With a federal election ten months away, political parties are already positioning themselves and their platforms for a soon-to-be attentive public.
Ask any staffer within said parties where the big battlegrounds will be you could get many answers, but the last place that comes to mind is usually the four provinces and 32 ridings east of Quebec.
We’re traditionally Liberal but very competitive, those of us on the east coast are a unique bunch within the Canadian story, perhaps that’s why most federal politicians rarely are able to comprehend our wants and desires.
Currently as it stands all 32 Atlantic ridings are Liberal, meaning that in 2019 the liberals have everything to defend and the Conservatives and NDP have nothing to lose. While that stage should make things tense the attitude on the ground is lackadaisical at best.
It’s not that we’re passive, it’s that Ottawa doesn’t give us much to work with.
Federal party platforms rarely talk in terms that Atlantic Canadians can get fired up about, and I’ve met enough people in the Ottawa bubble to tell you with some confidence that the feds don’t know what Atlantic Canadians will want in 2019, if they care at all.
Since it appears that no one in Ottawa understands what Atlantic Canadians want to see from their federal government, allow me to tell them before they go to the polls (based off of my own observations).
Economic development (done right)
Atlantic Canada is generally less well off compared to the rest of the country.
This is due in part to a lack of non-renewable resources, industrial infrastructure, and an economy reliant on seasonal industries, among many other reasons.
We recognize our deficiencies and truly want to work to get ourselves on even footing. We aren’t afraid of government to help us get there, but it needs to be done right.
Atlantic Canadians want projects which develop our resources, like Energy East, which will bring high-quality jobs which are lacking in many Atlantic communities, but we won’t elect politicians which ignore the effects on man-made pollution either.
We want government agencies like ACOA to invest in growing and diversifying Atlantic business, we don’t want corporate welfare for well-do-to businesses, many of which are owned by individuals who don’t even live in this region.
Most people would rather if the Liberals had someone from our region in charge of ACOA, instead of MP Navdeep Bains of Ontario. We want to see development done by the people who have a personal stake in it.
Trudeau, Scheer, and Singh, will all need to prove that they have an effective, but socially conscious economic platform to win in Atlantic Canada.
Atlantic Canadians are looking for platforms which recognize the differences between us and the rest of Canada.
It’s a commonly held feeling (to our dismay) that none of the federal political parties are “for” Atlantic Canada.
The Conservatives are perceived as the party “for” western Canada, and even though the Liberals traditionally have the advantage on the east coast, many feel their focus has always remained in Quebec and Ontario.
Many people out here rarely see themselves within the party ranks as they don’t feel any party is in line with the east coast mindset, which is usually very moderate, community focused, and desiring the right balance between public and private sectors.
One way which regional differences are rectified are equalization payments, which allow the Atlantic provinces to afford the same quality of public services as the wealthier provinces in the west. In times of struggle and recession the system has ensured that us in the east don’t have to suffer.
To make it simple, equalization is beneficial and necessary to the Atlantic provinces, and most of us don’t appreciate Alberta Conservatives calling us freeloaders.
We also know our worth, however, Atlantic Canadians don’t want to live at Alberta’s expense. We want a strong economy for everyone so that equalization is not necessary.
Atlantic Canadians want vibrant industries all across Canada, but the party that wins will be the one which best recognizes the unique challenges faced by us on the east coast.
People worth electing
It’s really that simple.
In Atlantic Canada it’s truly about the person, not the party. Living in small, high-trust communities allow us to form real bonds with our politicians.
And when federal platforms rarely give much credence to Atlantic Canada the personality is often the biggest deciding factor.
Atlantic Canadians want real advocates for their communities, people who will fight for recognition in the country that rarely thinks eastward of Quebec.
They also want party leaders who act in the same manner.
We don’t like posh, we don’t like smug, but we won’t elect a piece of plywood either.
The leader who can embody the friendly, outgoing attitude, with the true community spirit us Atlantic Canadians feel for our generations old towns, will be the leader to make the most gains in this forgotten land to the east.
What do you think Atlantic Canadians will want come 2019?
Join the conversation by commenting below!