Polarized like never before: Hard work ahead to bring Canada together, expert says

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – Looking at the political map of Canada today, it is divided along some very hard lines.

Canadians have come out of the federal election polarized. Urban islands of Liberal red have been separated by a sea of Tory blue from the B.C. Interior to Manitoba, all while neighbouring the Bloc Quebecois resurgence in the east.

Cara Camcastle, a political science professor at UBC, highlights the divisiveness in the country.

“The fragmentation, polarization of Canada – there are going to be so many new challenges ahead for any government in power to bring the country together, and Canadian unity is a big issue, as well as federalism,” she explains.

She points out the dividing lines could be considered climate-based,

“The United Nations is suggesting that Canada and other countries have to take action on climate change to mitigate the effects of climate change fairly rapidly, within the next decade,” Camcastle explains. “But that will mean a need to transition the economy to something different, and there will be many people that will be affected negatively by this.”

With areas reliant on resource-extraction growing increasingly worried about any transition away from the traditional economy to a green one, Camcastle says it’s important the feds do what they can to assist.

“There will be many people that will be affected negatively by this, so governments have to work to find ways to help them transition,” she explains. “And Alberta and Saskatchewan feel alienated, they feel that this is going to hurt their economies more than the rest of Canada. We have to find a way to deal with this.”

Camcastle notes polarization isn’t just an issue in Canada. She says there are other countries where this scenario is playing out, and believes there’s a transformation taking place as more and more people “demand they have a say in government, that the governments are responsive to them.”

“And I think one of the other things in Canada, as well as elsewhere, is it’s not populism as such as democratic reform, and reforming your systems to make them more responsive to the people. Here in Canada, with the rise of the Greens, support of the NDP, there’s a desire for, a momentum for electoral reform, also, and then some want to retain the current system, on the other hand.”

When it comes to a “remedy” to the polarization we’re witnessing here, Camcastle says electoral reform could help.

With files from Kurtis Doering

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