Part One: Upcoming Event: Will Canada ever grow up on defence?

Don’t miss this upcoming event in the Economic Leadership Speaker Series. Seating is limited!

Atlantic Canada’s historic and ongoing relationship to the military is intimate and inevitable. This is particularly the case for the Navy, still the largest employer in the region’s largest city. Changes in military policy have always had a disproportionate impact in this region and future changes, good or bad, can be expected to cause similar shockwaves throughout our economy.

On November 18, 2002, Jack Granatstein, noted author of the recently published Canada’s Army: Waging War and Keeping the Peace, historian and a regular commentator on the state of the Canadian military, will explore the Canadian military’s past, present and future. Offering a stimulating perspective on what needs to be done to sustain the military’s ability to meet domestic and international responsibilities and what meeting those demands will mean for our region and the country as a whole.

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Part Two: Rags to Riches How “The Regions” can lead Canada’s productivity growth?

The Atlantic Institute for Market Studies (AIMS), released “Rags to Riches” (Requires Adobe Acrobat Reader), the paper it was invited to submit to the TD Forum on Canada’s Standard of Living. This paper draws together in one place many of the themes that AIMS has put forward on social and economic policy, especially with respect to closing the gap between richer and less-developed provinces: tax and equalization reform, addressing labour shortages rather than unemployment, removing the incentives to dependence for business and individuals, allowing market incentives to improve management of resources like fish and natural gas, reducing regulation, and using federal transfers to support genuine investment, not consumption.

Arguing that closing the productivity gap between the less-developed provinces and the rest of Canada would result in a significant improvement in the nation’s standard of living, Dr. Crowley goes on to show how current federal and provincial policies have kept this natural convergence from occurring. “If we had done nothing”, says Crowley, “market forces would have naturally pressed the less-developed provinces to improve their productivity over time and close the gap with the other provinces. Instead, federal and provincial policies have hindered this natural convergence and been a primary cause of the continued relative decline in our national standard of living.”

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Part Three: The New Cape Breton starts at home

Dr. Michael MacDonald, AIMS Senior Fellow, was invited to give this paper at the recent International Business Summit held in Cape Breton. Since the closing of the coal mines and steel industry, business and government have been trying to develop an economic and social transition from the defunct industrial base to a new economy focused on small innovative business and the knowledge economy. The Summit signalled a turning point in business growth in Cape Breton as it grew out of a partnership between the Cape Breton Boards of Trade, the Enterprise Cape Breton Corporation and organized labour. It was a major event bringing together about 65 North American business leaders to investigate doing business in the new economy of Cape Breton.

Dr. MacDonald leads two AIMS initiatives that are an ideal fit with the new economy in Cape Breton, the Canada Cities and the Atlantica projects. Both of these projects are focused on recognizing economic reality and playing to our strengths – our increased urbanization and the economic momentum this creates, and the potential of North Eastern North America as our natural marketplace. A native Cape Bretoner, Dr. MacDonald founded the Greater Halifax Partnership and was its first President and CEO. In his presentation he stressed the primary importance of trained labour in re-growing the Cape Breton economy and the challenges of cultural change, challenges which lie at the heart of a new confidence and new prosperity.

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Part Four: AIMS at Acadia University on the meaning of sustainable development

AIMS President Brian Lee Crowley was the guest recently of the Sustainable Nova Scotia class at Acadian University, a new cross-disciplinary course looking at issues of environmental sustainability in the province and beyond. Here is an extract from his talk: Prescriptions to fix the world’s [environmental] problems by restricting economic growth are a prescription for the exact opposite.

In fact, these prescriptions are based on the notion that human prosperity and well-being are an illusion, bought at the expense of the productive capital of the Earth. Human beings add nothing, on this view, and subtract everything. But this is wrong. Human beings add something crucial to the world. They add their intelligence to it. And the history of humanity has been one of the successful incremental application of human intelligence to the problems of nature and humanity. It is not that we do not face problems. Of course we do. But we cannot stop with the identification of problems, we must also look at the mechanism we have successfully used to solve every one of the significant challenges that humanity has faced since the dawn of time: our minds. The wealth of humanity comes from mixing natural and human capital in differing proportions, and as natural capital becomes scarce in one context or another, we invent ways to sustain it, supplement it or replace it. Thomas Malthus and his ilk are not wrong in having identified challenges facing the human race at specific moments in our history – they have simply misunderstood how the right human institutions, such as private property, the rule of law, contract, incentives and human intelligence all work together reliably to solve those problems, even when we cannot foresee with precision what the solution will look like.

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Part Five: France’s chief news magazine highlights AIMS’ work

Atlantic Canada, and the growing opportunities it represents, is attracting ever-greater international attention. And AIMS too is in ever-greater demand to explain this region’s past and lay out a strategic vision for its future. The latest example comes from France’s chief news magazine, L’Express. In their edition of 22 August, a large part of their major article about Atlantic Canada’s renaissance is devoted to a discussion with AIMS President Brian Lee Crowley, who points out, among other things, that “Nous avons souffert d’être une région pauvre dans un pays riche.”

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Part Six: Proportional representation: Cure is far worse than the disease

Recently electoral reform, including proportional representation (PR), is back on the national agenda. The BC government has just commissioned a thoughtful former provincial Liberal leader, Gordon Gibson, to help set up a citizens’ assembly that will look at major changes to the way elections are run in that province. Earlier this week former NDP leader Ed Broadbent teamed up with IRPP President Hugh Segal to make the case for PR in a Globe op-ed. Replying to that article, AIMS President Brian Lee Crowley argues that the fans of PR have misunderstood what elections are really for, and therefore mistake the strengths of our current electoral system for flaws. Noting that he used to be a supporter of PR, and was a co-author of Quebec’s 1970s Green Paper on the topic, Crowley says that he now doubts that it would be an improvement to our democracy.

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Part Seven: Urban central planners threaten our standard of living

Just as central planners devastated Eastern Europe before being tossed out, so too the old central planning model of urban development can do us a lot of harm before people finally come around to see that it is incompatible with the direction our society and economy are headed. Consider that the current fashion in urban planning is towards high density housing and increased urban transit, yet lower density living and travel by car are things that people want, because they reflect a higher standard of living and more personal freedom.

In his regular newspaper column, AIMS President Brian Crowley, explains why only a land-use philosophy that supports this natural desire for a higher standard of living will have any hope of creating the conditions in which cities such as ours will thrive, because these are conditions that are in fact attractive to people.

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