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An (In)Auspicious Gathering: The Western Economic Opportunities Conference of 1973

Report by Robert Roach

This report is a product of the 2003 conference hosted by the Canada West Foundation entitled Ottawa and the West: Reflections on the Western Economic Opportunities Conference of 1973. The 2003 conference was held to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Western Economic Opportunities Conference (WEOC). As Robert Roach argues, the WEOC was a milestone in the evolution of Western Canada’s relationship with the federal government. In this report, he outlines the WEOC proceedings in detail.

As Roach points out, the 1973 WEOC marked the first time that a Prime Minister held an official meeting with the Premiers of the four Western provinces to discuss regional issues. Roach argues the Conference came at a critical juncture in Canadian politics; the Western provinces were ready to challenge the West’s “second cousin” status in the federation, to address long-standing grievances, and force the federal government to dramatically change its policies towards the region.

Roach argues, however, that the WEOC was largely considered – both then and now – to be unsuccessful. It did not lead to a new national policy toward the West, nor did it meet the federal government’s goal of spreading its message and appealing to Western voters. Regardless, Roach argues that the legacy of the WEOC is significant for several reasons: it set in motion a new era of inter-provincial cooperation among the Western provinces, it revealed the “New West,” and it marked the beginning of the annual Western Premiers’ Conference.

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Policy Publication Details

Author(s): Robert Roach;
Publisher: Canada West Foundation [ Visit Website ]
Year Published: 2003; Publisher Type: Research Institute
Publicly Available: Yes Research Focus: National; Regional;
Registration Required: Yes Language: English
Payment Required: No Publication Format: Adobe PDF

Subjects / Categories:

Policy Articles / Regional & Sectoral / Western Canada
Policy Articles / Regional & Sectoral / Western Canada / 2003
Policy Articles / Regional & Sectoral

Keywords / Tags:

Western Economic Opportunities Conference; relationship between Ottawa and the West; western alienation; western economy; western cooperation;