As 2017 draws to a close many of us are already looking forward to the new year, but it’s also an opportunity to look back on a landmark year.
The 150th year since Confederation saw Canadians travel around the country, taking advantage of free entry to our national parks and experiencing a lot of the natural beauty of Canada.
In a year that celebrated Canadian unity, it’s clear that the provinces are not as united as they should be. The recent dispute between Alberta and Saskatchewan regarding licence plates on government highway and building projects is just the cherry on top of a disharmonious year for inter-provincial relations.
Alcohol has been front and centre in some of the disputes, including a debate first starting from a New Brunswick man’s quest to buy cheaper beer in Quebec in 2012. That a product purchased legally in one part of Canada would suddenly become illegal in another is ludicrous but these barriers still exist. Our own provincial government has had its hands rapped over subsidies to craft brewers, which neighbouring provinces have argued is unfair to their brewers. As craft beer and spirits continue to grow, these issues will continue to pop up and it’s usually the consumer that loses.
Pipelines have been a sore spot for a number of years, but the issue has come to a head this past year. Alberta and B.C., despite both being NDP governments, are at odds when it comes to allowing Canadian oil to reach tidewaters. On the other half of the country, the cancellation of the Energy East pipeline shows that barriers exist for Alberta’s oil all over the country, despite the huge economic benefits to the country as a whole. Pipelines should be considered important infrastructure for all of Canada but politicians continue to get in the way.
While our neighbours to the south have made headlines for the re-negotiation of North America free trade, freer trade within Canada needs to happen as well. Trade barriers between provinces – whether they be liquor or construction or anything else – are short-sighted and not in line with the idea of Confederation. Canadians move around the country more freely than ever before and our inter-provincial relations should reflect that.
As we look ahead to 2018, politicians of all levels and all stripes should commit to better working relationships with their neighbours – make it a New Year’s resolution. Whether it be St. Albert and Sturgeon County, or Edmonton Global or the New West Partnership, history will show that there are greater benefits in working together, rather than against each other. The spirit of Confederation was alive in many Canadians this past year, let’s hope politicians at all levels will keep that spirit alive next year. Here’s to a happy and prosperous new year.