This makes sense. With the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives it’s almost as if anything that includes the two dreaded words ‘united’ and ‘states’, it must be evil.

The fact that Atlantic Canada is more poor, less educated and has less of a developed economy than every other region in Canada and the USA (that’s right Maude, the percentage of families living below the poverty line in New Brunswick is higher than Alabama), doesn’t mean much to the CCPA.

Let’s use poor old Atl. Canada to beat America over the head. “We’re not gonna let those Yanks take over our paradise of liberal values” says Maude Barlow* from her perch in one of Canada’s most powerful economies.

*I use Maude here in the collective sense as any of the Central Canadian thinkers that likes to use Atl. Canada as their test tube for social experimentation. Despite pouring elevated levels of government pogie down here for decades this region is still the poorest in the USA/CAN by just about every measure. Isn’t it time we focused a bit more on economic development and a bit less on enriching EI and expanding Equalization?

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  1. Anonymous says:

    That’s once again your bias showing. It’s interesting that when you discuss AIMS its always the specific policies, but for progressive think tanks its their whole ideology.

    What specifically have they said about Atlantica that they haven’t said about Free Trade or the oil and gas sector or the breaking down of the wheat board or lumber? In virtually all cases they study and publicize the ways that american, or global trade agreements hurt canadians.

    But I may be mistaken, but Maude Barlow is spokesperson for the Council of Canadians, and she lives out west, whereas the CCPA is centred in Ottawa.

    I think canadians are allowed to bash Alberta policies even if they don’t live there, and likewise atlantic ones.

    As I mentioned, the CCPA doesn’t talk about NB policies much because they have no offices. They do talk about Nova Scotia a fair bit. I have a feeling that if you wanted to join and do studies on New Brunswick they’d be more than happy to accommodate.

    If Atlantica is such a great idea it should easily stand up to any debate or discussion. In fact,the more the better. If their claims are unjustified, in what way are they unjustified? Painting them with a brush to avoid discussing the policies is a rhetorical device more worthy of Al Hogan (ouch, oh I didn’t just type that!:)

  2. David Campbell says:

    I know that Maude is with the CoC but I used her name in vain – in a generic sense here.

    And I have bashed AIMS for their ideological perspective as well. I don’t like people that play at the margin and use this region as their ping pong ball.

  3. Anonymous says:

    So its BETTER that think tanks ignore the region just like the feds?

  4. David Campbell says:

    Sigh. No, that’s not my point. What I am trying to say is that AIMS should not strenously advocate no government involvement in trying to grow industry here while Quebec, Ontario and Alberta are doling out billions to attract industry and the CCPA/CoC should not view Atl. Canada as the ‘last stand’ against American intrusion into Canada’s economy. For me, I would like them to keep the ideology out of it. The US has worked just fine for the Ontario economy – post NAFTA wages are up double the increase in Atl. Canada (which hasn’t benefited much from NAFTA). So an effort to have Atl. Canada benefit from better trade ties with the US should not be dismissed as an ‘assault on workers’ and something that will lead to ‘slave wages’ in Atl. Canada. That’s just silly. And as for AIMS, they should take their ‘no government involvement in industrial development’ shtick to the provinces where that is really going on – Ontario, Alberta, Quebec and to a lesser extent BC. Quebec just announced a 37.5% payroll subsidy to attract a UK gaming firm. The Quebec taxpayer will pay 37.5% of the salary (it doesn’t say for how long). So my frustration is directed at any think tank that is attacking on ideological grounds efforts that have worked to support economic development elsewhere.

  5. Anonymous says:

    OK, now I understand, you don’t actually READ the AIMS stuff! There’s the problem. Go check it out, they are FAR from ‘not wanting government involvement’. Who do you think they want to pay for overhauling the Halifax port? Who do you think they want to pay for the transportation enhancements? They are MORE than happy that governments pay, what they DON”T want is for governments to ge a share in the profits.

    How many complaints do you see from AIMS now that the government is shovelling money into the forestry sector? Not a peep, they don’t mind in the least. However, say the province has a policy that would, say, RAISE royalties then all hell would break loose over there.

    So I think you are misunderstanding them, they LOVE government involvement, but only when its going into industry. That’s exactly what the protestors were saying, that like you they want more fed money, but only to build up the transportation route. There is where ‘opinion’ enters into it, because of course the feds MAY actually pay for THAT kind of investment, whereas most of those who oppose it, want that money to be invested elsewhere.

    And keep in mind that ONtario often goes through booms and busts. NAFTA didn’t actually do that much, since the auto sector wasn’t even in NAFTA and that accounts for a good percentage of growth.

    Others are R&D which gets most of its money from the feds, and of course the war economy in the states has a lot of goods being shipped from canada.

    But keep in mind also that Ontario isn’t exactly loaded,there’s a reason why McGuinty is always talking about equalization. Taxes have been going up far more than New Brunswick. There is still plenty of poverty, and keep in mind that table I posted a long time ago.

    Right after confederation there was tons of investment in New Brunswick-from ontario to buy up companies and turn it into a branch plant. Thats whats happening in Ontario. Well, southern ontario anyway which is all that matters.

    The only benefit ontario has is political representation which lets it get all those subsidies. Take them away and see how fast the economy of ontario falls apart.

    Finally, and I’m going to post this at Alec Bruce’s site as well, you guys should really soften your stance on CCPA because I was at their site and typed in Atlantica and the only hit I got was a report FROM AIMS, specifically endorsing the ‘one northeast energy market’ idea. So clearly these guys aren’t nearly as ideological as you think, or at least not ideological in the WAY that you think.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Just a media update. I did a search and found an article done by the CBC.

    Now, the CBC is typically supposed to be unbiased, at least in comparison to other publications.

    However, its interesting to note that the CCPA is called a “left leaning think tank”, whereas later in the article they then turn to AIMS, which they list first with no adjectives, and then as a “non-profit, Halifax-based think-tank”

    That’s quite interesting because it seems that the corporate media bias is now getting entrenched at the CBC. And as I mentioned above, at least on one occasion the CCPA has linked to studies done by AIMS. I just thought that was interesting.

  7. David Campbell says:

    Sometimes I defer to your knowledge but not this time. I do read AIMS stuff – quite a bit – and they are ideologically based on F. A. Hayek, Ludwig Von Mises and the gang of rabidly free markets.

  8. Scott says:

    Very true, David. As even Brian Lee Crowley will tell you, the story of AIMS did not start, “ten years ago, with our founding, or 15 years ago with the fall of the Berlin Wall, but 60 years ago. In 1944 a famous economist and later Nobel Prize winner F.A. Hayek wrote a famous book called The Road to Serfdom…”

    Anyone who knows the guy knows that Road to Serfdom is his economic bible. lol

    And as far as left wing ideologues go, next time you might want to use Mel Hurtig and James Laxer as an example, just a thought. Those two have preached heavily against the US as a republican neoconservative bastion which spreads global hate. They, along with Barlow, believed that we would completely lose our sovereignty under FTA and then NAFTA. I haven’t heard them preach against free trade as much as they know it has benefited our country’s economy, not crippled it.

    Not to mention, on the foreign policy front, they fail to recognize that the US, though not perfect by any means, has done some great things for many of their allied nations.

    However, at the moment, they are an easy target as they happen to be struggling significantly on foreign policy. That is, unless you are amongst the braintrust that believe the war in Iraq is going well. lol

  9. Anonymous says:

    I’ll try to not ramble so much to take up so much time. This isn’t ‘my knowledge’, this is from going to their website.

    Example 1

    Energy. They maintain that production should be privatized, but NOT the distribution lines. Well, why not? If they were radical free marketeers then EVERYTHING should be privatized. Of course that modification was added because privatizing energy has become increasingly unpopular.

    Example Two

    Forestry (an article by Peter Fenwick):

    “The Williams government argues that its $10 million a year investment protects 900 jobs…And by coupling the aid to a commitment to build a co-generation boiler, the province hopes that the mill will edge its way back to profitability…
    There is some justification for that hope. “

    Here AIMS is quite supportive of ‘government intervention’ even to the point of their building an electricity generator for the mill.

    Example Three

    Shipbuilding

    From “Turning Shipbuilders into Masons”: “Furthermore existing government supports are insufficient to maintain its paltry share of the international market.”

    So you see they have NO problem with government supports, so long as the supports are going to businesses. Those are three examples from ten minutes searching, I could probably easily find more.

    Type in ‘Irving’ in their search engine and you only get twenty hits, and NONE of them are about forestry. Most are fluff pieces and few links to newspapers and some LNG topics, thats it.

    That’s how you can do effective propaganda, simply don’t talk about the places where your ‘ideology’ contrasts with what your financial supporters may want, but sometimes, like in the above, its necessary to come out with your true colours.

    AIMS is a lot of things, ‘radical free marketers’ isn’t one of them. More like ‘radical corporate propagandists’-for their corporate sponsors at least. Everybody knows from Day One of Adam Smith, ‘free markets’ require one thing that AIMS hates-and thats extensive government regulations.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Just to reply to Scott, Mel Hurtig often bashes Free trade, heres a talk available online:

    http://www.ourmedia.org/node/138729

    I think an argument can easily be made that free trade HAS hurt the canadian economy. I won’t go on about it, the signs are pretty clear, just go read a list of subsidies. As David points out, the strongest economies are the ones with the most govenrment handouts.

    It can also be easily argued that it has affected sovereignty and canadian identity. Particularly in the last ten years virtually all cultural products have been imported from the states. The ‘american way of life’ is very clearly the canadian way of life. Take a recent example in Fredericton of moving the Albert Street school. This is based on an american model of urban planning-move to the suburbs.

    The real kicker though is that virtually every topic brought up in canadian conversation at some point or another turns to the US. Yet canadians know very very little about the US, except the crap you see on TV. I know people who will swear that crime is rampant because they’ve seen Law and Order and almost every week lawyers get caught up because they never read moranda rights. In reality, virtually no criminal has ever had charges dropped because a cop never ‘read him his rights’.

  11. David Campbell says:

    I’ll end my comments by saying that if Brian Lee Crowley supports bailing out the pulp mill in Newfoundland $10M/year just to keep the thing afloat, I would be very surprised. I suspect he reached for the Rolaids but I could be wrong.

    Maybe I am a bit too sensitive, here. People are and should be free to debate concepts such as Atlantica. But I just can’t help but feeling that the CCPA is using Atlantica-bashing to further some other agenda.

    I mentioned once before that had coffee once with a guy who had run a manufacturing plant in Moncton in the 1970s until the national union demanded and got a national wage rate and the company promptly moved the plant to the GTA. The national union may have been well intended with their push for the same wage rate in all plants across the country but if it led to the entire closure of the Moncton plant, was it worth it?

    I think there is a loose parallel here.

  12. mikel says:

    Fair enough, just keep in mind that Brian Crowley is not ‘AIMS’, in fact now he’s working for the federal government now and the president is, well I forget but some other guy.

    What he feels about the NFLD deal is irrelevant, if you saw “The Corporation” then you remember all kinds of CEO’s, in fact even the CEO of Shell, say that if they had their druthers they’d do things differently. A not so loose parrallel here is if you recall “Canada-A People’s History”, it shows NB’s own RB Bennett sitting in Ottawa during the depression writing cheques for $20 to all the poor souls mailing him with pathetic stories. He was Prime Minister and there was literally nothing he could do and only the war came along to save the economy, and the country from imploding.

    Meanwhile, during north america’s depression Norway and Switzerland had unemployment highs of 5%. It’s always the system.

    Brian Crowley may have ideas of how things should be run, no doubt so do you, but the guy who signs your cheque, and the guy who signs Crowley’s cheque, ALWAYS have the final say. I would be surprised if you could even get Crowley to answer that question if you put it to him.

    As for the other sentiments, I’m not sure exactly how the CCPA equates with a national union, but a vague similarity doesn’t make a case. IF there is ‘an agenda’ then only by looking at the specific policies will that be known. So I’m going to do my first podcast on Atlantica next monday for ‘broadcastNB.com’

  13. Scott says:

    Yes, but you’re talking about depressionary times. This does not go on forever as the economy ultimately recovers.

    I mean even a fiscally conscious party like the So Creds under Manning realized that in very challenging times, something had to be done. He and Aberhart realized that even a Social Credit government needed to provide a dividend to citizens to fill the gap between what they earn and what was needed for the cost of the goods needed.

    But I emphasize gap here. I know that you are a little bit of the opposite philosophy here, but I see personal choice, deregulation and individual freedom as the best policy during an economic boom. You’re right though, government’s are in the business of sharing and making the playing field equitable for all its citizens. And usually during a depression, the above gets out of balance.

  14. Anonymous says:

    I just finished reading the entire CCPA paper, and it is pretty sound. Far from being ‘left’, they go on to claim that developing Halifax is great and fine and actually want to see developments in rail and ports rather than highways. That’s hardly a ‘right’ vs. ‘left’ ideology. When you are arguing ‘more ports’ vs. ‘more trucks’ then I have no idea how you’d pick the commie out of the two.

    THey also claim it makes more sense to target europe rather than asia, again that doesnt’ make them ‘left’ or else I’m living in wonderland with a completely different idea of what ‘right’ and ‘left’ mean.

    Finally with that, once again the idea that ‘trade should be pushed within canada’ and ‘trade should be pushed with the US’ is NOT a ‘right’ vs. ‘left’ argument. It is simply a policy debate. Those on the ‘left’ or socialists or what have you have a completely different notion of what trade means. I suspect that often the idea is simply a somewhat underhanded way of panning an opponents argument by making them seem specious.

    So to Mr.Campbell I’d state that he should keep in mind that IF the CCPA has some sort of agenda, he should remember that this study was written by two PE Islanders.

    As said above, everything comes down to balance. So in the CCPA study they talk about Norway’s oil industry and how profits are still made by oil companies, yet the country still retains 85% of its revenues. Contrary to ‘driving away investment’ Norway has as much interest from Shell, Petro Can, and several other oil companies as Canada has.

    To bring that into focus, Newfoundland is attempting to get a ‘better deal’ which once again AIMS pans, and the federal government pushes against for ‘ideological reasons’.

    I’d say that the difference here in philosophy is the idea that corporations should get carte blanche during times of prosperity and governments get little or nothing, meanwhile when ‘times get tough’ government’s job is to jump in with what meagre possessions it has and bail out these companies. That is often the model, and no I don’t agree with that. Some companies are good, others bad, the good ones will share when times are good and show that they deserve help when times are tough, and that’s decided by their treatment of workers.

    That’s actually a serious concession since I don’t believe an ‘owner’ has any more right to a ‘profit’ than a worker does. Again, take a look at The Corporation for an indepth look at that.

  15. Scott says:

    To a certain extent you’re right anon, Keynesian economics has gone by the wayside. But it could make a comeback in the form of a March federal budget. However, you could argue that the Liberal party has been doing that for over two decades, or at least since John Turner has been in.