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Part One: Nova Scotia takes AIMS’ advice on school testing

On March 22, 2002 Nova Scotia’s Minister of Education, Hon. Jane Purves, released an Action Plan aimed at improving the province’s poor performance on provincial, national and international exams. A central part of the Action Plan will be regular testing of Nova Scotia’s student population and the release, on a school-by-school basis, of the results of those tests. There is also a commitment on the part of the province to act on the results of the new testing regime, rewarding schools that do well, and giving appropriate help to under-performing schools.

In taking this new direction, the minister was actually following AIMS’ advice, for it was just this type of accountability for results that was called for in AIMS’ recent report “Testing & Accountability: The Keys to Educational Excellence in Atlantic Canada”. The difficulty is that the province is still focusing solely on the performance of individual students, and has made no allowance to measure and report on the effectiveness of individual schools. Nor has it given parents and students any real power to act on even this limited information – without choice for parents and teachers, there is limited accountability for teachers and schools.


Part Two: FPI, the South Coast, and the future of Newfoundland

After FPI announced it was putting tens of millions into modernizing three south coast plants and would have to lay off almost half the work force, politicians responded with hearings on the FPI Act. The public anger at the hearings was real, and the language abusive.

In this commentary, Peter Fenwick, AIMS’ voice on Newfoundland and Labrador, says that now that FPI has been hobbled by the Newfoundland legislature, the future of the south coast is even more problematic. If the haemorrhaging of population from the south coast reported in the latest Census is to be staunched, it will only be by companies like FPI. Modernization has to go forward if any fish processing jobs are to be saved, but how FPI will finance it under the new rules remains to be seen.


Part Three: Dinning on electricity restructuring, Kyoto and clean coal

On Friday, 8 March 2002, the Atlantic Institute for Market Studies and the Electricity Consumers Alliance of Nova Scotia hosted a luncheon and briefing session with one of the Canadian leaders in the continental energy industry, Jim Dinning, Executive VP of TransAlta. Mr. Dinning gave his views on a number of key issues preoccupying energy industry and business community leaders alike, such as electricity restructuring, the Kyoto Treaty, and the future of clean coal in Canada’s energy strategy.

On opening electricity markets to competition, Mr. Dinning, citing a recent C.D. Howe Institute Commentary (No. 159) , argued that:

“Canadians should not turn their backs on the benefits of electricity market reform. If it is to succeed, however, such reforms should proceed in a prudent, cautious manner that recognizes the special circumstances of electricity as a commodity. The risks of staying with the monopoly model are high, but the designers of market reform must understand that the risks on the other side can also be very large if substantial precautions are not taken. That is California’s lesson.”

On Kyoto, he was equally thought-provoking:

“There are some in Ottawa and other places in the country that want to deny that we are a heavily resourced-based economy. Some people, I do not understand why, but they think that all those carbon-based energy resources are somehow a liability. Well, all of us need a bit of a wake-up call, and we need to recognize the kind of energy assets we have in this country, unparalleled volumes of assets vis-a-vis other nations in the world.”


Part Four: Those who control the gold, rule: Putting parents in charge of education

Former Alberta Teachers Association President, Bauni Mackay, has said that: “Research proves the most effective way to improve student learning is to ensure parents are actively involved in their children’s education.” In this commentary, AIMS author Ken Boessenkool, expands on this premise and explains why giving parents control of the “gold”, education funding, is the only way to address what ails the education system.

A growing body of evidence shows that independent and home schools perform much better than public schools, even when you adjust for socio-economic factors such as education of parents and income. The goal in public education ought to be, then, to try and increase parental (and principals’ and local school boards’) involvement in our public schools. Proposals exist to do just that, but many of them are problematic. Read this commentary to learn more about the options available to save our schools, and the barriers within our current system making most of those options untenable.


Part Five: Say No to Quotas; Robin Neill speaks to Commons committee

Robin Neill, Chair of AIMS Research Advisory Board, appeared before the House of Commons Standing Committee on Human Resources Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities during the statutory review of the Employment Equity Act.

As part of his remarks, Professor Neill highlighted the difficulty with quotas by explaining to the committee that the problem now is a decline in the participation rate of males in the labour force. Employment of women is going up and the proportion of men employed is going down. Professor Neill asked if this then required legislation to improve the position of men, placing yet one more constraint on market forces? His answer is that what was not good for the gander is not good for the goose; we ought not to legislate advanced employment quotas of men in this country. What we ought to do is undo the legislation we now have on the books.


Part Six: AIMS Launches Oil & Gas Page

Atlantic Canada is quickly emerging as a global figure in the oil and gas industry. The policy defining the sector will determine whether its true potential is actually realized by our region. It’s crucial to ensure that this policy is based on hard, factual information that will benefit all parties associated with the development of our energy sector, in both the short and long-term. Understanding this, AIMS will continue to contribute to the quality of debate by identifying current and emerging economic and public policy issues relevant to the sector, and making this research widely available to everyone. To accomplish this, we have constructed an Oil & Gas web page where you will find a range of material including our new series, the AIMS Oil & Gas Papers, media reports, commentaries, public presentations, and links to other sources of information and analysis associated with the sector.


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