Party wanting to make Vancouver Island a province fields candidate in Saanich

Party wanting to make Vancouver Island a province fields candidate in Saanich

A Saanich man hopes to use the provincial election as a stepping stone towards turning Vancouver Island into its own province.

Richard Pattee, current manager and director of Saanich Search and Rescue, announced last week that he will be running in Saanich South under the banner of the Vancouver Island Party (VIP).

The party officially pursues two goals. Its immediate goal is to make Vancouver Island a “stronger region” in British Columbia, said leader Robin Richardson. “Longer term, we aim to become the 11th province of Canada,” he said.

As of this writing, Pattee is one of nine candidates running under the banner of VIP, which is still looking for five candidates to field a full slate of candidates in the 14 ridings on Vancouver Island.

Once it has secured representation in the Legislative Assembly, the long-term process towards turning Vancouver Island into a province would begin, said Pattee.

“It’s not going to happen overnight,” he said. “The most important part of this is that we are trying to get a better deal for the Island.”

But in the same vein Pattee insists that VIP is not just a protest party. “We are quite serious,” he said.

Pattee said that the population of Vancouver Island (799,400 according to the 2016 Census) exceeds the population of three other provinces – New Brunswick (756,800), Newfoundland &Labrador (530,100) and Prince Edward Island (148,600), not to mention the northern territories.

He also added that Vancouver Island has a more relaxed culture than the rest of the province.

By becoming its own province, Vancouver Island would have a more effective voice and correct the conditions that force Island residents to endure higher costs of living and lower service levels than their Mainland counterparts.

“Vancouver is really sucking the wind out of everybody’s sails,” he said.

VIP plans call for more direct democracy and improvements in transportation systems, including lower or free sailing rates for BC Ferries and various types of railway service.

Pattee said the Vancouver Island Party would put the question of province-hood to a referendum and Victoria would eventually become the capital of the new province if successful.

The creation of a new province would require an amendment to the Canadian constitution according to its general amending formula that requires the support of the federal government and seven provinces representing 50 per cent of population.

Pattee stressed that his party is not a separatist party like the Parti Quebecois that seeks to create some form of independent Quebec.

This said, he acknowledged that it might “embolden” Quebec separatism.

Historically, separating Vancouver Island from the rest of British Columbia would actually partially restore the political geography of the area, as Vancouver Island had actually existed as a separate British colony between 1849 and 1866 until merging for financial reasons with the British colony of British Columbia which included some but not all of mainland B.C. The newly formed colony joined Canada in 1871 – to the detriment of Vancouver Island, said Pattee.

“We feel Vancouver Island has been getting the short end of Confederation,” he said.

Canada reneged on its promise to extend the transcontinental railway promised to B.C. to Vancouver Island, he said, thereby setting a pattern for future grievances that continue to this day.

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