Randy McDonald (rfmcdpei) wrote,
Randy McDonald

[BRIEF NOTE] Why Northern Ireland and not Atlantic Canada?

The decision of the Irish Republican Army to lay down its arms is a good decision, though I only wish that it had been made at a rather earlier date. The conflict seems to have sapped far too many energies from the region, distracting all of Northern Ireland's inhabitants from the broader problems of economic decline and social dysfunction. Fear not, Eurostat confirms that Northern Ireland is still richer than Atlantic Canada (PDF format).

Earlier this month, I argued that New Brunswick, divided between a relatively well-off Anglo majority and a discontented Acadian minority making up one-third of the province's total population, came close to being a Canadian version of Northern Ireland. A more interesting question, though, is why Atlantic Canada as a whole didn't come to resemble Northern Ireland. Northern Ireland was a major source of immigrants to Atlantic Canada--for that matter, the whole of the United Kingdom's religiously divided ethnic fringe constituted a major sending area, perhaps the major sending area. There certainly was enough suspicion between the region's two religious groups: As late as the 1960s, the president of PEI's Protestant Prince of Wales College felt able to protest his institution's merger with the Catholic St. Dunstan's University to form the secular University of Prince Edward Island by claiming that there was a Catholic conspiracy at work. There certainly was enough economic decline.

And yet, Northern Ireland went one way, Atlantic Canada another. Was the dislocating effect of migration on traditional hatreds the causal factor at work, or was there something more (something else)?
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