A Cape Breton Senator wants to turn the clock back two hundred years. Independent Senator Dan Christmas wants Cape Breton to look at the possibility of becoming an independent province.
Senator Christmas, who comes from the Membertou First Nation, suggests the current economic climate in Cape Breton is not working and perhaps it would be better off to go on its own and develop its own economy in the future. The Senator points to his own success in developing the economy of the Membertou First Nation as an example of how it can be done.
“Cape Breton is dying” the Senator says and something must be done to reverse the situation. He might have gone on to suggest the economy of the entire province of Nova Scotia is hurting.
This is where I have a problem with the Senator's suggestion. Cutting off Cape Breton would not create two healthy economies from one ailing economy. It would just create one more have not province.
But perhaps the Senator was right to point to the success of his Membertou Nation as an example of what can be done to help the economy of Cape Breton. They did not achieve their success in development by becoming a province, but because Dan Christmas, before he became Senator, knew how to leverage the status of a First Nation to its greatest advantage.
Christmas used the unique status of a First Nation to attract new business and industry so that Membertou is now a true economic hub on Cape Breton.
Perhaps Senator Christmas would have more success if he called for the reestablishment of the traditional territory of Unima'ki. An independent First Nations Territory of Cape Breton could prove much more successful economically than a Province of Cape Breton if the Membertou experience could be replicated island wide.
Frank Likely is a retired Anglican minister and past president of the Springhill and Area Chamber of Commerce.