At the very heart of the matter, this is what is holding Atlantic Canada back.
Halifax-based Jim Meek in this article, clearly outlines Donald Savoie’s contention that federal public policies led directly to the growth of the auto sector in southern Ontario, the aerospace and pharmaceutical sectors in Montreal and the high tech sector in Ottawa.
So, naturally, Mr. Meek followed up with a clear case that Ottawa should support similar economic development programs in Atlantic Canada.
Actually, no. Take it away Mr. Meek:
It will be our premier’s job to push for similar, and fair, treatment as Prime Minister Stephen Harper enters a protracted set of negotiations with the provinces over transfer payments and equalization – the programs designed to give all provinces the money to fund crucial programs in health and education.
So, the federal government’s policies that led to strong economic development in central Canada can be equated to the fight for more Equalization in Atlantic Canada.
Now, to be fair, Meek continues:
A fair deal on equalization is one thing. But the real key to this region’s future will be persuading Ottawa to help create some winning economic conditions Down East – on the Ontario and Quebec models. Absent economic growth, all the moneyed and honeyed promises of the recent campaign – better health care, better education, better roads, less crime, more help for seniors – will end up proving as empty as they now sound.
That makes sense for sure. But the previous argument is dead wrong. There is considerable evidence that the more Equalization and transfers this region gets the less likely it is to get serious about economic development. Consider the last six years in New Brunswick as an exaggerated example of this.
What we need is a Federal-Provincial agreement alright. But not on Equalization. On the most ambitious economic development agenda ever put forth for this region.