Wicked Ideas

Why the Maritimes is a lot like Texas – and that’s a good thing

Late last week this ABC video, posted by the viral video site Upworthy, popped up in my social network feeds a lot. It’s not hard to see why. It’s a great story of regular folks stepping up – and stepping in – to tell off a bully with a strong moral streak.

Its appealing because it seems to upend the stereotypes we hold of small town Texas. The set-up’s premise is predicated on our assumption that Texans are anti-gay and that no one in that coffee shop will defend the right of the gay couple and their little kids to eat in peace. In fact, a lot of people stand up – far more than when the hidden camera moves to a restaurant in New York City. There, patrons watch in silence and when asked why, remark it wasn’t any of their business.

These reactions surprise us but they shouldn’t, especially for Maritimers or other residents of smaller communities. Small cities and towns have one very valuable trait that large metropolises simply can’t replicate: strong social ties.

Researchers call it social capital, which is the power of our relationships to drive us to act. We step up and act for two reasons: one, we believe it is expected of us by the rest of  the community – that sense of shared responsibility – and also because we trust that when we do, others will join us. We are not alone.

I believe it is that shared responsibility and trust in each other that is going to save the Maritimes. As we said in an earlier story, this region is in a pickle. Our region’s problems are complicated and rooted in deeply intrenched models, and the solution is unclear.

The stereotype of this region as poor and dependent dominates the way the rest of Canada views the Maritimes and it is reflected in the way we are depicted in national news coverage (largely limited to regional natural disasters, UI debates and local weirdos) and in the national conversation (again the UI debate and more recently how the West will save the East with a pipeline).

We’ve got to break those stereotypes and we can, if we work together. Trust me, we’re not alone.

Time to step up and speak out for the new Maritimes. Who’s in?



Lisa Hrabluk

Writer. Social Thinker. Founder, Wicked Ideas. Find me hanging out where culture, people and ideas collide. wickedideas.ca


  • I’m “in” but I’m already “out” physically since I had to move to Ontario for work. One idea for a “new Maritimes” would be an actual Maritime Union that works together. But every time the idea comes up it’s clear our existing leaders are too focused on preserving outdated structures to show actual leadership.

  • Hey Nathan, You’re right that Maritimes Union as a political movement doesn’t have much traction here. The three provincial governments have little interest in returning to an idea that first took root in the 1920s. Did you know the idea originated in Saint John, with the Saint John Board of Trade? Unsurprisingly the proponents of a contemporary union are also from today’s business community. An economic union seems logical, particularly for a region so dependent on trade. However to make that work, some significant pieces of legislation must be passed around issues of interprovincial regulations for shipping and transportation. We’d also need to align transportation policies, taxation and labour laws – and that’s where the dream dies. Strange that the provinces can come together to figure out gambling but hedge their bets on regional economic policy.

August 2018
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