There are only a half million of us. And one half that number is so dispersed that it inhibits the achievement of the scale economies needed for normal commercial growth and for efficient public administration.
We have known those facts for a long time but, as a society, we have also affirmed that the higher marginal cost of maintaining hundreds of small communities is an acceptable one because it means preserving our rural character. Rural is who we are — even the more urban of us claim it as their identity.
While it was tough at times over the years, successive governments concocted budgets which maintained a reasonable balance between demand and the affordability of rural infrastructure and services. With the arrival of high oil prices — and low interest rates — successive Administrations engaged in, by any modern historical standard, outrageously excessive public spending. They watched as labour inflation — due to ill-staged megaprojects — helped distort a small economy. These economic factors, and a runaway boondoggle at Muskrat Falls, now threaten the whole province — but especially our rural communities.