Inspired by What US states are most likely to rebel?

I have seen many books, games, movies, short stories and even fun little side projects on the internet that all feature America breaking in civil war when one of their states has broken off. As a Canadian this made me ask, why does America get all the war?. Now I know the 'Dominion' of Canada is pretty laid back country, but lets say somehow that our new leader; Justin Trudeau has made the economic picture in Canada less than ideal. In fact bad enough that one of the Provinces (or territories) has thought 'I've had enough of this!'. What provinces or territory would be most likely to rebel against itself?

For all of you who don't know the provinces here is a wee little map; enter image description here


2 Answers 2


It's kinda obvious when you know pretty much anything about Canadian provinces. I'm actually surprised nobody answered (or commented) with this sooner.

The probabilities basically go like this:

  1. Quebec
  2. Newfoundland and Labrador (probably)
  3. and up: Everyone else (but one of the Maritimes is probably number 3)

To be precise: Quebec is very different from the rest of Canada. (For starters, they speak French, and don't particularly like English.) There was an actual, serious, independence referendum a few decades ago, which only failed narrowly. If stuff gets worse, Quebec is definitely the first to go.
Newfoundland (and Labrador) is the only other Canadian province that had been an independent country for any significant length of time (it didn't join the rest of Canada until the 1940s). So I'm confident enough in putting them second place (but it's a very distant second - Quebec is order of magnitudes more likely).

That said, look at your map carefully: if Quebec secedes, it splits Canada in half. (Not technically - Nunavut and Labrador share a common border, which is too tiny to show up on this scale - but certainly in practice; there are no roads that far north.)
So if Quebec secedes, other provinces (especially the Maritimes) are likely to follow, simply because they're now unreachable from the capital without crossing another country. I've seen a specific list of what will likely be involved and in what order, but don't remember it offhand, unfortunately.

  • 3
    $\begingroup$ If Quebec were to separate, the northern portion (formerly the District of Ungava) would separate from Quebec as the Cree people rejoined Canada. A northern transport and energy corridor to rejoin the Maritimes to Canada would be possible. As well, the St Lawrence Seaway is a Canada/US international waterway, and the US would not likely allow Quebec to interfere with the use of the passage $\endgroup$
    – Thucydides
    Mar 26, 2016 at 23:03

Canada has several fault lines, although Canadian political culture in general is much more accommodating than American political culture.

The two big fault lines are Quebec, and Western Canada.

Quebec has a different linguistic and legal system than the Rest of Canada, and for decades enjoyed special privileges from the political class due to the fact that any political party needed to hav a majority of seats in Quebec to have a chance of forming a majority government in Parliament. (This condition no longer applies as Canada's demographics and Parliamentary seat count shifted west. Governments since 2006 can now win a majority without winning Quebec). the political class of Quebec has stroked grievances and demanded special privileges for decades and the rest of Canada has acquiesced in order to preserve Confederation (and more crassly, to ensure that political parties could be elected).

Now that Quebec no longer has that special status of being needed to win elections, political parties can spread their capital and vote buying pork to other regions of the nation. The Quebec separatist movement could use this to finally create enough feeling of resentment to win a referendum for separation, although this would be a Pyrrhic victory at best, as parts of the province would then separate from the new "nation" to rejoin Canada. The northern part of Quebec is home of the Cree people, who are not at all interested in separation (and sit on a treasure trove of mineral and hydro wealth), the Eastern townships and a large part of the City of Montreal would also make a break for it. Quebec could be embroiled in a civil war while Canada sits on its hands and watches for the dust to settle.

Western Canada (Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta and BC), although not homogenous, are also generally resentful of being exploited by Eastern Canada for their mineral and agricultural wealth, without a corresponding say in Parliament. This also has changed over time, but even in the late 1980's, the populist "Reform Party" gained a huge following not for advocating separation, but with the slogan "The West wants in". Western Canadians bear the brunt of paying lots of taxes for the benefit (they see) of Eastern Canadians and particularly Quebec, and not getting a lot in return for the money. Now that demographic and economic power is building in the west, the idea of Western Separatism (always fairly tenuous at best) may be fading, but the last ditch attempt by the so called Laurentian Elites to turn back the clock under the new (2015) Liberal government might stroke resentments again, and certainly lead to much more rancour as Westerners see themselves being screwed again.

So Canada has two potential flash points, and they are actually interrelated. A particularly clumsy government (one not truly ready to govern) could end up firing up both the Quebec and Western separatists, one side demanding more handouts while the other side demanding more control over their own money and resources.

  • $\begingroup$ Isn't British Columbia (or at least the urbanized portions) heavily leftist? So if the western provinces broke away from the east, wouldn't BC almost immediately try to separate from Alberta &c? $\endgroup$
    – jamesqf
    Mar 24, 2016 at 3:54
  • $\begingroup$ @jamesqf not too heavily leftist, more so than alberta though. Alberta pipe dream to take the west with it...though if bc seperates its with washington and oregon in the cascadia movement. Alberta,sask, and manitoba is more likely without bc. Name of maritime seperation movement is atlantica. $\endgroup$
    – Twelfth
    Mar 24, 2016 at 4:33

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