Canada Day in Mariexit

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It is July 1, 2036, ten years after Maritime economic union prompted the full political amalgamation of Canada’s former east-coast provinces.

The regional nation still maintains what its political leaders insist is a strong and productive relationship with the Great White North, though tensions over energy agreements with the newly formed Republic of Newfoundland and Labrador occasionally flare.

Overall, however, the consensus in this sea-bound jurisdiction is that life is pretty good. Since the Mariexit from Confederation, the area has become a dynamic tourism destination for people who actually have money. It’s one of North America’s leading purveyors of geriatric care. Its manufacturing industries – dominated by artisanal outfits specializing in bespoke booze, recreational marijuana, all-weather outdoor clothing, and ceramics (lots and lots of ceramics) – generate almost enough tax dollars to pay off a fraction of the government’s debt every year.

Who cares that it hasn’t been able to afford its universities and colleges in years, or that its export trade in homegrown technology has all but ground to a halt, or that virtually no one under the age of 45 lives there anymore?

It cherishes its independence above all things.

Now, if it could only figure out where to locate its national capital region.

A good flight of fancy is always a useful way to address the question, “Where are they now?” In this case, whatever happened to Maritime Union?

Not too many years ago, a version of it cropped up on the convention floors of vision conferences. The assembled participants called it Atlantica, a crucial feature of which would be a cross-border partnership with New England. Writing recently in Progressmedia, Perry B. Newman, the president of an international business development and consulting firm based in Portland, Maine, reflected on those heady days.

“More than a decade has passed, and much has been done to advance the notion of a cross-border region whose economies are linked, and whose assets might take their place (in) the world” he wrote. “But it’s clear that more needs to be done, and it’s equally clear that we need our vision to evolve.”

He added: “Of course, it must be said that we’re not working (or thinking) in a vacuum. Even as we advocated for better connectivity and the reduction of barriers to trade and the movement of goods, during the intervening years the world turned upside down in ways that directly affected the vision and realization of a cross-border economic region.”

Indeed, it did. In fact, it’s still turning. Brexit is proof of that. And this raises an interesting paradox. At what point does successful economic integration among like-minded nations, states and provinces lead to their political separation from existing arrangements, such as, for the sake of argument, Canadian Confederation?

Most experts insist that this extrapolation is absurd. Still, most experts were fatally wrong about Britain’s decision to leave the European Union last week. Admittedly, that move was the reverse of migrating from economic tethers among countries to a single political entity incorporating all. (No United States of Europe is ever likely to emerge). But the principle is the same. When people are invited to think about their economic fortunes and conditions, they are prone to consider their political ones as well.

At its heart, though, the tenets of economic union in the Maritimes are sound – even if they only extend to a full examination of the often-pernicious effects of inter-provincial trade barriers.

We need not worry about a dystopian Mariexit as we forge ways to band together in our joint interest along the East Coast of Canada.

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