Qwexit: a scenario for Canadian “Civil War”

 

CCW qwexit variant cover

Variant cover by Cavan Cunningham!

My non-Canadian readers may or may not know that on October 21, 2019, Canada had a general election. The incumbent party, the Liberal Party of Canada, was returned to power, but with fewer seats in the House of Commons. This strong-minority government was the most likely outcome predicted by most media outlets and polls, at least in the final ten days before the election itself, but two things were unusual:

  • the resurgence of the Bloc Quebecois, a party that ran candidates only in Quebec and whose platform includes a drastically altered relationship between Quebec and the federal government; and
  • the near complete dominance of representation by Conservative Party of Canada candidates in Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta (though the popular vote was more diverse), combined with the accession to power in recent years by right-wing provincial governments there that have been quite vocal about the imbalance of power in the current federal-provincial relationship, at least where the Prairie provinces are concerned.

Neither of these movements is new. I recall attending a meeting of the “Western Canada Concept” party in Victoria BC in 1980, for the sake of research – I was then in my high school’s debating club and we were going to debate a resolution on Western separatism. The meeting was led by WCC founder Doug Christie, who gained notoriety by defending Ernst Zundel for denying the Holocaust, got slung out of the WCC for being too extreme and backed other right-wing movements (including a provincial WCC party in BC) (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Doug_Christie_(lawyer)). And it was the surge to power by the Parti Quebecois in the mid-70s that prompted James Dunnigan to design Canadian ‘Civil War’, the sixth and last of the SPI Power Politics series of games, in 1976-77. 

For obvious reasons Canadian Civil War was not popular in the US, and there were few Canadian wargamers to buy up the remaining copies, so it has survived as more or less an orphan game with no updates or scenarios save a “Meech Lake” variant that ran in #23 of The Canadian Wargamers Journal in July 1990. Like many other Dunnigan designs, the game has some interesting mechanics in it, presented in a less appealing framework – and a requirement for four and only four players for the full game.

So, after having a look at the electoral map after October 21, I thought I would try my hand at an updating and variant scenario for the present situation.

The first thing I ought to say is that I do not think that the country of Canada itself is at serious risk. The Bloc Quebecois rhetoric is far less heated than in the 1970s, and it is unlikely that there will be any more referenda on sovereignty-association; the last one was in 1995 and I think it will remain so. I also think that the Western separatist talk is mostly that, just talk, that will be used by the premiers of Alberta and Saskatchewan when and how it pleases them (https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/manitoba/manitoba-canada-wexit-analysis-1.5335328). Not surprisingly, the founders of the “Wexit Alberta” movement have been identified as far-right activists, including a former spokesman for the Prairie Freedom Movement, a Western separatist organization that preceded this one (https://north99.org/2019/10/25/wexit-far-right/) (https://www.vice.com/en_ca/article/59na9q/wexit-founders-are-far-right-conspiracy-theorists ) . Also not surprisingly, “bot” and aggregator activity has considerably boosted the signal and apparent numbers of the movement in Alberta ( https://edmonton.ctvnews.ca/wexit-company-says-bots-aggregators-boosted-alberta-separatist-movement-on-twitter-1.4650507) so when people talk about tens or hundreds of thousands of signatures on an online petition, those signatures weigh about as much as that petition does.

However, we have never let facts get in the way of an interesting game problem, so the following is presented as a thought-experiment expressed through a rather old Dunnigan game: the “Qwexit” scenario. We hope you’re able to give it a try.

qwexit-4 nov  introduction and scenario rules

Cdn Civ War ctrs 2 nov  new counters

CCW var cards 30 oct  new cards

ccw spi ctrs, changes SPI conversion kit: if you happen to have a punched copy of Canadian Civil War, and don’t want to make up a whole new set of counters, this sheet gives you images for a small set of replacement counters and notes the changes to the Political Opportunity Cards.

EDITED TO ADD (3 November):

This may end up to be a bit of a work-in-progress… I was making up a set of the new counters last night and a thought struck me that should have struck me before.

One thing that bothered me a bit about this game is that one Interest Group is much like any other – so why not map them to their (most of the time) logically prime interests, and give them a game function?

So, game function is that an Interest Group gets a favourable column shift on the Contest Table when attacking or defending an Issue that it maps to: 1-1 becomes 2-1 on the attack, 3-1 becomes 2-1 when defending, eg.. Recall though, that an Interest Group cannot control an Issue by itself, only a Constituency piece can.

INTEREST GROUP -> ISSUE (# issue chits)

Chemical -> Healthcare (1)
Farmers -> Environment (2)
Francophone -> Language (1)
Hydro -> Territory (2)
Indigenous -> Indigenous (1)
Intellectual -> Education (2)
Manufacturing -> Industry (3)
Media -> Media (3)
Petro -> Finance/Banking (2)
Transport -> Transport (1)
Unions -> Immigration (1)
Wood -> Tariff/Trade (2)

Most of these are fairly logical I think, and cover all of the Issues except Foreign Affairs and Taxes.

I thought of letting the Prime Minister match to Foreign Affairs, since the PM counter isn’t the PM him/herself but the Prime Minister’s Office and functionaries/staff, who wield even more power than they did in 1976, but decided to leave it consistently Interest Groups, which don’t change when there is a change of government. Also, Taxes didn’t have a logical single IG match, quite complex so best to leave it as it was, I thought.

Anyway, if you give this scenario a try, add this small change to the rules. Or even retrofit it to the original game.

About brtrain
This blog is mostly devoted to posts, work and resources on "serious" conflict simulation games.

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