Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s recent decision to relieve home heating cost pressures in Atlantic Canada has initiated an important conversation about the challenges faced by Canadians living in rural parts of the country. …The groundswell of anger there would look familiar to anyone living in many other rural communities across the country. If anything, Trudeau’s announcement was a reminder of how smaller communities and their residents often get overlooked in the national conversation, and how we lack a coherent national approach to rural Canada. …We need to put more of a rural lens on the impacts of policy that’s created in Ottawa, much as we do for sustainability and other objectives. This isn’t just a matter of fairness. It’s in our national economic interest to ensure that rural Canada thrives. Most of the critical resources that make Canada a valued trading partner originate in rural parts of the country, not in cities.
The same holds true for Canada’s green transition, with rural Canada at the centre of climate action efforts. For example, these communities see first-hand the impacts of worsening fires and are committed to protecting residents and critical infrastructure by actively managing forests. Politicians must think beyond urban voter bases to tap into the value that rural Canada brings to the wealth of our country. …It all starts by making rural communities viable places to live. Second, it’s imperative we get the policy frameworks right to ensure rural regions remain economically healthy. …Rural Canada—home to key industries like forestry, agriculture, mining, fisheries, and energy—makes up about 30% of the country’s GDP and an even bigger share of our exports. To seize the potential of a prosperous rural Canada of tomorrow that delivers for all Canadians, we need to start by recognizing the tremendous value these regions bring to our country and take strong actions to keep them vibrant and viable.