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Part One: Jim Dinning on Oil and gas wealth: Lessons from the Alberta trenches

“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, and it’s our responsibility to use those resources wisely.” These are the two key messages former Alberta Provincial Treasurer Jim Dinning delivered to a sold out crowd at the latest AIMS co-sponsored, Economic Leadership Speakers Series event.

Mr. Dinning related his own experiences, and those of the province of Alberta, in painting a picture for the audience of the do’s and don’ts of managing natural resource wealth. He explained that the biggest risk in managing resource wealth is treating the money as if it is a revenue stream that will last forever. It doesn’t.

If the governments and the people of Nova Scotia and Newfoundland can stay focused on the unpredictable and fleeting nature of resource wealth, then they may have a chance to control, if not entirely avoid, the three biggest pitfalls of a suddenly resource rich economy:

– Increased revenue causes increased spending.
– Expectations ALWAYS exceed pocketbooks.
– Tomorrow’s dreams take a back seat to today’s demands.

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Part Two: Standardized exams: the test of a good school

New Brunswick recently released school-by-school test results for core curriculum areas. But parents and students in Nova Scotia, Newfoundland & Labrador, and Prince Edward Island get no such regular reporting of objective test-based information on the quality of their schools. In this column AIMS President, Brian Lee Crowley, says it is time to ask why not.

Crowley demonstrates that the common criticisms about standardized tests do not stand up to critical evaluation. Where the responses of students are assessed in an objective manner and the items on the test are designed to measure the core objectives of a course in a way that is consistent and fair for all students in the province, then the information collected can provide a powerful tool for accountability and improved system management. That’s good for parents, teachers, employers, post-secondary institutions and, above all, students. Isn’t that what the schools are supposed to be about?

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Part Three: Examining testing: The NSTU debates AIMS

In this piece from the Chronicle Herald, Nova Scotia Teachers Union President Brian Forbes, replies to AIMS President Brian Lee Crowley’s column addressing the need for improved standardized testing in Atlantic Canada (See Part Two, above). Mr. Forbes outlines many of the traditional elements of the anti-testing and anti-accountability argument. However, Mr. Forbes does agree that standardized tests have a place in public education and that context is the key to analysing the results of individual students and schools on those tests.

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Part Four: Of school tests and teacher union testiness: AIMS replies to the NSTU

In this column, published on 13 March 2002, AIMS President Brian Lee Crowley comes to the defence of Nova Scotia Teachers Union President Brian Forbes’ article on school testing (See Part Three, above). Crowley finds that Forbes’ critics have been too hasty when they say Forbes is quarrelling with the very notion of the usefulness of testing in the schools. Crowley cites three significant areas of agreement between the latest AIMS research paper “Testing and Accountability: The Keys to Educational Excellence in Atlantic Canada” and the Forbes article cited above.

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Part Five: Atlantica – A Cross-Border Partnership for the Future

“It makes sense for us, their biggest trading partner and closest ally, to work with [the U.S.]…” This was the theme in an address by AIMS President, Brian Lee Crowley, AIMS Senior Fellow, Michael J. MacDonald, and Perry Newman, former Director of International Trade to the state of Maine and current President of the Atlantica Group of Portland, Maine, to the Commons Foreign Affairs Committee studying North American integration. The presentation introduced the Committee to AIMS’ “Atlantica Initiative” and explained the benefits of re-discovering and fostering the region’s historical north-south economic ties which North American free trade has begun to reinvigorate. In their comments to the Committee, Messrs. Crowley, MacDonald and Newman also underlined how the post-11 September climate opens up possibilities for closer collaboration on security issues. The Atlantica region could be the scene of numerous pilot projects, including at the Port of Halifax and the region’s airports, as well as at the land border, to demonstrate how a continental perimeter approach could be made to work to the benefit of both Canada and the US.

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Part Six: The Mazankowski health care report: a personal view

AIMS President Brian Lee Crowley is a member of the Alberta Premier’s Advisory Council on Health, chaired by former Deputy Prime Minister, Don Mazankowski. The Council’s recent report (the “Mazankowski Report”) on the future of health care in Alberta, released in January, has garnered national attention and is deeply influencing the debate about future directions for medicare in every province. At the request of the Conference Board of Canada, Crowley recently attended their Leaders’ Roundtable on Health, Health Care and Wellness in Toronto, where he recounted his experience on the Advisory Council, and sketched out his views on where health care reform is headed.

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