Part One: Edmonton Superintendent of Schools to Speak at AIMS Event

Native Maritimer Reinvents Public School System with Choice and Accountability

Education innovator Angus McBeath, Superintendent of the Edmonton public school system will be speaking at an AIMS event on July 11. Mr. McBeath is widely recognized as the leader of the ongoing effort of Edmonton Public Schools to improve student achievement. Edmonton has virtually revolutionized its public schools. 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.

Part Two: Auto Insurance: Nationalize in Haste, Repent at Leisure

AIMS President Brian Lee Crowley has a question for those who advocate the nationalization of the auto insurance business in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. Those who favour expropriating the existing insurance companies’ business and replacing it with a state-run monopoly like to imply that it will lower costs, improve service, eliminate “excessive” profits, and perhaps cure SARS too. The question Crowley asks them in his latest column is “Why didn’t Bob Rae do it?” Bob Rae’s NDP government in Ontario backed away from its election promise to nationalize car insurance, and for very good reason.

You cannot conjure a state-run insurance scheme out of the air. There are huge start-up costs. You have to borrow hundreds of millions of dollars to create a new organization from the ground up and to fund the new insurance liabilities. Borrowing rises while tax revenues decline. You have to cause major employment dislocation, as all the dozens of private-sector insurers close down their operations, some of them significant regional head office operations, and leave the province. And that’s just the beginning of the drawbacks. *************************************************

Part Three: Grandstanding on Fish

Newfoundland has undergone huge change in the decade since the 1992 cod moratorium when 35,000 were thrown out of work almost overnight. Cod is now virtually a footnote in a Newfoundland fishery that lives chiefly from shrimp and crab. The value of the industry’s production has finally surpassed a billion dollars annually.

But cod still has emotional resonance, no matter how little economic substance underpins it. Hence Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Roger Grimes’ latest grandstanding. Ottawa has jurisdiction over the fishery. The cod stocks collapsed on the federal government’s watch. Ergo, the feds should be booted out and replaced by provincial bureaucrats in St. John’s. If only sage Newfoundlanders who love the fishery and the cod had been in charge goes the refrain, all would have been well. He is even proposing that the Constitution be amended to give Newfoundland jurisdiction over its fisheries.

Of course the very emotion that Mr. Grimes is investing in this story disproves his claim that what he wants is fisheries management in the interests of Newfoundlanders and Labradoreans. The bane of the fishery was not and is not Ottawa. It was and is politics, and Mr. Grimes’ proposed transfer of responsibility from one group of politicians to another would make things worse, not better.


Part Four: The Future of Work in Nova Scotia

On April 30, 2003 AIMS President Brian Lee Crowley was a guest speaker at the Workforce Strategy Forum put on by the Aerospace and Defence Industry Association of Nova Scotia to look at strategies to deal with the industry’s growing labour shortages. He began with a true story:

There is an aerospace engineer at the Pratt and Whitney plant at the Halifax airport. His son, as part of an elementary school project, was asked to write a short essay about a Nova Scotia industry of his choice. Because of his father’s work, he knew something about the aerospace industry, and so that’s what he wrote about. When he got his paper back, he had got a poor mark, and when he read the teacher’s comment she had written “You should know that we don’t have an aerospace industry in Nova Scotia. There were lots of real Nova Scotian industries you could have written about, such as the maple syrup industry.”

This widespread self-image has almost nothing to do with our reality — and yet we continue to make too many policy choices as if the teacher’s view, rather than the child’s, were true. In this talk, Crowley discusses a number of measures that are necessary for Atlantic Canada to shed these vestiges of our traditional self-image. Among these measures are: adaptation to population change, including examination of labour force development and immigration policy, education, reform of federal and provincial social welfare policies and getting taxes to a competitive level. Among other positive outcomes, such reforms will allow the aerospace and many other industries overcome their growing labour shortages and put more Nova Scotians to work, creating social and economic benefits for all.


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