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By Scott Stirrett

In Suzanne Collins’s The Hunger Games, a stark division exists between the Capitol’s opulence and the struggling districts, vividly portraying a world rife with both economic and political disparities. This metaphor is a cautionary tale for Canada, where a growing economic divide between urban and rural areas precipitates deep rifts.

In the past decade, Canada’s largest metropolitan areas – Montreal, Toronto, Vancouver, Ottawa-Gatineau, Calgary and Edmonton – have become increasingly prosperous. While these regions are home to 47 per cent of Canada’s population, they created approximately three-quarters of all new jobs between 2016 and 2020. In stark contrast, some rural and remote communities have not recovered employment from the 2008-2009 global recession. This economic disparity is more than a statistic; it’s a catalyst for a widening political divide, threatening the fabric of our country.

Rural inhabitants, who often face limited opportunities, can feel neglected by policymakers in urban centres. This sometimes leads to frustration and anger, which contributes to heightened political polarization.

Canada’s current political divides are largely based on the rural-urban split. In the 2019 Canadian federal election, the median population density for the 157 Liberal ridings was more than 38 times higher than that of the 121 Conservative ridings. Research by professors at the University of Calgary and Western University found that there is “clear evidence that Canadians are currently experiencing the most profound urban-rural divide in support for the major political parties in the country’s history.”