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Part One: Don’t miss it! Deputy PM John Manley to speak next week about Canada-US Relation

Canadians are deeply concerned how issues like trade disputes and the aftermath of September 11th will affect their relationship with their largest trading partner, the United States. With this preoccupation in mind, the Honourable John Manley will speak to Atlantic Canadians on his vision for the Canada-US relationship. This May 15 luncheon is part of the Economic Leadership Speaker Series, a partnership of the Atlantic Institute for Market Studies (AIMS), Corporate Research Associates Inc., Deloitte & Touche and the Greater Halifax Partnership.

At the time of the September 11th terrorist attacks, the Deputy Prime Minister was Canada’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, and was named Time Canada Magazine’s “Newsmaker of the Year” for his role as Chairman of the Ad Hoc Cabinet Committee on Public Security and Anti-Terrorism, and for his principled stand in favour of Canadian action against terrorism and its root causes in the world. He retains responsibility for continental security matters in his new role as Deputy Prime Minister, and has forged excellent working relations with many of the officials in the US Administration who are shaping Washington’s attitudes towards Canada and the border.

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Part Two: AIMS talks about Atlantica with Commons Committee

Three key players in AIMS’ Atlantica project met with the House of Commons Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade to discuss the concept of Atlantica and its importance to this region and the country as a whole. AIMS President Brian Lee Crowley was joined by Perry Newman, President of Atlantica Group (a US based consulting company), and Michael Macdonald, AIMS Senior Fellow, in addressing the committee. Speaking from both the US and Canadian perspective they set out the historical, economic and security case for an integrated economic region embracing the north eastern US and eastern Canada. Perry Newman summed up the situation in his remarks: “While recognizing these geographical realities—our relative isolation, low population, large land areas inadequately served by transportation infrastructure—we continue to believe that closer economic ties to Canadian economic centres would be of significant benefit to the people of both Maine and Atlantic Canada.” Atlantica is the name AIMS gives to the natural economic region that includes Atlantic Canada, the northern tier of New England, northern New York state and southern Quebec.

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Part Three: What’s natural gas done for us lately?

In his latest newspaper column, AIMS President Brian Lee Crowley, looks at the high expectations of taxpayers, workers and businesses as they anxiously await the huge benefits they expect to see flow from natural gas off our shores. He argues that they have been disappointed both because they don’t understand what to look for, and because they have unrealistic expectations of what can be accomplished in the very short time the industry has existed here. Expecting immediate and infinite returns from gas is not the way to ensure success, argues Crowley, instead we must have reasonable expectations of the resource, and infinite expectations of ourselves.

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Part Four: Will we benefit from oil and gas development?

Expanding on the themes he highlighted in his column above, AIMS President Brian Lee Crowley spoke to the Annual General Meeting of the Nova Scotia Construction Management Bureau. Competition or protection, self-reliance or government dependence, earning our way or demanding favours – these are the choices before the people of Nova Scotia and the choices we make today are going to shape the oil and gas world on the east coast for years to come.

If we choose poorly, the offshore exploration and development activity we have seen will flatten out and decline, and the companies will recoup their existing investments but not risk any more. Spin-off benefits will dry up. If we choose wisely, we will be an attractive region for international petroleum companies to place new exploration and development dollars, and we will gain technical expertise and competitive know-how that we can sell far beyond our shores.

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Part Five: Award-winning institutes release new Equalization Series

The purpose of this series of 8 papers is to ignite a discussion among political leaders, government and academic experts, and interested Canadians everywhere with the purpose of expanding our understanding of the current equalization program and its effects and considering some specific proposals for reform. As you will see, there is sharp disagreement among the experts and we have encouraged our authors to express a wide range of views so that readers would get the whole picture, not just one side or another. Some of the disagreement is based on theoretical models that can and should be tested empirically – while other stems from different assumptions about the role of government and the value of such transfer programs.

Finally, this series offers several policy alternatives which deserve further investigation. In the end, whether equalization is a welfare trap or a helping hand is a judgment for readers to make. It is our hope that this series of papers provides the catalyst for further research and debate that will ultimately lead Canadians to make an informed policy choice regarding this important issue.

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Part Six: Romanow, Kirby, recognise AIMS as thought leader in national health care debate

During recent hearings in Halifax, federal health care commissioner, Roy Romanow noted that AIMS’ work on health care was having a major influence on the country’s ongoing debate over the future of health care. He made the comments while welcoming AIMS President Brian Lee Crowley and the Director of Medical Informatics at Dalhousie University’s Medical School and AIMS Fellow in Health Care Policy, Dr. David Zitner, who were invited to testify before the federal inquiry. After their testimony, Commissioner Romanow requested that AIMS submit a special paper on the role of the private sector in the future of medicare.

Also last month, Senator Michael Kirby’s influential Senate Committee studying health care reform issues issued a new report. It drew heavily on AIMS papers and commentary on health care, quoting extensively from both AIMS’ award-winning 1999 paper “Operating in the Dark”  and its more recent “Public Health, State Secret” Crowley and Zitner were both authors on each of these papers. In particular, the Kirby Report picked up on the themes of the poor quality information available to manage the health care system, as well as the diagnosis that the system’s ills flow chiefly from its nature as an unregulated monopoly without clearly defined goals or a focus on the needs of consumers.

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