For thousands of years, coastal settlements and regions have always thrived. These communities are often established solely for close proximity to water so that irrigation can be facilitated and other basic uses for water can be achieved in an efficient manner. As these settlements have modernized however, coastal settlements quickly grow into maritime hubs for passing sea vessels, and then eventually into more modernized and adapted cities – offering high level financial services, business opportunities, and corporate attraction. This gradual growth of maritime communities is evident almost everywhere in the world, except for Canada’s east coast.
See, Canada’s Atlantic provinces – Newfoundland and Labrador, Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia have been left out of development plans for generations. Other than Stephen Harper’s contributions to Atlantic energy development by way of an LNG terminal, hydroelectric developments, and oil infrastructure, the next best economic era for the region all came prior to the 20th century, by way of the fur traders from Europe and elsewhere as well as leadership in the coal, shipping, steel, and paper industries. Needless to say, Atlantic Canada – one of our most strategic regions and with some of the highest potential – has been neglected by the Liberals for half a decade now and far too long before that.
As we now look toward the future of a Canadian Conservative government, breaking the regional divide among provinces must be a priority. Both Peter MacKay and Erin O’Toole, offer great strengths and plans to target and address the needs of Atlantic Canada and its constituents.
Federal administrations consistently neglect the potential in the maritime provinces and merely brush them off as natural resource providers and energy hubs, but if only those constituents would be provided with financial encouragement, the opportunities there are boundless. It’s been seen in the United States – how New York City, Boston, Philadelphia, Washington DC, and Baltimore, among other east coast cities have been developed into metropolitan hubs.
Beyond primary industries like fisheries and mining, it’s critical that federal, provincial, and local governments are able collaborate on the same transformative and ambitious goals and projects to grow the base and reach the potential of Canada’s maritime provinces. The first step to these ambitions needs to be advertising maritime tourism to both Canadians and foreigners alike – the rest of Canada and the rest of the world must see and know that the region is open for business and ready to assert a higher role in corporate accommodation.
The government needs to realize sooner rather than later that Canada is more than just Toronto, Vancouver, Montreal, and Alberta’s oil – we have deserving constituents from coast to coast to coast who all deserve accommodation and aid in modern developments. To reposition our nation on the geopolitical stage, it’s important to assert our competitive capacities in not only our primary industries, but also to establish and grow our manufacturing and service sectors nationwide.
Canada is not only Toronto, Vancouver, and Montreal – and it has seemed like that is the case for decades now. Our centralized organization around these metro areas are demeaning the true potential and value of our great cities and towns. The worst part is that it is our democratically elected representatives on both the federal and provincial scale who are failing to provide the favoured financial environment for corporate growth and expansion. Canada ranks near the top of highest combined corporate taxes at around 27% in some provinces. This is unacceptable compared with American corporate tax code which boasts a 21% corporate tax rate, effectively overtaking Canada in corporate accommodation.
The fact is that because of Canada’s lack of global presence in the financial industry, outside of Toronto based firms, foreign investment and corporate expansion is flourishing on America’s east coast while Atlantic Canada is left out as if it’s still operating in the 1920s. The last legislation in Nova Scotia directed at entrepreneurism and venture capital growth was in 2018, but only organized collaboration among provincially-based establishments. This is not enough and the people need more. Focusing on tourism and already established local businesses will only grow so quickly – the provincial governments must extend their influence and reach to other provinces and nations to expand their base as opposed to simply growing local connections.
For instance, something along the lines of an ‘Atlantic Premiers, Governors, and Mayors Council’ would definitely be beneficial on the business front, bringing together geographically alike stakeholders in the interest of corporate growth and development. Additionally, such a summit would provide so much networking potential for leaders who essentially govern the entire eastern front of North America. There is so much to be accomplished in terms of trade, corporate growth, economic collaboration, and political coproduction among geographically aligned leaders.
All in all, Atlantic Canada has been neglected by both the federal and provincial governments which have led them through decades of mundane uncertainty while all their Canadian and American counterparts have grown and flourished. It’s now time for Atlantic Canadians to say “enough is enough”, and to demand a brighter and more prosperous future. The times of primary industry-based economies are over and it’s time for the government to recognize it and adapt.