Laurentian University and co-editor or co-author of nine books, most recently Margaret Atwood: A Reference Guide, 1988-2005.


The central theme of this book is stated early on: “Ontario is
becoming estranged from Confederation. The most visible manifestation of
that estrangement is the growing rift between Queen’s Park and
Parliament Hill.” Ibbitson, a columnist with the Globe and Mail, takes
the story back to pre-Confederation days and then retraces the
province’s political history, pausing especially on those premiers who
were at loggerheads with the federal government (Mowat, Hepburn, Rae,

Party ideology does not appear to have been a significant determinant
in federal–provincial relationships. In some instances of conflict,
the federal and provincial regimes represented different political
parties (Macdonald vs. Mowat); in other instances, they did not (King
vs. Hepburn). For Ibbitson, economics offers the best explanation. When
the federal government worked to secure the interests of the provincial
heartland, Ontario was quiescent; when it appears to have opposed
provincial economic interests, the fight was on. As the United States
became more important to Ontario’s economy in the wake of the Free
Trade Agreement, the significance of other provinces lessened, and
Ontario began to resent being drained of its riches by a federal
government determined to divert them outside its borders (and, in
particular, to Quebec).

The increasing federal–Ontario cooperation that has characterized the
early months of the Ernie Eves government would suggest that the
relationship may best be understood on an issue by issue, personality by
personality basis, and that Ibbitson may be unduly pessimistic about the
future. The fact remains that whatever is going on provincially, Ontario
sends more MPs to Parliament than any other province; no prime minister
is likely to lose sight of that electoral reality.


Ibbitson, John., “Loyal No More: Ontario's Struggle for a Separate Destiny,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed February 21, 2024, https://cbra.library.utoronto.ca/items/show/7708.