Halifax – It is not an Atlantic Gateway strategy that will make a difference to Atlantic Canada, but Ottawa’s embrace of the international northeast economic region known as Atlantica.

In the final days of this federal election, the Atlantic Institute for Market Studies (AIMS) is issuing a series of commentaries that examine key policy issues and how their make-over can bring Atlantic Canada back into the nation’s economic forefront.

One policy that the federal government has actively pursued in Atlantic Canada is the idea of an “Atlantic Gateway” modelled on the recently announced Pacific Gateway on the west coast. However, AIMS most recent commentary shows a vague and unfocused ‘gateway’ is unlikely to be the best way to make Atlantica work.

“This is a matter of some concern to the extent that Ottawa seems to be wedded to an abstract concept of a gateway covering the entire coast without regard to the very different conditions that exist within Atlantic Canada,” says AIMS president Brian Lee Crowley.

“Ottawa’s support for Atlantica must in no way be conditional on progress in negotiating an Atlantic Gateway agreement on the east coast,” explains Crowley. “It is vital that the development of Atlantica, which is an issue of NAFTA relations and international trade, not be held hostage to complex and extraneous local political rivalries.”

Atlantica is defined chiefly by geography, economic trends and trade patterns; common problems and experiences; and politics. Much of this wedge of territory has been outside the charmed circle of North American prosperity for years. But there is a way for it to be welcomed inside that charmed circle, and the US is actively pursuing the policy.

With free trade and globalization, the region now has an opportunity to establish its rightful place in the continental economy. However, for that to happen, Canada’s Atlantic Provinces and the US northeast must become as economically integrated and coherent as is, for example, southwestern Ontario and the US Midwest.

US authorities already recognize that the economic fates of the Canadian provinces and US states in the Atlantica region are deeply intertwined. For example, they regard the Port of Halifax as a crucial piece of strategic NAFTA infrastructure that must be fully integrated into the transportation network. Moreover, US authorities are willing to spend US taxpayers’ money on assessing the adequacy of the transportation infrastructure throughout the entire region to ensure that their citizens’ benefit from the region’s potential.

For its part, Ottawa has shown relatively little interest in such studies, at least when it comes to Atlantica. In contrast, Ottawa has contributed funding for the Canada-US-Ontario-Michigan Partnership Transportation Planning/Need Feasibility Study, which has released recommendations on ensuring the safe and efficient movement of people, goods, and services within the region of southeast Michigan and southwest Ontario.

“Atlantica deserves the same commitment,” says Crowley.

To read the complete Atlantica commentary, click here

To read more of the AIMS pre-election commentaries, click here


For further information, contact:

Brian Lee Crowley, President