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Part One: AIMS Receives Sir Antony Fisher Award for Third Time

AIMS received international recognition last week as it earned its third Sir Antony Fisher International Memorial Award in six years during a ceremony in
Philadelphia. The Fisher Awards, which commemorate the life and work of Sir Antony Fisher – a founder of the prestigious Institute for Economic Affairs in London, England – recognize excellence in public policy think tank publications. Over 100 institutions in 40 countries compete for the honours they bestow. AIMS received this prestigious award in the Innovative Projects Category for its Equalization Initiative. The Prize was awarded for two innovative aspects of the project. First, the collaborative nature of the initiative:

AIMS worked closely with two partner institutes to drive this national discussion – the Frontier Centre for Public Policy in Winnipeg and the Montreal Economic Institute Second, the award recognized the powerful impact of the broad range of means used to carry out the initiative (a major conference in Montreal, a dozen papers by some of Canada’s leading authorities, media work, prestigious international speakers, etc.).


Part Two: Peter Fenwick on Oil: The Saviour that failed Newfoundland

In the glow of victory in the offshore boundary line dispute with Nova Scotia, few people are asking what exactly has Newfoundland won. In this commentary, AIMS’ voice on Newfoundland and Labrador, Peter Fenwick, points out that oil has not been the fiscal saviour that was promised to the people of Newfoundland and Labrador. Population decline has continued unabated, and the government’s bottom line sinks deeper into red ink with every passing year. This commentary provides a more complete perspective on the failed promise of oil wealth for Newfoundland and Labrador and offers a glimpse at how to reverse this situation.


Part Three: New AIMS paper asks: “What’s a Degree Worth?”

Atlantic Canadian taxpayers invest substantial sums in our region’s universities, but what value are they actually receiving in return for their investment? The conclusions drawn from AIMS latest report on education entitled, “What’s a Degree Worth: Who Pays and Who Benefits at Atlantic Canada’s Universities?” by AIMS’ Summer Intern, John Philippe, indicate that the current system does not achieve a fair or efficient distribution of the burden of the cost of higher education between taxpayers and students. Through in-depth analysis and calculation, the author clearly identifies the costs and benefits of a post-secondary education to both the individual who acquires that education, and the society that finances a major part of the cost. He argues, in part, that students, as the major beneficiaries of their education, should be expected to pay more for it. The author also suggests a number of strategies for dealing with migration issues. These issues include large numbers of out-of-province students, as well as the loss to the region’s economy because so many local students leave after graduation, paying taxes in their new home, rather than in the province that financed their income-enhancing university degree.


Part Four: Tom Adams on looming NB Power rate hikes

Is Point Lepreau Candu Power station fit for re-fit? Tom Adams, executive director of Energy Probe and noted AIMS author, doesn’t think so. NB Power is currently seeking permission from the provincial Public Utilities Board and the government to invest $845 million and extend the station’s life expectancy. Before its financial collapse in 1997, Ontario Hydro made a failed attempt at a similar project in Pickering, ON, which was one of the main causes for the company’s eventual downfall. Adams warns of an even more severe impact on New Brunswick if the Point Lepreau re-fit fails. Adams forecasts rate hikes as high as 30% for New Brunswick electricity customers, which has the potential to worsen if the reactor falls short of its new aggressive production targets. That threat, mixed with underestimated costs of depreciation, nuclear waste, decommissioning costs, other undisclosed expenses, and finally a lack of life-expectancy forecast consistency creates an uncomfortable setting for such a large investment with no sound return conclusions.


Part Five: Who should benefit from natural gas? Our kids

In a recent Halifax speech, Jim Dinning, former Provincial Treasurer in Alberta, told all Nova Scotians the hard truths about natural resource revenues: non-renewable “natural resource revenues are non-reliable revenues” and “Natural resource wealth doesn’t belong just to this generation. It belongs to our children and our children’s children.”

In his regular newspaper column AIMS President, Brian Lee Crowley, asks what these messages mean for provinces like Nova Scotia who are looking at hundreds of millions of dollars in natural gas royalties over the next decade or so? From Crowley’s perspective, the most important point is that we should not think of those revenues as ordinary ones. They are not like income or sales or fuel taxes. Royalties are what we get when we sell our natural capital endowment. Just as you get cash when you sell your house or your business, we get cash when we sell our natural resources. But just as you wouldn’t use the proceeds of the sale of your house to buy the groceries or a new dress, we shouldn’t squander our capital on ordinary spending. We must invest that money, so as to put it to work for all Nova Scotians, not just today, but across the generations. The gas we are pulling out of the ground belongs to all of them, and not merely the Nova Scotians alive today.


Part Six: Free trade? Not with a border like this

In his regular column appearing simultaneously in the Chronicle Herald and the Moncton Times and Transcript, AIMS President Brian Lee Crowley tells about his recent frustrating experience while crossing the Canada/U.S. border. With new areas of border cooperation constantly being explored between our two nations – including an eventual jointly administered continental perimeter, having U.S. customs inspectors working in the Port of Halifax – the importance of intelligent border priorities is crucial. Crowley explains how the current focus on what the U.S. does at the border has caused Canadians to lose sight of their own country’s priorities. For a country whose livelihood depends on free trade with its neighbour to the south, Canada’s border operations look unorganized and petty to an individual trying to bring in commercial goods in a tiny one-time transaction. Just imagine what a nightmare it must be for those who have to get that $1-billion in commercial trade across the line every day.


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