P.E.I. and Atlantic Canada are firmly against the notion of merging into one province, according to an exclusive Corporate Research Associates poll commissioned for The Guardian.
The poll of 1,500 Atlantic Canadians shows 67 per cent of those polled reject a political union of the Atlantic provinces into a single province with one government for the entire region.
P.E.I. also shows a 67 per cent rejection rate for this idea.
A similar poll conducted by CRA in 1999 asking the same question resulted in the same levels of opposition.
Don Mills, chairman and CEO of Corporate Research Associates (CRA), said these results clearly demonstrate Islanders and Atlantic Canadians are not interested in being amalgamated.
“They want to have their political independence, and that has not changed one little bit,” Mills said in an interview with The Guardian Monday.
“This poll shows that political union is a non-starter so there’s not going to be anybody who’s going to be advocating for that from a local politician point-of-view, whether it’s provincial or otherwise.”
But a group of three Atlantic senators have indeed been floating a pitch for inter-provincial union over the last week.
P.E.I. Senator Mike Duffy, Nova Scotia Senator Stephen Greene and New Brunswick Senator John Wallace said they have been discussing the notion of Maritime union and decided to generate a public discussion on the topic. They suggest such a union could ease many of the economic difficulties facing all three Maritime provinces, with joint procurement and the pooling of resources.
P.E.I. Premier Robert Ghiz called the idea preposterous.
The CRA poll being released today shows Islanders agree with him. Only 28 per cent of Islanders expressed support for the idea.
Regionally, only 27 per cent of the 1,500 individuals polled said they were in favour of regional union.
But CRA did delve a little deeper into the issue. The firm also asked whether there would be support for an economic union, which would see the Atlantic provinces sharing the costs of services and eliminate inter-provincial trade barriers while still retaining political independence.
This idea garnered strong support by all provinces in the region.
In P.E.I., 65 per cent of those polled said they would support an economic union, echoing a similar level of support from all Atlantic provinces, averaging 68 per cent level of support.
“I think there’s a recognition that there are opportunities for cooperation that would help deliver services at a lower cost,” Mills explained.
“This poll shows that political union is a non-starter so there’s not going to be anybody who’s going to be advocating for that from a local politician point-of-view, whether it’s provincial or otherwise,” - Don Mills, chairman and CEO of Corporate Research Associates
He pointed to organizations like the Atlantic Lottery Corporation as an example of a successful regional venture.
“People recognize the need to be more economically aligned and take away some of the barriers that we have between the province, whether it’s trade or otherwise.”
But don’t confuse this support for working collaboratively with an appetite for amalgamation, Mills warned.
“There are some unique differences in each province and I think that’s at the core of why people don’t want to give up their provincial identities that they’ve developed over centuries.”
The poll results for Atlantic Canada overall considered accurate to within 1.9 percentage points, 19 times out of 20. The P.E.I. results are based on a sample of 300 Islanders and considered accurate to within plus or minus 5.6 percentage points.