It might not exactly be a loaded bandwagon yet, but provincial Liberal leader Stephen McNeil is the latest to urge greater co-operation among the Atlantic provinces.
The thing is, it should be a bandwagon by now. McNeil like other proponents is dead-on right about this, and we hope the idea, off on a slow roll now, gains momentum.
During a meeting of party members on the weekend, McNeil specifically made mention of the wisdom of regulations that would allow skilled workers to move more freely for work around the four provinces. What is particularly frustrating is that, depending on the profession, the certification isn’t even uniform from one jurisdiction to another.
A number of political leaders have spoken about this recently, and their comments come on the heels of the misguided suggestion by several senators that the four Atlantic provinces merge.
Those touting more co-operation are quick to explain that a formal merger is not what they’re suggesting, but there are a host of ways they could streamline business and regulatory practices to enhance competition in the region. When an area is known as a good place to do business, it’s obviously a spur to economic activity. When the reverse is true – well, we all know what a reputation can do.
Federal Liberal Scott Brison has also been a champion of greater co-operation in the region and, in fact, sees it as urgent for this part of the country – with a little more than two million spread out in four provinces – to avoid economic catastrophe.
The idea isn’t popular with everyone. There are those who tend to stick with protective practices, with the belief that such is the way to stick up for your local businesses. But it’s not the way to foster the strength and growth of those businesses.
It’s often been noted that Canada has greater trade restrictions between its provinces than what’s in place on the global stage. That protective instinct simply isn’t the way to boost trade and commerce.