This is perhaps the most Canadian article I will ever write…
There is no doubt that within the climate we currently live in, the divide amongst Canadians is growing ever wider. Especially now with the controversy pertaining to vaccination passports being mandatory to access numerous services and facilities nationwide. This divide has been growing for several years now, even prior to COVID-19…and it is not okay. Of course, not everyone, nor can every province meet eye to eye and agree on policy, legislation, and what is right or wrong for themselves and for all of Canada. If that was the case, you’d either be the nicest person in the world or too trusting…that or I’m terrible and I need to figure my life out. However, what if I told you that I think this problem could be reduced if citizens in Canada had the ability to travel more freely? By freely I mean fiscally easier. Here’s the thing. Do you recall the big question in school; what does it mean to be Canadian? Usually, many people answer with; “I don’t know” or we just say, “we are a mosaic with all kinds of ethnicities”. What if all the confusion is caused by the fact our freedom to travel within Canada is too expensive? That we only ever get a small taste of what our whole country has to offer? For example, I often hear people in British Columbia talk poorly about people in Alberta, just as much as I hear Albertans talk trash about British Columbians. I grew up in Calgary, Alberta, and then moved to Vancouver in 2018, and have lived here since. Although Alberta and British Columbia are neighbouring provinces, there is still a divide amongst the people that inhabit these provinces, because of political beliefs and values. Yet both Albertans and British Columbians enjoy visiting each other’s provinces for what they have to offer.
Both places have vacations, jobs, recreational hobbies, and so on. Even though BC and Alberta often clash when it comes to values, there is more of a connection or consideration towards one another, because it is easier to access each other’s provinces. We are more attuned to one another because our closeness in proximity. The experience of physically being able to be in either province offers an inner look at how a city in BC functions, what its struggles and successes are, and how the people live. This is interchangeable with British Columbians going to Alberta. So even though there is a divide between the neighbouring province (AB), we can connect much better than we are able to connect to Quebec…Oh Quebec… From my experience, most Albertans and British Columbians have a stigma towards Quebec just as powerful as the stigma Quebec holds for the rest of Canada. This is not to say that everyone in Quebec, BC, or Alberta hates one another, but the farther we are physically, the harder it is to relate and understand what it is like to live in that province, city, or town. This is where I think Canada needs to do better. After all, we are the 2nd largest country in the world. Now sure, we can travel freely in our own country as Canadian citizens. This is fantastic! I can go to Montreal today and then the Yukon tomorrow if I really wanted to…there is a catch though. Do you have the funds to do so? If you want to have a roundtrip to Montreal from Vancouver, it is going to cost you a whopping $758. If you want to go to Newfoundland from Vancouver, on a roundtrip it will cost you $834 dollars. These trips are a total of 4 days long. Meanwhile, if you want to go to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico it will cost you $752 dollars.
Why is it that traveling to Mexico, a place that is farther away than both Montreal and Newfoundland, holds the same value/cheaper than me wanting to see the rest of the country I live in? It is absurd. The incentive to go see the east coast of Canada is squandered, because I’d save more money going to a different country rather than staying and experiencing my own. I’m not saying traveling out of Canada is bad, or people shouldn’t do it, but it bothers me that my own country can’t even incentivize me to want to see what other provinces have to offer. The outrageous prices to travel within Canada have caused a rift between Canadians because we feel discouraged to see and experience the other provinces. I think that if there was a flat fee for air travel in Canada for all Canadian citizens, the people of Canada would be able to relate better to one another. If we were able to see what it is like, perhaps a more mutual understanding would come to fruition. If Canadians could better understand the lives of someone from the east coast compared to the west coast or central Canada, I think things like federal election outcomes would look a lot different. Consideration and relatability would cause more unity and strengthen relations with other provinces. When a federal election is taking place, all the candidates travel across Canada to try and get a better feel for what that province needs or cares about. If Canadian citizens were able to do this too, the scope of what Canada would be defined as for each Canadian I think would greatly improve. On a personal level, being able to grasp the woes and successes of an individual can help create a better understanding of why a person is the way they are.
Why can this not be the approach to travel for Canada? So that Canadians can better understand one another and connect more with Canada as a whole? I believe the results would lead to a better understanding on an individual level, that would ultimately carry more weight in terms of how provinces cooperate with one another, I believe that incentivizing Canadians to see their country would lessen the divide that has been growing ever wider for the past decade, I believe that Canadians would feel happier and more relatable to one another. Besides, the last thing I want is a divide that reflects that of our United States counterpart…Now more than ever I think Canadians need to find ways to understand and know each other. These past few years have been rough and we stand a better chance of coming out better than worse if we support one another, not discourage or look at Canada from a limited point of view.