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Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Anti-Federal Sentiment on The Rise in Newfoundland and Labrador

A poll conducted in 2004 shows that the public’s trust in the federal government to do a good job has declined sharply in the past two years. This is true for most of the Country, however the most dramatic case is in Atlantic Canada where this trust has slipped from 66% in 2002 to 34% in 2004 – a decrease of 32 points in 2 years.

Of course these results are based on a poll of Atlantic Canadians, but it is doubtful the result would favour Ottawa any more if it had been limited to Newfoundland and Labrador. In fact the numbers would likely be lower.

Add to this the results of other NL specific polls and it is clear to see that separatist sentiment may be growing in the province.

Not surprisingly, a poll of Newfoundlanders and Labradoreans conducted yearly between 1989 and 1997 and available at Queens University, shows a lack of trust in the federal system in this province.

The poll asked the question: In your opinion, does the current federal government treat all regions of the country equally or does it favour one region over others?

In 1989 the results were:

Equality Exists: 40.9%
Favoritism Exists: 52.3%
Don’t Know: 4.5%

By 1997 the results looked like this:

Equality Exists: 19%
Favoritism Exists: 73.8%
Don’t Know: 7.1%

Another poll, also available through Queens University posed the following question to Newfoundlanders and Labradoreans over a period of 9 years.

Do you feel you are more a citizen of Canada or NL?

The results show a major shift in sentiment over that time.

In 1989, the year the first poll results are available, the result was nearly split down the middle. At that time, 40.9% felt they were Canadian citizens, 38.6% felt more a citizen of NL while 18.2% claimed they felt equally citizens of both.

In the most recent year of the poll, 1997, the number of respondents who considered themselves equally citizens of Canada and NL remained largely unchanged at 19% however the majority of opinion had shifted dramatically with 21.4% choosing Canada and 59.5% choosing NL.

Nearly a decade has passed since the latest poll was conducted and one has to wonder what the results of such a survey would indicate today. With taxes at an all time high, little federal representation, long waiting lists for health care services and a continuing feeling of being forgotten, or even being taken advantage of by Ottawa on resource issues, it’s doubtful the result would speak well for provincial feelings on the value of Confederation.

Poll results can vary greatly depending on what is happening at any given point in time and as a result should be viewed with caution. No matter the result of any given day, it is clear that there is a growing resentment and lack of trust for Ottawa across the country with Atlantic Canada and perhaps NL leading the way.

No recent polling data is available on these subjects within the province, however the general feeling is that separatist, or NL nationalist, sentiment is more prevalent than it has been in the past 50 years.


steve said...

ummm... nice to see that your articles are carried a good portion of the time on the Canada Free Press site. At least that way they can get the headline corrected :)...

As of this morning... the headline is "Federal Sentiment on Rise in Atlantic Canada"...

Apparently, they don't want to be seen as Anti....

Patriot said...

Thanks for the catch. I've let my contact at the Canada Free Press know about the erroneous headline, which I'm sure is just a typo.