Three Conservative Senators are pushing for a Maritime Union to unite our region and make us a powerful player in federal politics. At the moment, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island are three of the smallest provinces and make the lease amount of money per person in Canada.
The claim is that by merging the Maritimes in to one province, we would have more power when working with the federal government as our population size would greater as one than as separated. The Maritime Union would make our region the 5th largest out of 8 provinces based on population where at the moment Nova Scotia is 7th, New Brunswick is 8th and PEI is in 10th position. The chart below is based on the 2011 Census data found on Wikipedia
- Ontario 12,851,821
- Quebec 7,903,001
- British Columbia 4,400,057
- Alberta 3,645,257
- Maritimes 1,813,102
- Manitoba 1,208,268
- Saskatchewan 1,033,381
- Newfoundland and Labrador 514,536
What has been rarely mentioned is that by merging the provinces we would loose representatives in the federal government. Our three premiers would be reduced to one and our minimum seats would likely be dropped from the combined minimum of 25 to something between Manitoba and Alberta which is 21-14. In the end we would have less representatives supporting a bigger population which may be an argument for cost savings but would be less power over all.
This idea was brought forth by three Conservative senators (John Wallace of New Brunswick, Mike Duffy of Prince Edward Island and Stephen Greene of Nova Scotia) during a time when the Conservatives hold majority power. The reason is as Senator Stephen Greene mentions in his quote to the Chronicle Herald in regards to the Equalization Payments we receive.
“It is morally indefensible, I believe, to be content to receive it without doing everything you can to avoid receiving it. If you have done everything possible to avoid receiving it and you still receive it, you can be content. But not until then.” – Stephen Greene in the Chronicle Herald
The Maritimes have received equalization payments every year since it was started which is not a big surprise to anyone living in this area. This year the richer provinces will pay out $2 Billion to our region as broken up by the table below. Combining the provinces will not mean we would not receive the money however as we would still be at the bottom of the GDP per capita list but it would mean less money overall.
- New Brunswick ($1.495 billion)
- Nova Scotia ($1.268 billion)
- Prince Edward Island ($337 million)
“I prefer to take a much more practical and pragmatic view of this, which is Maritime co-operation.” – Nova Scotia Premier Darrell Dexter in the Chronicle Herald
By having three governments that co-operate we have 3 Premiers and 25 MP’s all united on issues that pertain to our region and the equalization payments will not be affected until the provinces are able to fully sustain their population. If the three premiers are able to work together it is certainly a better offer for the people in our region.
To summarize, a Maritime Union will cause less representation and less money for our region and thus not make us a stronger force with the Federal Government. While it may make sense based on population to merge the region the claims being touted are not what I have found while researching this topic. I believe that co-operation has a better chance of succeeding in the long run and will cost little in the short term. A merger would be an expensive route to take with very little benefit which is why I do not support this plan.