Like most of my colleagues, I went into this election cycle a little curious. I never did buy the notion that the Conservative’s approach to regional development would involve sucking every talented resource out to Fort McMurray, consolidating three governments into one and saying “stand on your own two feet”. (although some of my more impatient colleagues actually agree with this model, but I digress)
At the same time, I have never bought into the notion that the Liberals have brought great prosperity to Atlantic Canada. In fact, I am not sure that even the Liberals believe this.
So, I looked closely for any hint of economic development strategy and have concluded the following:
The Liberals, if re-elected, will continue to do mostly the same in Atlantic Canada. ‘Innovation’, small businesses and ‘community building’. Paul Martin stumped through Atl. Canada basically telling us how good we have had it under the Libs.
The Conservatives have not said much about Atl. Canada and economic development. Harper won’t scrap ACOA. Harper is ‘committed to helping Atlantic Canada reach its potential’. Well, that’s easy to say during a campaign but don’t forget this region has been ‘declining’ relative to the rest of Canada since before Harper’s oft mentioned relatives settled in New Brunswick.
So having said all that, I would have liked to had heard one of the parties talk about a ‘revolution’ in Atl. Canada. An Irish-style transformation where Canada (like the EU in Europe) invests billions into infrastructure, industry development, etc. into this region over a 25 year time frame. Where if Microsoft sets up a 1,500 person facility in Halifax, the rest of Canada cheers not complains. Where if hundreds of US firms turn their gaze onto this region, the rest of Canada cheers not complains. This was exactly the case in Ireland. As that country boomed in the late 1990s, the EU kept the funds flowing (remember that Germany, France, et. al have economic challenges of their own).
So, I won’t shed too many tears if the Libs lose today. There won’t be dire consequences (although I understand the Liberal strategy to scare voters as a tactic). The economy will limp along. And maybe, just maybe, a fresh set of eyes on this thing may end up being good for the region.
And if Harper slashes EI and pays people to move to Fort McMurray?
Ask me if/when he does it.