Searching for New Ways:
Frank McKenna Presents a Vision for Atlantic Canada’s Future
For Immediate Release December 1997
AIMS, 1657 Barrington Street, Suite 521 Halifax, NS B3J 2A1
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“It is now manifest that the old ways don’t work,” says Frank McKenna, the newly retired premier of New Brunswick.
“The unemployment insurance system, in its effort to be generous to our region, has created a distortion in the workplace and a dependency that is very unhealthy for a sustainable economy,” McKenna says in a new introduction to a published version of his last speech as premier. “Grants and make-work programs have created distortions in the natural economy – distortions that require redress.”
The speech, which laid out the former premier’s vision of a region breaking free from dependency, is being distributed by the Atlantic Institute for Market Studies, a Halifax-based think-tank.
“We think Mr. McKenna said some things that Atlantic Canadians need to hear,” says the Institute’s president, Don Cayo. “He offers both hope for the future, and plain-spoken analysis of where ill-considered good intentions have led. And there are elements of a plan to make a better economy.”
In the speech, delivered Aug. 10 at the Atlantic Vision conference in Moncton just two days before he stepped down from office, McKenna called for practical policies – including efforts to foster immigration – to deal with dwindling regional population. He also called for sensible support for native industries; a big push to add more value to regional products; incentives to replace disincentives to work; and a strategy to develop information technologies.
In the new introduction to his speech, he says Atlantic Canada needs a whole new set of tools – investments in technology, research and development, education and knowledge, and highways and airports – to break free of dependence.
“These are the tools of modern commerce,” he said. “If we had made the appropriate investment in these areas some 20 years ago, it is my firm conviction we would be a have-region of Canada today.
“It is not too late. Atlantic Canada is a region of entrepreneurs and high quality educational institutions. It is also a region of emerging technology. These are powerful components that can create the explosive mixture necessary to sustain growth to a self-sustaining level.”