Merging Maritime provinces pushed by senators
If a proposal goes ahead, Anne of Green Gables won't just belong to Prince Edward Island.
The idea of merging the three Maritime provinces has been floated and sunk several times since before Confederation, but three Conservative senators are asking Canadians to seriously mull over the idea of a Maritime union.
In the face of three slumping economies, Nova Scotia’s Stephen Greene, New Brunswick’s John Wallace and Prince Edward Island’s Mike Duffy all say merging their provinces has never made more sense.
- New Brunswick’s unemployment was 11.6% in October, the highest rate since May 2003.
- Nova Scotia’s unemployment rate grew to 9.2% in October and the province has a projected deficit of $211 million.
- Prince Edward Island’s jobless rate hit 11.7% in October and its projected deficit is $74.9 million.
Greene is set to deliver a written proposal in Halifax on Sunday.
Wallace said he supports the "one-province" pitch.
"When I look at New Brunswick and all we have going for us, and it's the same in Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island. I mean we have tremendous abilities and positive attributes and there's been great successes in the Maritimes," said Wallace.
"But despite that when you look to our economy, our unemployment levels, the outward migration, in particular, of our youth, lack of ability to attract immigrants as our population remains stagnant. We're not attracting investment capital that we need. We've got all the pieces here in this region, but something isn't right."
Duffy added his voice to calls for a Maritime union earlier this week. He said the concept could help New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island survive and thrive.
"We often spend more times between provinces competing with each other instead of pulling in the same direction," said Wallace.
Donald Savoie, the Canada research chair in public administration at the University of Moncton, has been a long-time proponent of the alliance. He said he believes it would give the region more clout in dealing with the federal government.
Regional support for the idea has remained mixed over the last 100 years.
"Obviously there will be controversy, but what we want to do is get this discussion underway," said Wallace.
"The concern that I have, and I know many, many other Maritimers have, is our youth will not have the opportunities and the options to stay in the Maritimes."
The idea of a Maritime union was studied in 1965 and it was assessed again in the late 1970s, after the Parti Québécois formed a government in Quebec.
Even with the current problems facing the region, Savoie said he’s not optimistic that he will live to see a serious push for a formal political union.
If the Maritimes ever became one province what do you think the new territory should be called? Leave your ideas in the comments below.