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Part One: ACOA Watch #2:  Locking up the Pork Barrel: The Politicization of ACOA


AIMS is releasing its second in a series of publications examining the role the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency plays in the economic development of the region. In this edition of ACOA Watch, Brian Lee Crowley and Bruce Winchester consider the recent work by Jack Mintz and Michael Smart of the C.D. Howe Institute ( Brooking no Favorites is critical of ACOA, noting that decisions about where to spend the hundreds of millions of dollars appear to be politically motivated.  This assessment is not new to Atlantic Canadians, however until now these assertions have been based more on conjecture and anecdotal evidence. The Mintz-Smart paper is the first that analyses and documents the politicization of ACOA spending in detail.

AIMS president and co-author of ACOA Watch Brian Lee Crowley today said, “The Mintz-Smart study is a welcome addition to the chorus of criticism of the current ACOA structure. AIMS’ papers and commentary have regularly called for changes to ACOA and exchanging Agency spending for federal or provincial reductions in tax burden on the business sector. We are very pleased this excellent paper bolsters the arguments against misguided federal economic intervention in the region.”

Part Two:  New Brunswick’s “Plastics Valley” an Extrusion Delusion

From a base of less than 1 percent of Canada’s production, New Brunswick has launched a drive to become a significant North American plastics products manufacturing region. The momentum behind creating such a centre grew out of two highly publicized plant-site consulting reports, which base their findings on characteristics that are inappropriate for the local industry. These are the findings in AIMS’ latest paper, New Brunswick’s Plastics Industry: Rhetoric versus Reality by internationally-renowned business analyst and academic I.A. (Al) Litvak.

Dr. Litvak says attempts to develop New Brunswick as one of North America’s top plastic production centres is “yet another misguided, publicly funded effort at industrial planning.”  

Don McIver in the National Post on the dangers of government-inspired “industrial strategies”

AIMS Research Director Don McIver was invited to write an op-ed about Dr Litvak’s paper in the December 10 edition of the National Post. McIver puts the Litvak paper in the context of the chequered history of economic development efforts by the New Brunswick government and other attempts to pick winners rather than concentrating on creating the tax and other conditions in which businesses and individuals can succeed.  


Part Three:  Aquaculture – L’aquaculture

Aquaculture is fenced in by fish farmers’ lack of property rights

Incredibly, Canadian aquaculturists have actually been arrested by government officials for “illegal fishing” while harvesting fish that exist chiefly because of the culturing efforts of their owners. The police have refused to lay theft charges against people who rustle aquaculturists’ fish stocks because their property rights are so muddy, it is not at all clear that they own what has been stolen.

Given this precariousness of their ownership of animals and farm, aquaculturists face huge problems in getting adequate financing and insurance, and this means that substantial productive capacity in the oceans is being squandered. Canadian aquaculture is, in effect, controlled by a sluggish and inept bureaucracy that is blinkered by a concern for short-term economic development and endowed with discretionary power that bends to the political strength of established interests.

In a column published in daily newspapers in Vancouver, Halifax, Moncton and St. John’s, AIMS president Brian Lee Crowley focuses on how the serious obstacles facing the Canadian aquaculture industry can be traced directly back to the poor quality of the property rights available to aquaculturists – property in their stocks, and in the environment in which the stocks are raised.  

La révolution bleue. Des défis pour l’aquaculture canadienne

Dans sa chronique régulière dans La Presse, le plus grand quotidien de langue française de l’Amérique du Nord, le président de AIMS, Brian Lee Crowley observe que, dans les faits, l’aquaculture canadienne est contrôlée par une bureaucratie inepte et lourde, ne voyant que le développement économique à court terme et disposant d’un pouvoir discrétionnaire qui plie volontiers devant la force politique d’intérêts établis. Si la discrétion administrative peut s’exercer de manière si ample en matière d’aquaculture, c’est en partie parce qu’il n’existe pas de statuts fédéraux ou provinciaux au Canada touchant cette pratique.

Pour que l’aquaculture canadienne croisse, pour qu’elle crée de la prospérité et des emplois spécialisés dans les collectivités côtières pauvres et pour qu’elle nourrisse une plus grande partie de la population humaine, elle doit disposer de droits de propriété sûrs sur la zone littorale, la colonne d’eau et le plancher océanique, droits idéalement incorporés dans une loi nationale sur l’aquaculture et soutenus par les tribunaux. La loi devrait aussi prévoir des mesures appropriées de protection de l’environnement ainsi que des droits touchant les autres usages des ressources océanes. Cette industrie n’a pas besoin d’encore plus d’incompétence économique et d’inefficacité gouvernementales ni de décisions arbitraires rendues par des bureaucrates. On demande M. Paul Martin.


Part Four: Peter Fenwick on Newfoundland and the Auditor General’s Bombshell

  Newfoundland’s Auditor General John Noseworthy has been painting with numbers, and the resulting picture is very bleak indeed. “Fiscal Realism” has proved especially shocking as Newfoundlanders are made more aware of the distinctions between “cash” deficits and accrued deficits. Significant spending cuts will be necessary to bring Newfoundland’s deficit to heel and the debate emerging now is where those cuts will come, and how deep must they be. In this column AIMS’ Senior Fellow on Newfoundland Issues, Peter Fenwick, provides his own sketch of Newfoundland and Labrador’s fiscal challenges.  


 Part Five: Connecting Communities, Creating Opportunities: AIMS at the Atlantic Multicultural Conference

AIMS President Brian Lee Crowley was the keynote speaker at the opening of “Communities Uniting: An Atlantic Multicultural Conference” in Halifax last November. Asked to speak on the theme of “Connecting Communities, Creating Opportunities”, Crowley noted that many people in Atlantic Canada feel that while immigration is all very well and good for Toronto and Vancouver, it is quite inappropriate for this region because of our high levels of unemployment. While they don’t often express it as such, the belief is that opportunity is a zero-sum game. Essentially, if someone comes here and does well, it has been at the expense of someone else. Yet, ironically, the policies that would attract immigrants are also precisely the policies that would increase opportunities for native-born Atlantic Canadians as well.


 Part Six: Happy Holidays from all of us at AIMS

Whether it was the national coverage of our groundbreaking Definitely NOT the Romanow Report on health care, or White House policy advisor and speechwriter David Frum’s characterization of AIMS as “the Special Forces of the think tank movement”, or our fourth Sir Antony Fisher Memorial Award for think tank excellence, or Opposition Leader Stephen Harper’s comment that, “dollar for dollar, AIMS is the best think tank in Canada”, or the invitation from Charles Baillie at TD Canada Trust to write the paper on the future of regional development policy for the TD Canada Trust Forum on Canada’s Standard of Living, or the invitation to address an international audience in New Zealand on who should own the seas, or the 200,000 people who flocked to our website to read our first high school performance report card — this was a banner year for recognition of the influence of AIMS and the contribution that we make to the regional, national and international policy debate.

We believe AIMS has made a difference in 2003 and in 2004 we will continue to provide research and analysis that will result in improved public policy for Atlantic Canadians. All of us at AIMS hope that you and your loved ones will have a happy holiday season and a prosperous New Year.


Merry Christmas from all of us at AIMS!


Brian Lee Crowley, President

Charles Cirtwill, Director of Operations

Karen Fraser, Finance

Rolando Inzunza, Operations and Information Coordinator
Don McIver, Director of Research

Jordi Morgan, Director of Communications and Development

Bonnie M. Williams, Administrative Assistant




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