Friday, August 05, 2005

Fun with figures: Western separatism is declining

The recent story in the Western Standard claims that separatist sentiments in the west are soaring. 43% of Albertans agreed with the statement “Western Canadians should begin to explore the idea of forming their own country”.

This struck me as rather remiscent of a poll conducted by the same pollster and same firm three years ago. (On the methodology of that poll see here.) It asked what Albertans should do if Kyoto was confirmed: 55% said they would be open to considering separation if Kyoto were ratified.
Calgary Sun
November 18, 2002 Monday, Final Edition
SECTION: News; Pg. 3

by Michelle Mark, Calgary Sun

Most Albertans would rather talk separation than take the Kyoto Protocol lying down, results of a new poll show. In fact, more than 55% of the 1,204 Albertans approached by JMCK Polling said they would be open to those possibilities if Kyoto is ratified against Albertans' wishes.

"Support (for Kyoto) is continuing to drop in Alberta," said pollster Faron Ellis, who conducted the research. "In a hypothetical situation, if it comes down to the two options of capitulate or fight, it looks like more Albertans are willing to fight at this stage."

The poll, conducted by phone between Oct. 30 and Nov. 9 of this year, targeted a random sample of Albertans from across the province, Ellis said, adding that while JMCK Polling normally conducts the surveys on behalf of paying clients, this one was sparked primarily by his and his partners' curiosity.

The first two questions asked Albertans if they'd heard of the Kyoto Protocol and, if so, did they think the federal government should ratify it? Slightly more than 94% of respondents confirmed they had heard of Kyoto and 57% of them opposed its ratification.

The third and final question asked Albertans if the federal government ratified Kyoto against the wishes of the Alberta Government, what should Alberta do? Respondents were given the following answers to choose from:
  1. There's nothing we can do.
  2. Albertans should begin to explore other options such as independence from Canada.
  3. Alberta should seek to join the U.S.
In general, Calgarians were found to have stronger opposition to ratifying Kyoto than Edmontonians, and more of a willingness to go to extremes in defiance of it.

Ellis, a seasoned political scientist, said he was surprised to find more than 9% of Albertans hypothetically supported the drastic measure of bypassing separation and hooking up with the U.S. "Clearly people are willing to choose the radical political approaches than sit by and do nothing," he said.

However, Ellis conceded that being in favour of discussing separation in a what-if situation and actually supporting separation are two very different things. "Certainly, different words would give you different numbers," Ellis said, adding attaching Kyoto to the issue of separation significantly drives the numbers up. "It's not as clear a read on independence itself as it is on what a fighting mood Albertans are getting into over Kyoto," he said.
- - -
Male Female Alberta
* Ratify 25.0 22.7 23.9
* Don't Ratify 61.1 52.5 56.9
* Undecided 5.4 8.7 7.0
* Don't know enough 8.4 16.0 12.3

- - -
Calgary Edmonton Total Alta
* Ratify 19.1 37.5 23.9
* Don't Ratify 63.5 40.0 56.9
* Undecided 6.1 7.9 7.0
* Don't know enough 11.3 14.5 12.3

- - -
Male Female Alberta
* Nothing can be done 40.9 46.6 43.8
* Explore Independence 49.3 44.5 46.8
* Seek to join U.S. 9.8 8.9 9.4
That was the story three years ago. To judge from this, there are now fewer people willing to consider separation.

There are, of course, two other polls that are relevant. In the last provincial election, the Separation Party of Alberta gathered 4680 votes, less than 1% of the total votes cast. Four years before that, candidates associated with the Alberta Independence Party gathered 7521 votes running as independents.

Judging from both sets of data, support for separatism is declining.

[Edited to replace Alberta Report story with a Calgary Sun story that is a little shorter and a little more direct.]


JimBobby said...

Whooee! That's a good discovery, Buck. Yer a dang good sleuth, I gotta hand it to you.

Good t' hear that support fer Alien Albert separatism is droppin' off. By the sound o' all o' the rebel yells echoin' through the boogeysphere, anybuddy'd figger separatism's on the rise. Jest a few loudmouths, I reckon.

Keep lookin' under rocks, BuckFeller. Yer doin' a service t' Canadee.

Yores trooly,

Candace said...

You must not live in Alberta.