It's no secret that Alberta and Quebec have a strained relationship — but Vote Compass shows the stark divide

The latest results from Vote Compass show Alberta (and often Saskatchewan) at opposite ends of the spectrum from Quebec on many issues, including those related to Quebec sovereignty, oil and gas, or even handgun bans.

Alberta, Quebec on opposite ends of spectrum on most issues, including sovereignty, oil and gas, handguns

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney, left, chats with Quebec Premier Francois Legault on June 12, 2019, in Quebec City. Data from Vote Compass shows a divide over opinions between the two provinces. (Jacques Boissinot/Canadian Press)

It's no secret that Alberta and Quebec have a strained relationship, and new data analysis from an online questionnaire shows the divide is stark over most issues — with the rest of Canada in the middle.

The latest results from Vote Compass —  an online questionnaire developed by political scientists that lets you explore how your views align with those of the major parties — break down by province how much respondents agree or disagree with different propositions. 

Vote Compass was developed by Vox Pop Labs, an independent, non-partisan group of social researchers and data scientists, and commissioned by the CBC.

Vox Pop Labs research director Charles Breton said provincial results came as no surprise.

"I think that's what we would have expected," said Breton. "I think it's interesting to see how that pattern repeats itself over and over in the sense we have three groups. You have Quebec on one side of it, Alberta and Saskatchewan on the other side of it, and the rest of Canada somewhere in the middle."

Questions related to Quebec sovereignty, oil and gas, or even handgun bans saw the provinces at opposite ends of the spectrum.

On the question of equalization — "How much money should the federal government redistribute from provinces that have more to those that have less?" — Albertans were an outlier, landing halfway between "somewhat less" and "about the same as now," while Quebecers were more aligned with other eastern provinces, landing halfway to "somewhat more."

And in response to the question, "How much help should the oil and gas industry get from the Canadian government?" the majority of Albertans answered "somewhat more," the majority of Quebecers answered "somewhat less," with other regions responding closer to the middle, on the side of "somewhat less."

Can't see the graph below? Click here for a larger version.

"We know that Quebec is probably the most pro-environment province in Canada with B.C. being not that far. And we know on some of those questions, Alberta faces different issues that a province like Quebec doesn't face. So this kind of adds data to what we thought was going on," Breton said.

The split adds a challenge for leaders trying to win seats across the country, when a policy like a federally imposed carbon tax might be popular across Quebec's 78 seats and disliked across Alberta's 34 seats.

Can't see the graph below? Click here for a larger version.

CBC News' Poll Tracker showed the Conservatives polling at 60 per cent in Alberta on Monday, with the Liberals trailing behind at 18 per cent, the NDP at 14 per cent, Greens at five per cent and PPC at 3.2 per cent.

In Quebec, the Liberals were polling at 33 per cent, the Bloc at 28 per cent, Conservatives at 16 per cent, NDP at 12 per cent, Greens at seven per cent and PPC at two per cent.

Breton said Vox Pop hasn't analyzed how the data on provincial issues matches up with leaders' regional talking points.

But he expects the findings would fit what observers have seen on the campaign trail so far.

"Because of our system, it's clear that leaders are not campaigning as much in Alberta as they do elsewhere … because the way the system works it's pretty clear that the Conservatives will win the whole province," he said. 

"All this to say that I think if someone analyzed what the leaders are talking about, they would find that they're probably talking about the kind of questions that are important to a province when they're in that given province."

There were some commonalities.

Can't see the graph below? Click here for a larger version.

Respondents in both Alberta and Quebec aligned on their beliefs that less should be done to accommodate religious minorities in Canada and that unions should have somewhat less influence.

"It's also important to note the questions on which there seems to be a consensus," Breton said. "Pretty much everyone feels like getting access to employment insurance should be easier than it is now … also the place of the private sector in health care, a lot of people feel, all provinces feel like there shouldn't be more privatization in the health-care system."

Curious how the average person in each province or territory compares with the average Canadian? Take a look at the document below.

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Vote Compass is a civic engagement application offered in Canada exclusively by CBC News/Radio-Canada and developed by a team of social and statistical scientists from Vox Pop Labs.

The findings were based on 407,374 respondents who participated in Vote Compass from Sept. 11, 2019, to Oct. 9, 2019.

Unlike online opinion polls, respondents to Vote Compass are not pre-selected. Similar to opinion polls, however, the data are a non-random sample from the population and have been weighted in order to approximate a representative sample. Vote Compass data have been weighted by gender, age, education, language, region and past vote to ensure the sample's composition reflects that of the actual population of Canada according to census data and other population estimates.

Click here to find the detailed methodology.


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