Council of Atlantic Premiers

The Council of Atlantic Premiers released what they call their ‘regional priorities’ this week at their meeting in Saint John. These priorities represent a “cooperative approach to advancing Atlantic Canada’s economy”.

Here they are as published in the joint communique:

To grow a competitive regional economy, the plan focuses on:
*addressing the renewal of post-secondary education infrastructure to meet the needs of our universities and community colleges
*strengthening skills and labour market programs and investing in R&D
*working to jointly promote the Atlantic provinces to potential immigrants
*increasing economic growth through infrastructure improvement and seamless trade corridors across the region
*establishing an Atlantic Forestry Committee
*developing and implementing an energy efficiency awareness campaign.

Amazing.

In the whole communique, not one mention of attracting business investment. Not even an obtuse reference (although Premier Lord mentioned it in an indirect way in his public comments).

Here’s my reaction to this joint communique:

*addressing the renewal of post-secondary education infrastructure to meet the needs of our universities and community colleges – My comment: if there are no jobs you will continue to subsidize Ontario’s labour market – that makes a lot of sense.

*strengthening skills and labour market programs and investing in R&D – My comment: let’s train folks with new skills so they will be more marketable in Ontario. On the R&D front, Nova Scotia spends among the most in Canada (per capita) on R&D and New Brunswick spends the least (per capita). Anyone notice the difference?

*working to jointly promote the Atlantic provinces to potential immigrants – My comment: if there are limited job opportunities, they won’t stay – even if the Premier himself invites them for dinner. Look at Phoenix, AZ – it’s almost hostile to immigrants – and they come anyway – in droves -for the jobs.

*increasing economic growth through infrastructure improvement and seamless trade corridors across the region – My comment: better roads won’t help if there is nothing to transport on them (note my previous blog on the decline of manufacturing in New Brunswick).

*establishing an Atlantic Forestry Committee – My comment: let’s keep studying this issue until all the mills are closed. Then, let’s do something.

*developing and implementing an energy efficiency awareness campaign.

– My comment: sound’s like a good idea.

Now, I think if you asked any of the four Premiers, they would say the need for external business investment is self-evident. But if you don’t make it a priority – drive a stake in the ground – you will continue to not make it a focus and continue with the same results of the past decades.

You would think that Newfoundland and Nova Scotia, having tasted the benefits of foreign business investment with their oil & gas industries – would be hankering for more. But, if this joint communique is any indication, maybe not.

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