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Part One: Former Premier Peter Lougheed Joins AIMS Advisory Council

Nationally known statesman, lawyer, business leader and former Alberta Premier Hon. Peter Lougheed joined the Advisory Council of the Atlantic Institute for Market Studies this month. Mr. Lougheed has been a strong
supporter of the Institute’s work to stimulate people both regionally and nationally to think in new and creative ways about the social and economic challenges that we face. He was the guest speaker a year ago at AIMS’ fifth anniversary banquet where he spoke on the theme of how Alberta had made a success of oil and gas.

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Part Two: Newfoundland gasoline price regulation no boon for consumers

According to former AIMS Director of Communications, Peter Fenwick, the gasoline price regulation scheme now before the Newfoundland House of Assembly is far worse than the disease it is supposed to cure. He argues:

“Given the historic opposition of the government to imposing gas regulation, it is clear that this is a smoke screen designed to curry political favour, and to obscure the role taxes play in keeping oil prices high. The legislation is designed to reduce criticism rather than oil prices. When [Minister] Matthews introduced the bill he said ‘So, on the basis of the lack of confidence… by the people of the Province, and on the basis of the… representations that all of us have had from the general public,… it is appropriate to bring in a petroleum products regulatory regime…'”

“Nowhere does he say that it is a good idea.”

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Part Three: Incentives Matter and all the rest is commentary: Equalisation and Nova Scotia

The Liberal Party of Nova Scotia invited AIMS President Brian Lee Crowley to address its 2001 AGM on the question of whether or not the current federal equalisation programme is “fair” to Nova Scotia and what changes might be appropriate to improve the programme. In his talk, Crowley argued that the incentives implicit in equalisation had undermined provincial efforts to develop the local economy, frustrated efforts to make greater progress on achieving fiscal discipline, and damaged the link between taxing and spending which is at the heart of democratic accountability.

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Part Four: Chapter 11 guarantees free, and fair, trade

Much of the controversy surrounding free trade revolves around Chapter 11 of the NAFTA agreement. This is the chapter that opponents claim is a kind of “charter of rights” for corporations, and that is undermining the ability of national governments to protect their citizens. In his latest newspaper column, AIMS President Brian Lee Crowley examines Chapter 11 and finds that, far from damaging Canada’s interests, it actually promotes
values that most Canadians subscribe to.

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Part Five: No province is an island in competitive climate

The latest Nova Scotia budget is, according to AIMS President Brian Lee Crowley, not progress in fixing the province’s still daunting fiscal problems. The government has gone on a spending spree, abandoning all efforts at keeping its costs under control, and counting on new revenues to balance the books by the end of its mandate and bring in its promised reduction in income taxes. The problem with this strategy is that the rest of the world, including other Canadian provinces, have made much more progress than we have, and are now in a virtuous circle of tax reductions and increased competitiveness. As we inch toward balanced budgets, the taxation gap between Nova Scotia and, say, Ontario and Alberta is widening with every passing year.

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Part Six: Municipal amalgamations in Atlantic Canada and beyond: Why amalgamate?

At the Annual Meeting of the BC Municipal Finance Authority in Victoria in March, AIMS President Brian Lee Crowley was one of the speakers on a panel about the Canadian and international experience with municipal amalgamations. In his talk, he reviews the impressive quantities of research now documenting the failure of municipal amalgamations to achieve most of the benefits their advocates claim for them. He looks in particular at the results of a recently completed study of the Halifax Regional Municipality’s experience, and relates the lessons learned there to the similar experiences elsewhere in Canada, the US and in Europe. Amalgamation emerges as yesterday’s solution to the problems of local government.

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