Buhne, Eric

Project title: Regional Identity in B.C. and Alberta: The Disparate Development of Identity in Western Canada

Department: Political Science

Faculty supervisor: Dr. Jamie Lawson

"British Columbia and Alberta, while neighbouring provinces, have distinct political cultures. Alberta, despite its varied geography, managed over many decades to consolidate a dominant regional identity, expressed in part for many years in a highly lop-sided party system. B.C. has yet to construct such a consolidated dominant provincial identity. Instead, it appears to have developed several sub-regional identities that are less easily represented conjointly by the provincial state. For this project, I want to answer the questions: “How did existing regional identities in Alberta and B.C. develop?” and “Why, despite several common factors, did regional identities in Alberta and B.C. develop so differently?” In order to answer my questions, I plan to examine each province’s economic, demographic, and political development, as well as the way in which these factors intersect.

I believe that this work will complement existing literature on Canadian and provincial politics by elaborating on the existence and political significance of regional identities in Western Canada. Moreover, I suspect that by juxtaposing Alberta’s more consolidated regional identity with the messy mix of B.C.’s regional identities, a deeper understanding of the causes of these provinces’ interprovincial tensions may be drawn. Furthermore, as any attempt to map the regional identities of B.C. has yet to be made, I hope that my work might serve as a catalyst for such a project in the future."