Might as well go for a SODA

Stephen Harper has created the Southern Ontario Development Agency (SODA) and given it $1 billion over five years.   It’s kind of funny in a way.  The Conservatives are approaching the challenges in southern Ontario as if it were Atlantic Canada.  They upped the CHT, tweaked Equalization, extended EI benefits and now are setting up the region’s very own culture of defeat agency for Southern Ontario.

Southern Ontario’s success in the last 20 years (and well before that) has been the enormous amount of business investment that has been dumped in the region.  If you think auto, pharma, finance, life sciences, ICT – much of it greased with Industry Canada programs like the TCP.   Literally billions of dollars every year creating more new private sector jobs in one year than New Brunswick would see in 50 years.

What they should have done is just beefed up the international marketing efforts of Industry Canada.  The bulk of their work goes to Southern Ontario anyway.   Canada sucks up $30-$40 billion a year in FDI in a good year and most of it (with the exception of oil investment) goes to Ontario.  You can read about it here.  Basically, outward investment from Canada is fairly proportionate.  New Brunswick’s pension, RRSP and other investment monies flow out about the same as Ontario.  But on the inward side it is massively tilted in favour of Ontario.

Ontario better get back to that model and quick.  If that province becomes a truly have-not region, the Good Lord help us all.

PS – I can already hear my colleagues in T.O. saying that $200 million/year for SODA is still less than ACOA’s budget for a region 2-3 times larger.  Ahem.  SODA is on top of the entire resources of Industry Canada, Invest in Canada and the billions in funding programs channelled mostly to companies in that region (of which the TPC and the auto deal are the two most lucrative).

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7 Responses to Might as well go for a SODA

  1. Anonymous says:

    And don’t forget Donald Savoie’s observation that most all the federal Crown Corporations (e.g. Canada Post, AECL, CBC, EDC, SCC etc.) are headquartered in Ontario (and a few in Quebec) just in case the billions in program funding was not quite enough to stimulate the economy.

    If there was genuine federal desire to assist with Atlantic Canadian economic development, it would have been easy for a couple of these to be located in Atlantic Canada.

  2. nbt says:

    culture of defeat agency? funny, I could have sworn u were pro-regional development agency…much like the guy anonymous is talking about with regards to the decentralization of government units.

  3. It’s tongue in cheek NBT although I do think ACOA needs to radically change its mandate.

  4. Anonymous says:

    I think our unethical government is doing ok. At least it hasn’t varied much in my lifetime. Which is why I am glad to see the people not knowledgeable to the art of patronage have opportunities in Alberta.
    Its apparent that the U.S will never accept such shenanigans.Hence no Atlantica,and strengthened borders.

    Politics | Tories bash untendered contracts
    STEPHEN LLEWELLYN

    The Opposition is accusing the provincial government of violating the province’s policy by awarding contracts without tenders.

    Claude Williams, Tory MLA for Kent South, said Thursday that last year Business New Brunswick awarded 10 contracts worth nearly $1.4 million without going to tender. The contracts involved companies such as Walt Disney World, SGCI Communications Inc., Woodbridge Associates, CLDE Chaleur and CareerDoor Inc., among others.

    Williams said the contract with Walt Disney World was for a booth at a trade show for 54 days and was worth more than $100,000.

    http://dailygleaner.canadaeast.com/front/article/554809

  5. nbt says:

    I know…I’m just messing with ya. lol

  6. Anonymous says:

    Its the trend one needs to follow. Harper needed either Quebec or Ontario. He thought the best idea was Quebec. He was rejected and no doubt will never return their again for support.
    Today he gained Ontario. How will that affect NB ?I assume NB is now looked at as French and affiliated with Quebec,which it is,so can be considered a loss. So The new look is now Canada, with Ontario being brought back as the leader and the place to pour money and industry, and the rest ,excluding the Quebec and its satellite NB, will be the next place to build up,with the billions no longer needed to pacify the French!
    Anyone want to bet against me?

  7. Don Dennison says:

    I know I’m coming into this exchange late, but the stacking of SODA on top of Ontario’s long standing and munificant regional development agency – Industry Canada – prompts me to ask the question. Has anyone actually done the numbers recently e.g. over the last twenety-five years? Is this something we couild expect form APEC? We need ammunition if we want to go into the field.

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