A long overdue conversation has begun in Canada about how to ensure large sections of our country are no longer cut off from an essential service which is taken for granted by so many others -- access to high-speed Internet. Not only are a large section of our fellow Canadians being cut off from vital services, they are also being prevented from fully participating in Canadian society and contributing the ideas and the innovations that make our country great. Rural Canada makes up 30 per cent of the country's population and produces one-third of our economic output. It is time to get Internet service in rural and northern Canada moving at full speed.
The upcoming federal budget has the potential to be transformative and make lives better for rural Canada. Ottawa has committed to making significant investments in infrastructure, housing, and climate change prevention and to work with municipalities to improve quality of life for Canadians.
In Ottawa, the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) will once again convene a meeting of its 21 big city mayors. FCM is assembling the Big City Mayors' Caucus in advance of the federal budget, building on discussions which have been underway ever since the new government took office in late 2015.
The problem with establishing a Federal Cannabis Tax Fund is that somebody needs to ask for it, now, before the legislation is drafted. Mayors and councils across Canada may be reluctant to raise this publicly while marijuana is still illegal and because there is no formal recognition of municipal governments in our constitution.
Cities matter, now more than ever. They're the engines that drive our economy. They're hubs of innovation and creativity. In other words, it's our cities that move Canada forward. Yet just as our cities work hard to attract the best and the brightest, care for their citizens and protect the environment, they must also address the challenges that come with a growing population.
They say all politics are local. Nothing could be truer about this election. This campaign did not begin 10 weeks ago, it began nearly one-year ago when 2000 municipal leaders came together and made a united call for a new approach. A new era of cooperation between all orders of government focused on our most pressing challenges: jobs, the economy, our quality of life
There was a very telling disconnect earlier this week between what passes for priorities inside the Ottawa bubble and the issues that really matter to Canadians. While federal leaders and backroom organizers debated the debates, Canadians were still stuck in traffic. They still worried about finding a home they could afford. They still faced the frustration of trying to be globally competitive with inadequate and aging infrastructure. These issues are critical to the quality of life of Canadians and they need to be front and centre in this election campaign.