New minister says she understands rural economy

Canada’s new minister of rural economic development says she’s well aware of the issues facing rural Canada.

Bernadette Jordan, the MP for South Shore-St. Margarets, has sat on the rural Liberal caucus since she was elected in 2015.

“I’m actually the MP for a large rural riding, predominantly a fishing riding, but I also have farming and forestry as well,” she said in a recent interview.

Her riding is on the south shore of Nova Scotia.

She said she discovered soon after being elected that the challenges facing rural Nova Scotia are the same as those facing rural Alberta or rural Quebec.

“I think the biggest one would be connectivity with regard to rural broadband and cellphone coverage specifically,” she said.

“In order to continue to maintain our rural economy we have to invest and we have to have those critical pieces of infrastructure in rural areas. This isn’t just about watching TV at night; this is about technology and innovation and making sure that we’re staying competitive on a global market.”

Jordan said she would work with provinces and municipalities on this issue.

Rural MPs have continually asked for improved connectivity, she said.

They also asked for a person at the table to make sure rural issues are heard.

“In 2013 we lost the rural secretariat that was part of agriculture under the previous government and we’ve wanted to see something brought back ever since then,” she said.

Jordan added that the government recognizes there is more to be done and that the rural reality is very different than the urban reality.

Prior to entering federal politics Jordan was a development officer for the Health Services Foundation in Bridgewater, N.S., raising money for health care. She also has a community newspaper background and was president of the Atlantic Community Newspaper Association.

She has a degree in political science.

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