Search this site powered by FreeFind

Quick Link

for your convenience!


Human Rights, Youth Voices etc.

click here


For Information Concerning the Crisis in Darfur

click here


Northern Uganda Crisis

click here


 Whistleblowers Need Protection




This book is a call for full political, economic and cultural equality for Western Canadians within Confederation. It is a product of long observation. I have had the good fortune to know many Westerners and their communities, from Lake of the Woods on the Manitoba-Ontario boundary to Pacific Rim National Park on the west coast of Vancouver Island to Yellowknife, Northwest Territories. Hunting ducks, my father and I trudged through hundreds of marshes and barley fields, and we sat in farm kitchens across Manitoba and Saskatchewan many fall weekends during the 1950s.

My roots in prairie Canada were later extended by a period as Crown Attorney for Dauphin Judicial District in western Manitoba. In Alberta during the 1970s, court work took me from Fort Chipewyan near the sixtieth parallel (population 1,000, and essentially what it had been in 1800 -- the local Hudson’s Bay Company store manager still a recruit from the Scottish Hebrides) to Pincher Creek in the most southerly ranching region. Earlier, in British Columbia, I was a part-time residence master at St. George’s school in Point Grey, and an assistant Vancouver City Prosecutor, travelled by canoe down the gorge of Vancouver Island’s Nitinat Lake to the Pacific Ocean, galloped a horse at low tide along Spanish Banks near the University of British Columbia, and ran for Parliament in 1968 in the Vancouver Centre constituency.

At the University of Toronto law school in 1962, I discovered that some Canadians were more equal than others. Later, as a University of Toronto delegate at a student conference in Quebec City, I watched with sadness how other student representatives and journalists appeared to defer to our delegation. What would be the long-term psychological impact of such attitudes on "outer Canadians" everywhere? I wondered then; I wonder now. With our self-proclaimed national media, publishing houses, theatres and so on, continuously under-representing most regions of Canada, as they do, what happens to regional pride and self-respect? Their failure, for instance, to tell Canadians at large about Frederick Haultain of Saskatchewan has caused this genuine regional giant to be all but forgotten, even to prairie Canadians.

This book is thus also meant to encourage Westerners to take greater pride in our contribution to Canada. For non- Westerners, it attempts to present the modern West free of dead stereotypes and cliches.

The book’s title is intended to communicate the reality that, while almost all 7.3 million of us who live to the west and north of Lake of the Woods (Kenora, the Yukon, and the western half of the Northwest Territories are included here as parts of the West) love Canada deeply, many have serious misgivings about our past and present role within Confederation. Uneasy Patriots is written from the perspective of one who believes you can be both a good "regionalist," or "provincial," and a good Canadian. I make no apology for being a western nationalist in this sense; indeed, I believe it a major weakness of our current practice of so-called executive democracy in Ottawa that until recently fighting publicly and unapologetically for constituents’ interests was the exclusive prerogative of Central Canadian MPs. Those who believe the weekly closed-door caucuses of any of our three national political parties adequately reflect, over the longer term, the priorities and legitimate concerns of the eight outer provinces are deluding themselves.

There is a distressing array of evidence, some of it set forth in this book, of Western Canadians not yet enjoying the same political, economic and cultural privileges their fellow Canadians enjoy who live in or near Ottawa, Toronto and Montreal. Few Westerners would feel the distinction is as great as between, say, Parisians and other Frenchmen. But the differences that do exist seriously harm national unity. The chapters on alienation, old and new, are an attempt to put this important question in perspective and to suggest some remedies. I hope public and private policy-makers in the three favoured cities who read this book will better appreciate the attitudinal and institutional nature of the problem. We Westerners are patient, but the time for addressing some basic issues effectively is long overdue.

Critics of my viewpoint will say that compared with Atlantic Canadians, non-metropolitan Quebeckers, or northern Ontarians, Westerners "have it good." This misses the point. We Westerners want nothing for our region that we don’t seek in equal measure for every part of Canada. Nor do we wish to weaken stable and diverse communities in Central Canada. We want prosperity, stability and opportunity promoted vigorously everywhere as a matter of basic national policy. How can Canadian officials continue to give speeches abroad on justice when some of our best-known national government agencies blatantly discriminate against Western Canada and other regions of the country?

Native peoples in both the West and the North have their own distinct reasons for feeling alienated from Confederation, and I have attempted to outline these in the chapter entitled, "Native Peoples: Civilizations Collide." "My West" gives profiles of a number of Westerners I have come to know personally over the years. Their individual stories arc fair microcosms of Western Canadian life as a whole. "An International Community: The Peoples of the Region" attempts to reach the roots of our unique cultural mosaic and to explain what Westerners are all about. "Making a Western Living" deals with a subject of prime importance to the region and addresses the issue of diversification in an increasingly interdependent and competitive world economy.

The intermezzos on western giants feature five men and women from different places in the West who reflect well the frontier spirit of our region. Each of this group helped to create a Western Canada of which more than seven million of us today can be truly proud. All of them, including Rid, believed that it is possible to be loyal to one’s region and to one’s country. The West about which they dreamed often unrealizable dreams lives on for the better because of them.

At a dinner I attended with my wife at the home of an ambassador in Ottawa soon after the Calgary Olympic Games, two European ambassadors expressed astonishment at the nature and extent of the community spirit each had witnessed at those historic Games. One ambassador said he had been chauffeured by a volunteer who had devoted a two-week vacation to help out. A computer-expert volunteer said he had donated his two weeks because "Calgary has been good to me." Both diplomats declared no country in Europe hosting the Games could muster anything like the same level of resident commitment. There was later a general toast to the Calgary Games, and the host ambassador called upon Western Canadians to relocate to Europe.

Most Western Canadians are optimistic about our national future. Canadians everywhere have a well-deserved reputation for compromise and fairness. Westerners, moreover, are deeply committed to the proposition that we live in the most fortunate country on earth. This feeling has been demonstrated on myriad occasions, including a pre-Canada Day church service held in south-east Edmonton earlier this year. The building was filled with people of all ages and cultural backgrounds. A boy scout carried in the flag of each province in the order in which the ten provinces had entered Confederation. Patriotic hymns were sung and messages extolled Canada’s many virtues. Not a single word was uttered on any western grievance. Readers might keep this snapshot in mind in reacting to parts of this book.

David Kilgour
September, 1988


Home Books Photo Gallery About David Survey Results Useful Links Submit Feedback