I wrote an essay during my undergraduate studies about how the constitutional division of powers was a product of the time at which it was written. I argued that if we were to divide the same land mass and responsibilities today, we likely wouldn’t have provinces because our technological advances have since mooted the logic behind most of the divisions of power. In this Canada, our municipal and federal governments would share governing powers.
I am not opposed to radical reforms in governance that would save Canadian tax payers billions. I am opposed to the notion that radical reforms in governance are the reasonable consequence of a failed neoliberal agenda.
New Brunswick’s reckless financial management has been a dangerous experiment in the intensification of wealth. The fast, deep tax cuts under Shawn Graham, Alward’s refusal to raise taxes and ineffectiveness reducing spending, and the disproportionate impact of public service cuts in Atlantic Canada have stifled growth. Unemployment and poverty have skyrocketed.
With economic difficulties increasing across the Maritimes, the idea of a Maritime Union resurfaced. Three weak relatively similar economies could be stronger together, but couldn’t that exact same argument be applied to the Prairies? And why do we have separate territories, all of which are reliant on federal transfers?
The point is less government is cheaper. Go figure. But we cannot apply this theory uniquely to Atlantic Canada because of their financial failures; to do so is cultural genocide.
It is to say that our provinces have failed to meet capitalist expectations and thus have no option but to radically homogenize in order to coax investments to the region. It would mean the erasure of distinct provincial identities as old as Canada; I am especially fearful for the fate of Acadian-French culture within a Maritime Union.
We must ask ourselves, have we become so poor that we will sell our identities? (While we’re at it, have we become so poor that we allow toxins and explosives near our water tables?)
The musings of a Maritime Union are nothing more than a distraction from the work that our governments ought to be doing. Our provinces are not poor, they are poorly managed. Too many small nations in Asia and Europe are successful for us to claim that a Maritime Union is our only path to economic prosperity.
So no Mike Duffy, I do not consent to New Brunswick, Canada’s only bilingual province, being taught in history as a failed state. When our leaders next ratchet open the constitution, I’d rather they reconsider the role of provincial governments than sew the Maritimes together.