I think about the urban-rural divide in Canada a lot. I think there are big implications to the fact that, as pointed out in the Globe and Mail:
“There are more people in Greater Vancouver than in the rest of British Columbia. Half of Quebec’s population lives in Greater Montreal; more than half of Albertans live in Edmonton or Calgary. The Greater Toronto Area has as many people as the three Prairies provinces combined.”
For all the talk of Canada as a northern country it is actually a country primarily of people in large cities, the rest of us are outliers. And we are declining. From Sean Speer and Jamil Jivani in Policy Options:
- “Data from the 2016 census show that Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver now represent more than 35 percent of the national population. This share has been steadily growing over the past 30 years”
- “These cities are home to Canada’s richest communities, highest levels of immigration and considerable economic dynamism as seen in their many start-up firms and burgeoning industries. They are increasingly the principal locales for economic opportunity.”
- “These three cities now have more than 60 federal parliamentary seats, and the number is even higher if one counts surrounding areas such as Brampton and Mississauga in Ontario, Langley and Surrey in BC or Laval in Quebec. But with a narrow definition of the cities, they still represent nearly 20 percent of all federal ridings and are thus larger than all provinces but Ontario and Quebec. These cities therefore make up arguably the most important voting bloc in the country.”
Their piece also points out that this divide is actually more pointed than the United States, whose population is more evenly distributed and whose recent electoral politics have very much centred around urban-rural divides.
The real question, I suspect, is whether or not Canadians outside urban areas wind up feeling resentful of cities in a way that translates to the way they vote– and if that even matters, given the electoral clout urban areas have over the rest of the country.
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