In the last federal election, Justin Trudeau's Liberals swept Atlantic Canada. Daniel Savoie writes that Maritimers' support for Trudeau has not been reciprocated:
Consider the following. For the first time since the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency was established in 1987, a minister from outside the region is responsible for the the ACOA. The minister is from Mississauga and is also responsible for the two federal regional development agencies in Ontario, one in Quebec, one in Western Canada and another for the North.
It is not lost on Atlantic Canadians that the federal government now has a regional development agency for every postal code in Canada. Best to focus on regions with heavily populated postal codes when the goal is to win power. The recently tabled budget committed $920-million over six years to one of two federal regional development bodies for Ontario. When this agency was established in 2009, it was given a time-limited budget. No more. It now has core funding like all the other federal regional agencies.
It will be recalled that Mr. Trudeau, at one point, seriously contemplated taking away the one seat Atlantic Canada has on the Supreme Court. When tasked with replacing Thomas Cromwell from Nova Scotia on the court, Mr. Trudeau announced that the selection process would be open to “any qualified judge” from across the country. Atlantic Canadians believe that he would never do the same if it came to Quebec (the Constitution guarantees Quebec three seats) or Ontario and Western Canada (because here the political cost would be too high).
Many Atlantic Canadians remain unconvinced by Ottawa’s argument that the Energy East pipeline failed because of market conditions. Ottawa gave, at best, lukewarm support for the pipeline which was viewed by many in Western and Atlantic Canada as an important national unity project. They saw Ottawa changing the rules of the approval process on the fly, adding new requirements with some retroactively. Mr. Trudeau told supporters of Energy East to accept the decision and avoid “stoking regional divisions.” He said nothing to Montreal and Quebec politicians who labelled the decision “a great victory for Quebeckers.” It made the point once again that when it comes to national unity, it is a one-way street.
If Maritimers start feeling ignored, Trudeau's majority is in danger. And, if Canadians feel that the Liberals have returned to their default position -- arrogance -- they may soon find themselves in opposition.