Building A Stronger Canada
Prince Edward Island is not an island.
By geographic accident, it does find itself surrounded by water. But in a broader sense, PEI’s maritime isolation is overcome by the everyday necessities of trade and culture that bind it to the Canadian whole. This is the result envisioned by our Fathers of Confederation, 155 years ago in Charlottetown. They saw that a unified Canada would provide clear advantages over regional isolation.
Thursday night, MPs held an emergency debate in the House over allegations that inappropriate pressure was exerted on the former Attorney-General, Jody Wilson-Raybould, in the SNC-Lavalin affair. Liberals and the Quebec media focus on the potential job losses in Quebec, were SNC-Lavalin to be convicted of fraud and corruption. The opposition’s concern is the apparent violation of the judiciary’s independence and the need to maintain Canada’s rule of law, a pillar of our democracy.
This controversy is yet another example of regional concerns opposing the national interest. The United We Roll truck convoy has only last week departed from the Hill. Its demand for an oil export pipeline made no reference to the legitimate concerns of Alberta’s neighbouring province to the West, or to Eastern Canada’s energy insecurity.
Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario and New Brunswick have refused to enact carbon taxes, as mandated by Ottawa, sparking a constitutional court challenge. This flies in the face of a national need to reduce emissions and meet our Paris commitment.
The continual emergence of regional complaints pulls at the fabric of our federation. To rebuild national unity, Canada desperately needs a grand project. In 1885, the realization of Sir John A. MacDonald’s dream of building a national railway joined us together. Now, we need something similarly national in scope: a Canadian Green New Deal*. A stimulus program that will create green jobs in every province, while addressing climate change and economic inequality. We need to green our economy and promote systems - cultural, institutional, and technological - that are resilient and capable of adapting to shocks in a less predictable world.
By addressing regional concerns within a national project, we can help restore national unity. Because no province is an island.
* Some visions for a greener North America: