Breakup: Why the West Feels Left Out of Canada


218 pages
Contains Index
ISBN 1-55013-256-3
DDC 971.064






Reviewed by Greg Turko

Greg Turko is a policy analyst at the Ontario Ministry of Colleges and


This book provides an excellent taste of the rhetoric, myth, and emotion
that characterize Western Canada’s alienation within Confederation.
This is not to say, however, that it analyzes Western alienation: the
authors simply have too many pet causes and accept too many positions
and statements too uncritically for there to be any degree of
objectivity. Seemingly endless statements about the legendary
friendliness of Western people and the superior quality of Western
sunlight for making movies, as well as sweeping generalizations such as
Saskatchewan being “the gentlest province” do little to convince
readers that the authors want to do anything more than tell a certain
group of people what these people already know.

The thesis, in simplest terms, is that the West has been excluded from
the benefits of Confederation. In fact, according to the authors, the
West and Quebec have more in common than either region acknowledges. The
source of this perceived common interest is, of course, opposition to
alleged Ontario political and economic domination in general, and to the
role of Toronto in particular. The Toronto Star receives special
villification, because of the authors’ own journalistic backgrounds.

One of the proposed solutions—and there are many—involves adopting
the U.S. style of regional representation for the Canadian Senate,
resulting in an equal number of representatives from each region,
regardless of population. Canada could then, according to the authors,
enjoy benefits such as a federal budget arrangement similar to that of
the United States. This claim in itself makes the book unique: this is
probably the only written defence of the U.S. federal budget process
(written by someone not seeking election) in at least ten years.

This book is worth reading to get a flavor of the vehemence of Western
alienation from a “person on the street” perspective. The book
paints a disconcerting picture of this country’s future if the status
quo is maintained. However, it is even more disconcerting to contemplate
the country’s future if some of this book’s regressive solutions are


Braid, Don., “Breakup: Why the West Feels Left Out of Canada,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed July 19, 2024,