These guys should talk – more!

Left to right: Nova Scotia Premier Tim Houston, New Brunswick Premier Blaine Higgs, Prince Edward Island Premier Dennis King, Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Andrew Furey (Photo credits CBC)

Chances are pretty good you’ve never heard of the Council of Atlantic Premiers (CAP), though it’s been around since 2000. CAP, with its mandate to “promote Atlantic Canadian interests in national issues”, more or less slept through its first two decades of existence.

Fortunately, that’s starting to change.

In May, the premiers launched the Atlantic Physician Registry, which eases the way for doctors to practice in all four provinces.

In June, our political leaders jointly stated their opposition to what they call the “federal gas hike”, and the federal Liberals brand as new “clean fuel regulations,” and most of us know as the “carbon tax”. (Ah, the language wars, they never end.)

No one will argue with the regional registry for physicians – any measure that loosens the Gordian knots that tie up health care delivery in the region should be embraced. On the other hand, lots of people would like our premiers to shut up about the carbon tax, though loyal readers of CrowsNest  have already learned that this tax hits this region hard, and rural areas of this region harder still.

So, now that CAP is starting to act as if it matters, what’s next?

We think our fearsome foursome of Atlantic premiers should probe the potential for a co-ordinated response to natural disasters. After a few months of fires and floods and tropical rainstorms, and just as the hurricane season is getting underway in earnest, this seems like an idea whose time has come.

Our power utilities are experienced in this area, and their cross-border experience responding to major power outages should provide a pretty good model for emergency response protocols for all manner of natural disasters.

The first step in an Atlantic Emergency Response Plan would be taking an inventory of human and equipment resources already in place across the region. A plan would evolve from that. CAP could also take a leadership role in developing an emergency alert system that works for everyone, everywhere, every time.

In brief, we think our premiers should work together – when possible – to respond to the issues of the day. CAP should seize the opportunity to give the region a voice in the nation, while acting for the good of all inside the region.