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Part One: AIMS-Atlantica initiative catches attention of National Post

The potential economic and social benefits that Atlantica offers to Atlantic Canada are highlighted in a recent article in the National Post. In exploring efforts to improve the free flow of people and goods across the Canada-US border, the National Post looks at AIMS’ recent Pugwash Thinkers’ Lodge conference on the Atlantica concept – a cross-border region embracing Atlantic Canada, much of New England, northern New York state and Quebec’s Eastern Townships. AIMS President Brian Lee Crowley is quoted in the article as saying “Open borders have signalled a renaissance in Europe’s previously neglected regions. A very similar development can and will happen across Canada, and there are few places for which it can be more beneficial than Atlantic Canada.” As the National Post reports, elected representatives of the people of Atlantica are very much aware of
the benefits of closer ties across the border. According to the Post’s survey, MPs representing Maritime and Quebec ridings bordering the US overwhelmingly endorse strong border-opening measures.

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Part Two: AIMS papers excellent education on equalization: Halifax Daily News

In his 14 August piece, Money editor John McLeod of the Halifax Daily News argues that the debate on equalization is not simply about begging for more federal cash. McLeod encourages anyone interested in having a reasonable understanding of this issue to go to the AIMS site and review the recent studies on equalization that can be found there. Having read these studies he concludes that the debate is, rather, about the proper role of non-renewable resources within the equalization program. He points out that the federal government itself has been unable to reach a firm conclusion on how non-renewable resources and equalization go together. In fact, no fewer than ten adjustments have been made in the treatment of non-renewable resources since the equalization program was implemented.

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Part Three: School Choice: AIMS and the Wall Street Journal

On August 9 the Wall Street Journal published a piece by Canadian journalist and author Michael Taube about the value of competition and school choice for the public education system. Taube cites AIMS President Brian Lee Crowley’s comments that friendly competition between Canada’s public and private schools can only help the education marketplace and create more efficient institutions. In this context Taube discusses how Ontario and, in fact, Canada has become a leader in this innovative policy area. He applauds the Harris government for introducing tuition tax credits for parents sending their children to private school.

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Part Four: Robin Hood Economics – AIMS in Canadian Business Magazine

The national debate spurred by two recent AIMS papers – “Equalization: Milestone or Millstone?” by Roland Martin and “Taking off the Shackles:  Equalization and the Development of Nonrenewable Resources in Atlantic Canada” by Ken Boessenkool – continued in the July 9 edition of Canadian Business magazine. In his commentary, Andrew Nikiforuk takes a dim view of the current situation in relation to equalization and offshore royalties and argues that, to be equal, Nova Scotia must be master in its own house. Taking a page from Boessenkool’s paper, Nikiforuk concludes it is time for Ottawa to “. . . unshackle the provinces and get smarter about giving money away and clawing it back.”

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Part Five: AIMS and EI Reform in the Calgary Herald

AIMS President Brian Lee Crowley recently addressed the newly formed Laissez-Faire Society in Calgary and discussed several of the artificial barriers to economic growth in Atlantic Canada and Canada as a whole. One of his themes, the need to reform EI, is picked up in this column by Nigel Hanneford as he discusses the need to eliminate the barriers to work in Canada. Hanneford argues that leaving EI as it is and failing to eliminate provincial labour mobility barriers will result in a sad state of affairs where it will be easier for a foreign tradesperson or professional to work in Alberta, than somebody from Nova Scotia.

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Part Six: AIMS & C.D. Howe Institute discuss Equalization Reform

Most commentators now appear to agree that equalization needs to be fixed; the question now seems to be how. Jack Mintz, President and CEO of the C.D. Howe Institute, argues in a recent piece from the National Post that we need to look at the entire formula for equalization. In Mintz’ s view, addressing the treatment of non-renewable natural resource revenue alone carries more risks than rewards. Ken Boessenkool, author of the AIMS paper “Taking off the Shackles: Equalization and the Development of Nonrenewable Resources in Atlantic Canada”, published a response article agreeing with Mintz that the equalization system needs to be fundamentally reworked. He argued, however, that a necessary step in that reworking is to make a clear distinction between proceeds from the sale of a capital asset (royalties from nonrenewable resources like potash or natural gas) and revenues (like corporate and personal taxes).

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