The big ping pong game

I just got a chance to read through some of the ‘Stop Atlantica’ stuff. Most of it is rubbish. Plain and simple. They have raised some important issues and then blasted them out of an ideological cannon designed to rile up the base but also annoy just about everyone with some average understanding of the issues at hand.

You know I am not a big fan of Brian Lee Crowley, either (if you have been reading this blog).

It’s like some big, high stakes ping pong game with Atlantic Canada as the little white ball. On the one side, We have Maude Barlow saying “we’ve lost the rest of Canada to the grip of those damn yankees so by the cripes we’re gonna make our stand in Atlantic Canada”. And on the other side, you’ve got Crowley saying we’ll finally put it to those left wing commies.

It’s like this effort – which was actually a Neville Gilfoy conception (or promotion) as a genuine and legitimate concern for the economic and social potential of the poorest region in all of the United States and Canada. A region that was (is) shedding population. A region that has the lowest standard of living in the two countries. The basic thinking was that north/south was a more natural and logical trading pattern. One that had been all but severed. At the same time, the Ontario/U.S. trading pattern had led to enormous economic growth and provided much of the funding for the national government in Canada to do what it does. So, innocently enough, maybe we could – over time -try and replicate some of that success here?

But, no. This has to become some to the death ideologcial battle.

The truth is that reality lies somewhere in the middle. But Barlow and Crowley see themselves as the defenders of all thats good and holy. I just see it as cowardly for not being able to admit that somebody else might have a small chunk of the truth on their side.

The reality is that Barlow and the Stop Atlantica crowd make some good points. But instead of advocating that the Atlantica supporters build in safeguards for the environment or labour standards, etc., she just rails on and on with wildly ridiculous thundering ovations and demands that Atlantica be crushed in its infancy. Playing to her base, I guess. For anyone to think that the proponents of Atlantica actually want to lower wages, lower the standard of living, lower the quality of the environment, etc. is just plain silly. But, on the other hand, these things should be on the table when discussing Atlantica. It makes sense. But now, to even mention ‘environment’ or ‘labour standards’ means you are siding with Maude.

On the other side, Crowley pummels his chest and demands that the government remove itself from all aspects of the the community. Get out, you are hampering growth, he says. Taxation is plunder (a la Bastiat) and Atlantic Canada’s serfdom has come by the road of big government.

The reality is that Crowley makes some good points. We can overdo government. We can create disincentives to work or advancement. Government can lean towards controlling more and more of community life – it in some cases wants to wedge its way in to every social or economic problem and that can lead to bad and even tragic outcomes. So when we are conceiving the grand schemes of government and broad brush solutions, we should consider the implications on free will, on personal motivation, on self-determination. It is arrogance to think that government can solve all the problems of the world. But now, to even mention ‘personal responsibility or ‘work ethic’ means you are siding with Crowley.

The truth of the matter is that I hope the Atlantica movement soldiers on. I hope they keep as their main goal raising the economic standard of living of this region and providing a strong economic base on which our communities can survive and thrive and let us get on with the business community building. We want our kids to have the option to stay here. We want to lesson our dependence on Equalization and ephemeral transfer payments. The objectives of Atlantica should be put through the important 21st century filters of environment and social justice. Proponents should be aware of and celebrate the cultural differences between Canada and the U.S. and be able to agreeably disagree on matters.

But I fear that Atlantica will go the way of the Dodo bird. It is a very difficult thing to get multiple provincial/state governments – let alone national governments – to cooperate. Particularly when its a poor region and everyone has the “what’s in it for me” thermostats set to maximum. Add on a systematic and sustained campaign to turn Atlantica into the last stand for the anti-globalization movement, and I think there isn’t much chance of survival.

So, Maude will likely win and will sit back with a pompous grin on her face as she nestles into her life in the heartland of Canada’s economic strength – a strength in many ways built on its relationship with the Americans. She’ll get paid – and likely paid well – to drive a nail in Atlantica and set back economic renewal in this region for another generation. But I guess maybe that’s someone’s version of success.

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0 Responses to The big ping pong game

  1. mikel says:

    You don’t have to worry about it going the way of the dodo, its already pretty much here.

    Let’s go through it again shall we, the vast majority of exports from New Brunswick go to the US, and almost all the oil.

    Virtually all federal and provincial infrastructure spending is on highways.

    Virtually all the legislation that is enacted in the legislature is about industry (why for heavens sake does NOBODY in the province look at what their government actually DOES-Oh, I forgot, the ‘anti atlantica’ do, but strangely enough they’re the ones who are constantly berated by the people who never even look at their government except through the eyes of the Irvings).

    Harper says that he MAY be amenable to more federal dollars so long as they are tied to the Atlantica concept.

    NB Power looks at building far more energy infrastructure than the province actually needs, all on the hopes that it can be sold south.

    The minimum wage is raised twice, but barely, and not even close to what was recommended. Meanwhile, Crowley lobbies into Harper’s ear for the work visas to get more mexican truck drivers.

    Geez, what’s left? If THAT isn’t Atlantica then I don’t know what is. I’m starting to understand your incredulity at politicians who don’t seem to ‘get it’ even though the facts are right there.

    Meanwhile, I’ve got news, the council of canadians doesn’t have vested interests, they only have the interests of their MEMBERS,namely, canadians. However, you give them too much credit, like most federal organizations they have zero members out east and ignore it as much as the feds do. Her battles have ALWAYS been out west, she comes out east every once in a blue moon because there is an Atlantica meeting. And the reason for that is the same as in politics-no members, means no representation.

    But the atlantica people have the Irvings and all the billionaire corporations, so don’t worry about Atlantica going anywhere. It just won’t bring any of the benefits…I almost said ‘any of the benefits that they’ve promised’, but then I remembered, they haven’t even OFFERED any benefits!

  2. NB taxpayer says:

    On the other side, Crowley pummels his chest and demands that the government remove itself from all aspects of the the community.

    Not quite. He’s a libertarian, like myself, and believes that business pork and failed national policies should be eliminated (or at least reworked)

    He believes that tax dollars should be directed to purposes that offer the largest societal benefit or to those areas where voters have decided (through their politicians) that government should spend money for reasons, sometimes extraordinary ones, i.e. Marshal plan, which rebuilt Western Europe.

    For example, things that benefit the public good may include roads, sewers, national defence, policing, customs, border security, immigration, hospitals and assitance for the disabled and mentally challenged.

    Things that are wasteful include grants and loans for racetracks owners, business and government consultants, special interests, and corporate welfare loans. Not to mention, granting too much power to corrupt and meddlesome bureaucrats with an authoritarian agenda and the power to tax.

    Let’s just say, all the functions above could be accomplished better through the private sector.

    Btw, if that’s removing oneself from all aspects of the community, than so be it. However, there does have to be a balance as you have said many times.