Part One: AIMS Receives its fourth Sir Antony Fisher International Memorial Award for Excellence in Public Policy Work

At a ceremony in New Orleans on Wed., April 23rd, AIMS was honoured for the 4th time since its founding with the prestigious Sir Antony Fisher International Memorial Award for excellence in think tank public policy work. The award, for the Institute’s Definitely NOT the Romanow Report project on Canadian health care reform, recognised the innovative character of the project and held it up as an example for the international think tank community.

The Fisher Awards commemorate the life and work of Sir Antony Fisher, one of the founders of the Institute of Economic Affairs in London. To deal with the many requests he received for help in starting think tanks in other countries, Sir Antony later founded the Atlas Economic Research Foundation, which organises the Fisher Award competition each year. Over 125 institutes in more than 40 countries were eligible for this year’s prize, and 40 nominations were received from institutes in 17 countries. Three awards were given this year. In addition to AIMS, the Cato Institute, in Washington DC, and Libertad y Desarollo of Chile were also honoured.

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Part Two: The New Cod Moratorium Will Have Little Impact on the Newfoundland Economy

The fishery in Newfoundland has changed drastically in the last 12 years, but not the politicians or the politics of the fishery.

On April 24th Federal Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, Robert Thibault announced the closure of the last remnants of the Gulf of St. Lawrence and the northern cod fisheries. In Newfoundland any politician worth his salt was quick to condemn the federal government. The premier went so far as to suggest the four Liberal members in the House of Commons resign from the Liberal Party in protest and sit as independents. None of the uneasy Liberals took him up on his offer.

But according to AIMS Fellow Peter Fenwick, everyone knew the catch had to be cut back. The Fisheries Resource Conservation Council, an industry-government board with strong Newfoundland input, had already suggested cutting the quota to 5,000 tonnes. Minister Thibeault just went a little further. According to Fenwick, Newfoundland’s politicians are, “stuck in the last century, responding as if cod were still king. It isn’t, and we are all better off that it isn’t.”

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Part Three: Edmonton proves that school choice and accountability works in the public schools: Angus McBeath, Superintendent of Edmonton Public to tell their story at AIMS event in July.

Edmonton has revolutionized the public schools system. Every school is now an education enterprise led by a strong principal with the power to implement change and the power to acquire the services and resources the students need when they need them. Throughout North America, Edmonton is being held up as the example of what the public schools can and should be. School choice is a central feature of Edmonton’s success: the school district offers open enrolment and more kinds of school than any other district in the continent. These options have resulted in almost half of all students attending schools outside of their neighbourhoods and achievement scores rising across the board. With their entrepreneurial spirit, Edmonton’s public school system has been putting the competition out of business; unlike most major cities, the number of students in private schools in Edmonton has been declining.

Mr. McBeath is in demand across North America as a dynamic speaker with a truly remarkable story to tell about how public schools can reinvent themselves to meet the needs of a modern, diverse and demanding society where educational achievement is the key to success.

Come and hear Angus McBeath, a native Maritimer, recount how his adopted city found the formula to revive the spirit, energy, and commitment of people to public education. Edmonton has proven that choice, accountability and performance are *not* incompatible with the Canadian public school system, but rather are the key to its renewal and improvement.

Be sure to mark noon, July 11th in your calendar for this event and to watch for further details in future AIMS On-Lines.
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Part Four: Immigration: How to make them want to come

AIMS President Brian Lee Crowley was asked to issue the keynote “Call to Action” at the Nova Scotia Immigration Partnership Conference, organized by the Metropolitan Immigrant Settlement Association in Halifax on April 11th. Here is an extract from his talk, entitled, “You’re not from around here, are you?”

“Nova Scotians are struggling to renew our society. There can be little doubt that we have lost vast numbers of our children and we have failed to attract even a fraction of our ‘share’ of immigrants to compensate. The number of Nova Scotians within the Canadian population has declined relatively, and now, according to the last census, it has started to decline absolutely. So in my view, when we raise the challenge of immigration, we are really asking, not about people from away and how to attract them. We are asking first and foremost what it is about us that we can keep neither our children nor attract newcomers, nor keep much more than a third of those who do come. The key question is not ‘Why don’t they come?’ but rather ‘Do we really, in our hearts, want them to come?’ ….

“But how do we get them to come, these precious immigrants, these people over whom virtually the whole developed world is fighting? I am deeply sceptical that we can bring in the immigrants we need through compulsion or crude incentives; rather the key is to create a climate of opportunity that is attractive to immigrants. I cannot underline strongly enough that what I am describing is not an immigration policy. It is a prosperity policy. Doing what is right for Nova Scotians will also be the right thing for attracting immigrants, including a reduced tax burden, a culture of education, a lightening of the regulatory burden, including on newcomers’ access to many regulated professions — all these would be powerful recruitment tools. Attracting highly skilled professionals and entrepreneurs from elsewhere will also both help to fill skills gaps while generating economic activity that can help employ less-skilled workers currently unemployed or underemployed in the less-developed provinces like Nova Scotia.”

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Part Five: Rags to Riches – Promoting productivity and Prosperity for Atlantic Canada

In the March/April edition of ‘The Taxpayer’, AIMS President Brian Lee Crowley points out that everybody has views about what’s wrong with Atlantic Canada. When Canadian Alliance leader Stephen Harper, a westerner, blamed a regional “culture of defeatism” last year, he was roundly criticized for perpetuating western Canadian stereotypes about the region. Yet former New Brunswick Premier Frank McKenna, and Nova Scotia MP and Tory leadership hopeful Scott Brison, for example, have both deplored the region’s culture of dependency. Being local boys, though, they escaped a Harper-style hiding.

Of course there is a lot of uncomfortable truth in these observations about the region. And a lot of us are struggling to articulate an alternative to the bad old ways, recognizing that the region needs regional prosperity, not “regional development”. Over forty years we’ve seen far too much heavy-handed government intervention. Thus far, according to research for my Institute, these efforts that were supposed to aid regional development have actually contributed toward a retreat from growth. Fourteen years of regional development, led by the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA), has resulted in an average economic growth rate that lags the rest of the country by 5 percent and a job creation rate that is 20 percent lower than the national average.

Three federal programs are most closely linked with regional development efforts in Atlantic Canada: employment insurance, equalization and ACOA. But rather than encouraging growth, these programs have fostered the region’s climate of dependency. And many of these programmes have exacerbated a local mismatch between skilled workers and job opportunities. In fact, contrary to conventional wisdom, there are and have been shortages of skilled labour in Atlantic Canada; this, plus significant population shrinkage, helps to explain why most industries predict big challenges in meeting their employment needs in the near future. These are not the labour shortages of an overheated economy; instead, Atlantic Canada’s labour shortages co-exist with high unemployment. Regional development policies are at the root of these problems.

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