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Canadian separatism on the decline in Alberta, Quebec

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Canadian separatism is running on less steam these days - at least for the moment.

In Quebec, Premier Rene Levesque and his governing separatist Parti Quebecois (PQ) maintain the general support of the people - but it is being forced to make some tough decisions in tough economic times.

And to the west, in resource-rich Alberta, the upstart Western Canada Concept (WCC) party has been fractured by a number of events - leaving serious doubt that the party will survive.

Split by internal dissent and with no ''anti-Ottawa'' issue to capitalize on, WCC received a devastating blow in Alberta's recent provincial general election. Not only did the party fail to elect any members, but also it lost its electoral toehold in the Alberta legislature, a seat it won handily in a by-election last winter. The WCC placed a distant third in the popular vote.

Only a year ago, the separatists were taking advantage of some deep divisions between Ottawa and Alberta (such as the federal government's controversial energy policies and a bitter battle over Canada's new Constitution) and a general feeling the Progressive Conservative premier had ''lost touch'' with Albertans. They promised a stiff challenge to Alberta's established political parties.

But over the summer the premier, Peter Lougheed, quickly mended his political fences and the Ottawa issues faded, leaving the separatists out in the cold. Like many others, Mr. Lougheed suspects Western separatism is a dead issue.

''I don't see those issues involving federal-provincial relations as tense or as difficult, but I could always be proven wrong,'' he says. ''Most Albertans are not only committed to Canada but want to see Alberta in the full mainstream of Canadian life.''


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