In late November three Conservative senators presented a proposal for a Maritime political union as a solution to the problems facing the Maritime region. While Nova Scotia Liberal MP Scott Brison recognizes the severity of the challenges the region is facing, he says that the senators’ proposal actually distracts us from the important discussion and real potential of deeper economic cooperation between Atlantic provinces.
In this commentary Turning the tide: preparing Atlantic Canada for the challenges ahead, based on a speech presented to the Atlantic Institute for Market Studies, Brison discusses how we should pursue deeper economic cooperation between the Atlantic provinces.
Brison examines the three crises facing the Atlantic region: debt, energy and demographics. He points out that onerous public debt, high taxes, and high energy costs not only reduce standard of living, but kill jobs and growth. Many young people in the region have no choice but to seek employment and opportunity in other places, resulting in an aging and declining population. Each of the three challenges _ debt, energy and demographics _ becomes infinitely more solvable when provincial governments in our region work together.
Brison says that the solution is not the adoption of a political union, but deeper economic cooperation. He points to existing regional examples like the very successful Atlantic Lottery Corporation, and our combined global marketing efforts for our excellent post-secondary institutions as models to be used in many other areas. He also highlights the successful New West Partnership, between Alberta, British Columbia and Saskatchewan, advocating that Atlantic Canada should move to have a New East Partnership immediately, or even consider joining (but renaming) the New West Partnership.
Brison’s central point is one of urgency, we cannot afford to get bogged down in another parochial constitutional debate about political union. We need to act now to accelerate our growing economic union. His message is clear “it’s not too late, yet”.