Historical map of Vancouver Island from 1913 (Courtesy of ViHistory)

EDITORIAL: Forget Wexit, it’s time to talk about the separation of Vancouver Island

Vancouver Island separation — like most separation ideas — is a better idea, than reality

The moment a Liberal minority government was forecast on election night, collective angst from Manitoba to eastern B.C. echoed across social media.

Of all the conservative dread, the loudest cries came from Alberta — Canada’s conservative stronghold — now calling for separation in a movement dubbed Wexit.

Some configurations of the proposed Wexit map include B.C. while others stop at the Alberta border. Regardless of what the Wexiteers decide, it probably won’t happen for a number of reasons. However, since separation is a hot topic these days, there’s an important separation movement that should be considered: Vancouver Island separation — or for the sake of being trendy — Viexit.

Viexit has historical precedent. The early 1900s saw wealthy Vancouver Islanders petitioning for the Island to become an independent British colony. During the colonial period, Vancouver Island was the economic powerhouse of B.C.. After Vancouver Island was united with the mainland in 1866, the Island saw its status transferred to the shiny new colonies of New Westminster and Vancouver. A litany of historical grievances followed.

Over time, Viexit evolved. Island separatists no longer wanted to leave the country, instead they demanded to become their own province.

At the forefront of that movement is the Vancouver Island Party. Under their terms for confederation, the party wants to increase the number of MPs to 12, and Senators to 10. They also demand forgiveness of provincial debt — to be paid for by Ottawa.

An attractive proposal includes free ferry rides for individuals driving, including passengers or walk-on coming or going from Vancouver Island on major and minor routes; reduced fares on cars and other vehicles, and substantially reduced fares for the movement of freight. The Vancouver Island Party would also add a Haida Gwaii Express route from Port Hardy. Paid for in part by Ottawa, the B.C. provincial government, and the new Vancouver Island provincial government.

The primary focus of the Vancouver Island Party is fighting climate change, as well as building protective dykes and seawalls to mitigate damage from rising sea levels. This demand — of course — will be paid for by Ottawa.

Viexit sentiment has stirred on the Island for nearly 100 years. It’s unlikely the Vancouver Island Party’s proposals will take root any time soon.

Whether it’s Viexit, Wexit, Brexit, or Grexit, separation schemes always seem a lot better as ideas than they are in reality.

In Canada, regional divisions and frustrations are very real. No matter how bitter relationships between some provinces and the federal government may become, it’s important to remember that the country is far stronger together than provinces could ever be separated.

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