Secessionist movements of Canada

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Map of active separatist movements in North America. Map of list of active separatist movements in north america.svg
Map of active separatist movements in North America.

There have been various movements within Canada for secession.



This list is composed of both historical and active movements for secession or autonomy.

Secessionist movements
The Doug flag at the Women's March on Portland Women's March on Portland - 71.jpg
The Doug flag at the Women's March on Portland
Results of the 1995 Quebec independence referendum. 49.42% voted in favour of independence. Quebec referendum, 1995 - Results By Riding.svg
Results of the 1995 Quebec independence referendum. 49.42% voted in favour of independence.

Flag of Alberta.svg Alberta [1]

Flag of British Columbia.svg British Columbia together with the Flag of Cascadia.svg Pacific Northwestern US (United States)

Flag of New Brunswick.svg / Flag of Prince Edward Island.svg / Flag of Nova Scotia.svg The Maritimes: New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, & Nova Scotia

Flag of Newfoundland and Labrador.svg Newfoundland and Labrador

Flag of Quebec.svg Quebec

Flag of Saskatchewan.svg Saskatchewan

Vancouver Island

Flag of Alberta.svg / Flag of British Columbia.svg / Flag of Manitoba.svg / Flag of Saskatchewan.svg Western Canada

Autonomist movements

Flag of Alberta.svg Alberta

Flag of Quebec.svg Quebec

Movements seeking independence from Canada

Newfoundland & Labrador

Independence flag of Newfoundland and Labrador, the Newfoundland Tricolour. Newfoundland Tricolour.svg
Independence flag of Newfoundland and Labrador, the Newfoundland Tricolour.

There is a secessionist movement in Newfoundland based on its unique history, and as a result of its grievances and broken promises with both the federal government and the government of Quebec. Prior to 1949 the area was a self-governing Dominion (Dominion of Newfoundland). "The root of our trouble is centred in the relationship between the two countries, between Newfoundland as a country and Canada" according to James Halley, a former lawyer involved in negotiating a deal to get Newfoundland into Canada in 1949. According to a July 2003 report, secessionism was on the rise [3] In 2004, a "flag flap" occurred when the premier of Newfoundland and Labrador Danny Williams removed all Canadian flags from government buildings and raised provincial flags instead. [4] Tensions have since eased; however, a non-organized movement has emerged amongst citizens and the ability of potential premiers to appeal to a strong sense of Newfoundland nationalism is imperative to forming a government.

The secessionist movement in Newfoundland and Labrador is most commonly associated with a flag under several names, including the "Pink, White and Green", "Flag of the Republic of Newfoundland & Labrador", or officially as the Newfoundland Tricolour.

Nova Scotia

Shortly after the Confederation of three British colonies (Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and the Province of Canada) to form the Dominion of Canada in 1867, opponents of Confederation in Nova Scotia began promoting the withdrawal of that province from the new confederation. The Anti-Confederation Party won 18 of the 19 Nova Scotia seats in the new House of Commons of Canada in the 1867 general election, and 36 of the 38 seats in the Nova Scotia legislature, but did not succeed in achieving independence for Nova Scotia.

In 1990, just before the failure of the Meech Lake Accord, then-premier John Buchanan predicted Nova Scotia and the rest of Atlantic Canada would have to join the United States if the accord failed. [5]


The Quebec sovereignty movement seeks independence from Canada for the province of Quebec. This movement often seeks what has been termed "sovereignty-association", which is sovereignty for Quebec within an economic association or union with the rest of Canada. Since the Quiet Revolution, the many available options have garnered support from Quebecers.

The sovereignty movement has spawned a variety of political parties, such as the Parti Québécois, a social democratic political party at the provincial level in Quebec that has governed the province for various periods since 1976, and the Bloc Québécois, which sometimes wins the majority of seats in Quebec. This party aims to promote Quebec's sovereignty and purports to defend the interests of Quebec at the federal level of government.

The Front de libération du Québec (FLQ), was a terrorist organization in the 1960s and early 1970s that used violence to promote independence for Quebec. Although they both advocated a sovereigntist agenda, the FLQ and its violent tactics were denounced by the Parti Québécois.

Since the Quiet Revolution, sovereigntist sentiments have been stoked by the patriation of the Canadian constitution in 1982 which was introduced without the consent of the National Assembly of Quebec and by numerous failed attempts at constitutional reform, which have sought to address Quebec's distinct society. Two provincial referendums, in 1980 and 1995, rejected proposals for sovereignty, with majorities of 60% in 1980 and only 50.6% in 1995, respectively. Given the narrow federalist victory in 1995, a reference was made by the Chrétien government to the Supreme Court of Canada in 1996 regarding the legality of a unilateral secession of Quebec. This resulted in the passage of the Clarity Act in 2000.

Western Canada

Numerous political parties in the western provinces, believing there to be no other solution for stemming apparent "Western alienation" by Central Canada, have sought independence. These movements are strongest in Alberta and British Columbia, but lesser ones exist in Saskatchewan and Manitoba. These movements have also assumed that Canada's northern territories (Yukon, Northwest Territories, and Nunavut) would also be a part of a new Western Canadian union. Parties advocating Western separation include the Western Canada Concept, the Western Independence Party, and the Western Block Party. These parties have not achieved much success, however.

In the early 1980s, in Saskatchewan, the Unionest Party advocated the western provinces join the United States.

In 1995, Premier of Saskatchewan Roy Romanow secretly formed a committee on consequences if Quebec seceded. The most seriously studied option was strengthening Saskatchewan's relationships with other western provinces because Romanow said in 2014, Ontario would become closer to the US economically and Atlantic Canada would become "an island". Other possibilities included also seceding from Canada, and joining the US. Romanow said that predecessor Allan Blakeney had similarly studied options for Saskatchewan during the 1980 Quebec referendum. [6]

On July 12, 2003, the Western Independence Party of Saskatchewan (WIPS) was created and registered as a Provincial Party, running candidates in 17 ridings in the 2003 Saskatchewan general election. It was de-registered in May 2019.

A poll by the Western Standard conducted from June 29, 2005, to July 5, 2005, finds 35.6% of residents of the four provinces think "Western Canadians should begin to explore the idea of forming their own country." [7]

On January 12, 2020, the Wexit party was formed federally. [8]


The Alberta Independence Party promoted independence for the province of Alberta, either on its own or in union with the other western provinces, in the 1990s, but it is now defunct. The Separation Party of Alberta nominated candidates in the 2004 Alberta provincial election.


In January–February 1868, a small group of settlers declared a Republic of Caledonia, later the Republic of Manitobah, at Portage-la-Prairie in Hudson's Bay Company land that was to be incorporated into Canada. These settlers aimed to use this declaration to obtain favourable terms (for themselves) for the entry of the area into Confederation. The declaration was not recognized by Canadian or British authorities, and the republic soon collapsed.

British Columbia and Yukon

Shortly after joining Confederation, British Columbia threatened to secede after the initial failure of the transcontinental railway promises which were one of its conditions for joining Canada. During the disputes over what led to the Columbia River Treaty, BC Premier WAC Bennett threatened to take BC out of Canada - and to take Yukon as well - if Ottawa and Washington would not accede to his demands.

There is an ongoing informal movement[ citation needed ] in British Columbia to create a separate country of Cascadia.

While Yukon lacks a formal separatist movement or party, there is an element of dissatisfaction in the territory as well.[ citation needed ] However, as anticipation of a Conservative government in Ottawa built, the number of Yukoners that would be in favour of secession (if it included British Columbia and Alberta) has steadily dropped from a high of 18% in August 2005 to a mere 8% by January 2006.[ citation needed ]

Many First Nations politicians and some First Nations in BC, nearly all claiming and still technically holding unceded sovereignty, want varying degrees of autonomy, with some asserting outright independence.[ citation needed ]

The Vancouver Island Party is the first secessionist movement that aims to secede from British Columbia and become a separate province by 2021, instead of leaving Canada like other secession movements. [9]

Other movements

Republic of Madawaska

The Republic of Madawaska occupied what is now the northwest corner of New Brunswick, and lies partially in Quebec and the American state of Maine. The origins of the so-called republic lie in the 1783 Treaty of Versailles, which established the border between the United States of America and the British North American colonies. The Madawaska region remained in dispute between Britain and the US until 1842. In Canada, Madawaska was considered part of Quebec until the 1850s, when the border with New Brunswick was modified. [10] The "Republic" is now a purely ceremonial entity.

Occasionally regions of Canada have declared themselves to be "independent" in a non-serious, satirical or promotional way. These "movements" are taken for what they are and not considered secessionist.

Republic of Rathnelly

The Rathnelly neighbourhood in Toronto made headlines in 1967, while celebrating Canada's 100th birthday. During the celebrations, Rathnelly residents playfully declared themselves as a republic independent of Canada. To mark their independence, the "Republic of Rathnelly" elected a queen, organized a parade, and issued Republic of Rathnelly passports to everyone in the neighbourhood. The new nation conscripted all 8- to 14-year-old citizens to form a militia, known as the Rathnelly Irregulars, and armed them with 1,000 helium balloons (the Rathnelly "air force"). The "Republic of Rathnelly" continues to hold annual street parties. [11]

See also

Related Research Articles

Provinces and territories of Canada Top-level subdivisions of Canada

The provinces and territories of Canada are sub-national divisions within the geographical areas of Canada under the jurisdiction of the Canadian Constitution. In the 1867 Canadian Confederation, three provinces of British North America—New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and the Province of Canada —united to form a federation, becoming a fully independent country over the next century. Over its history, Canada's international borders have changed several times, and the country has grown from the original four provinces to the current ten provinces and three territories. Together, the provinces and territories make up the world's second-largest country by total area.

Secession is the withdrawal of a group from a larger entity, especially a political entity, but also from any organization, union or military alliance. Some of the most famous and significant secessions have been: the former Soviet republics leaving the Soviet Union, Ireland leaving the United Kingdom, and Algeria leaving France. Threats of secession can be a strategy for achieving more limited goals. It is, therefore, a process, which commences once a group proclaims the act of secession. A secession attempt might be violent or peaceful, but the goal is the creation of a new state or entity independent from the group or territory it seceded from.

Quebec sovereignty movement Movement for Québécois independence

The Quebec sovereignty movement is a political movement as well as an ideology of values, concepts and ideas that advocates independence for the Canadian province of Quebec.

The Western Canada Concept was a Western Canadian federal political party founded in 1980 to promote the separation of the provinces of Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia, and the Yukon and Northwest Territories from Canada in order to create a new nation.

The Constitutional debate of Canada is an ongoing debate covering various political issues regarding the fundamental law of the country. The debate can be traced back to the Royal Proclamation, issued on October 7, 1763, following the signing of the Treaty of Paris (1763) wherein France ceded most of New France to Great Britain in favour of keeping Guadeloupe.

Regionalism is a political ideology which seeks to increase the political power, influence and/or self-determination of the people of one or more subnational regions. It focuses on the "development of a political or social system based on one or more" regions and/or the national, normative or economic interests of a specific region, group of regions or another subnational entity, gaining strength from or aiming to strengthen the "consciousness of and loyalty to a distinct region with a homogeneous population", similarly to nationalism. More specifically, "regionalism refers to three distinct elements: movements demanding territorial autonomy within unitary states; the organization of the central state on a regional basis for the delivery of its policies including regional development policies; political decentralization and regional autonomy".

Maritime Union Proposed political union of New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island

Maritime Union is a proposed political union of the three Maritime provinces of Canada – New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island – to form a single new province. This vision has sometimes been expanded to a proposed Atlantic Union, which would also include the province of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Canadian Senate divisions refers to two aspects of the Senate of Canada. First, it refers to the division of Canada into four regional Senate divisions of 24 senators each, as set out in the Constitution of Canada (as defined in subsection 52 of the Constitution Act, 1982, consisting of the Canada Act 1982, all acts and orders referred to in the schedule, and any amendments to these documents. The four regions are the Western Provinces, Ontario, Quebec and the Maritimes. These regions are intended to serve the Senate's purpose of providing regional representation in the Parliament of Canada, in contrast to the popular representation that the House of Commons is intended to provide. While not within any of the original four Senate divisions, Senate seats are also allocated to Newfoundland and Labrador and the three territories. The four divisions can be expanded when the need arises to have an extra two senators appointed to each regional division.

Alberta separatism Advocacy for Alberta seceding from Canada

Alberta separatism comprises a series of 20th and 21st century movements advocating the secession of the province of Alberta from Canada, either by joining the United States of America, forming an independent nation or by creating a new union with one or more of Canada's western provinces. The main issues driving separatist sentiment have focused primarily on the perceived power disparity relative to Ottawa and other provinces, historical grievances with the federal government dating back to the unrealized Province of Buffalo, a sense of distinctiveness with regards to Alberta’s unique cultural and political identity, and Canadian fiscal policy, particularly as it pertains to the energy industry.

Western alienation Phenomenon in Canadian politics

In Canadian politics, Western alienation is the notion that the Western provinces – British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba – have been alienated, and in extreme cases excluded, from mainstream Canadian political affairs in favour of the central provinces of Ontario and Quebec. Western alienation claims that these latter two are politically represented, and economically favoured, more significantly than the former, which has given rise to the sentiment of alienation among many western Canadians.

This article provides a timeline of elections in Canada, including all the provincial, territorial and federal elections. The information starts from when each province was joined Confederation, and continues through to the present day.

Outline of Canada Overview of and topical guide to Canada

The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to Canada:

This is a list of elections in Canada in 2015. Included are provincial, municipal and federal elections, by-elections on any level, referendums and party leadership races at any level.

Bibliography of Canadian provinces and territories Wikipedia bibliography

This is a bibliography of works on the Provinces and territories of Canada.

The Maverick Party, formerly known as Wexit Canada, is a Canadian federal political party. It advocates for constitutional change that will benefit the West, or the independence of Western Canada, which includes British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and the three territories. The former name was a play on Brexit, the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union. The party has its roots in Alberta separatism.

Cascadia Bioregional Party

The Cascadia Bioregional Party (BPC) is a political party that advocates for the bioregion of Cascadia to become an independent country, separate from the United States and Canada. The party also advocates positions such as energy independence, diversity, equality and inclusion, civil liberties and personal freedoms, indigenous sovereignty, transparent government and environmental sustainability.


  1. Cecco, Leyland; Agren, David (25 November 2019). "Wexit: Alberta's frustration fuels push for independence from Canada". The Guardian. ISSN   0261-3077 . Retrieved 25 November 2019.
  3. 1 July 2013
  4. 24 December 2014
  5. Rowley, Storer H. (1990-05-03). "Quebec Crisis Creates Talk About 4 Canadian Provinces Joining U.S." Chicago Tribune. Retrieved September 18, 2012.
  6. Warren, Jeremy (2014-08-26). "Secret Romanow group mulled secession". The StarPhoenix. Archived from the original on 2014-08-29.
  7. Dryden, Joel. "Wexit party granted eligibility for next federal election". CBC News. CBC News/Radio.
  8. Zussman, Richard (June 22, 2016). "New political party pushing for province of Vancouver Island" . Retrieved 23 June 2016.
  9. Mitchell map of 1850 shows Madawaska in QC, whereas Mitchell map of 1860 shows it in NB
  10. Carolyn Ireland (2013-04-11). "Where are Toronto's prime real estate pockets?". The Globe and Mail.