Part One: How urban planners are threatening the quality of life in our cities. Lunch with Wendell Cox
Many city planners decry the outward expansion of urban development. Using the so-called “Smart Growth” strategy these planners advocate restricting urban expansion thereby creating higher density cities where short home-to-work commutes are made using mass transit. Wendell Cox, a respected international consultant in both demographics and transportation, argues this is a recipe for urban decline and social injustice.

Cox says “Smart Growth” restricts the supply of housing and drives up prices. This means fewer households are able to climb on board the economic engine of home ownership, which clearly discriminates against lower income Canadians. “We can’t have it both ways. Either we want to reduce poverty or we want to achieve a particular city form that makes planners feel warm and fuzzy as they pedal around town. Urban planning should be responsive, not prescriptive. It should respond to the needs and desires of people, not seek to impose standards of behaviour on them. ”

Wendell Cox is sought after as a compelling and thoughtful speaker with extensive experience consulting on urban transportation issues throughout Canada, the United States, Australia and New Zealand. Mr. Cox was a vocal opponent of amalgamation of the city of Toronto. He has recently spoken to Quebec Public-Private Partnership conference, the Greater Toronto Transportation Summit and the 10th annual Canadian Society of Civil Engineers Student Conference at the University of Toronto.

This AIMS luncheon is a must for anyone with an interest in urban development in Atlantic Canada and the country more generally. Join AIMS for this informative and thought-provoking talk on Monday February 23rd at 12 Noon at the Casino Nova Scotia Hotel, Lower Water Street Halifax. Register for this event by contacting Bonnie Williams by phone at (902) 446 3332, by fax at (902) 425-1393

Part Two: AIMS Commentary

a) ACOA as a Political Tool – AIMS in the Halifax Chronicle Herald, Moncton Times Transcript and Charlottetown Guardian

Governments don’t and can’t know enough about business and the economy to be able to invest taxpayer money wisely in business. The experience in the many places where it has been tried has been largely an unhappy one. Here at home, Ottawa continues to boast about what has proven to be costly and ineffective intervention is support of “regional development”. Why?

Because, as a recent paper by the prestigious C.D. Howe Institute in Toronto rigourously documents for the first time, the money isn’t spent for economic development purposes at all. The real motivation is politics. In his regular column in the Halifax Chronicle Herald and Moncton Times & Transcript, AIMS President Brian Lee Crowley argues that when politics captures the decision-making, the rewards go to the politically powerful, not the economically deserving. In other words, you make things worse, not better.

b) Un coup d’épée dans l’eau: 40 ans «de développement économique régional» – La Presse

Si vous prenez les dépenses nettes d’Ottawa dans le Canada atlantique au cours des 35 dernières années ou environ vous obtenez un montant d’environ 250 milliards de dollars. En investissant cet argent dans des bons du Trésor américain de 90 jours pendant la même période, vous auriez obtenu environ 1 billion de dollars, soit suffisamment pour donner 300 000 $ à chaque personne de la région. Et qu’avons-nous eu pour cet argent? Pas grand-chose. Les efforts de développement fournis par le gouvernement fédéral dans le Canada atlantique ont contribué à un taux de croissance économique généralement anémique, à un taux de chômage élevé, à des niveaux décevants d’investissements privés et à une proportion élevée d’émigration interne.

Qu’est qui explique cette performance décevante? Entre autres, la politicisation des dépenses fédérales en développement régional. La preuve? Une étude, réalisée par les éminents économistes Jack Mintz et Michael Smart et publiée par le prestigieux Institut C.D. Howe, de Toronto démontre qu’environ tous les quatre ans, il y a une augmentation marquée des fonds de l’APECA (l‘agence fédérale chargée de développement régional dans le Canada Atlantique) approuvés pour différents projets. 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, c’est évidemment pure coïncidence que ce phénomène correspond à la période précédant de peu les élections fédérales. ************************************************************

Part Three: Public Auto Insurance Plan is Illusory – AIMS provides perspective to NB Government

Drivers are rightly concerned by the rising cost of auto insurance. Big premium increases like those of the last year or two hurt people’s pocketbooks and divert their money from things that are more important to them. That damages their standard of living. So car insurance today is an issue fraught with emotion. But emotion is never the best basis on which to settle complex public policy issues, especially when the costs of an ill-considered and hasty decision are likely to be with us for a very long time to come.

In a submission to the New Brunswick Government Select Committee on Public Automobile Insurance, November 14th 2003, AIMS President Brian Lee Crowley argues that residents of New Brunswick should be wary of the illusion that bureaucrats would be able to deliver the same range of insurance services more efficiently than private insurers operating in the competitive marketplace.


Part Four: Is the Drive for Cheaper Drugs Costing Lives? – House of Commons Health Committee hears from AIMS

New pharmaceuticals are expensive to purchase—they are also effective. New pharmaceuticals are better than older products—they prolong lives and improve the quality of life for millions. In many instances they replace or reduce the need for extended and expensive hospital care and intrusive surgery. To give just one example, modern pharmaceuticals have dramatically improved survival rates for heart patients and reduced the costs of caring for them. However, access to these new treatments is quickly emerging as a huge issue in Canadian healthcare. How do Canadians ensure that the rising demand for existing drugs is met affordably while ensuring that those who invest in creating tomorrow’s wonder drugs are rewarded for their investment?

In these remarks to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Health Don McIver, AIMS’ Director of Research, argues that Canadians must be careful the drive to supply today’s patients with low cost medicines doesn’t deprive tomorrow’s sick of the new medicines they need. Limiting access to today’s effective medicines and to the hugely promising medicines of tomorrow may make as much sense as requiring surgeons to employ plastic scalpels—and only issuing the real thing when the plastic ones break!

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