Nova Scotia has an NDP Premier with a majority government. Politically it represents a major breakthrough in Atlantic Canada.
I’ll be very interested to see how the NDP tackles economic development in Nova Scotia. The political temptation (or at least political history in the region) has been to talk up economic development and then spend 99% of the government’s effort on other issues. The old political stand bys of pouring hundreds of millions more into health care, building more roads and increasing goverment spending well beyond the rate of economic growth are easier than coming up with a serious economic development effort.
It seems to me that if the NDP can be the first government to turn the economic ship around in Nova Scotia in years (i.e. a sustained period of economic and population growth across the province), they will be able to write their own ticket. I think people are ready for action on the economic development front not more rhetoric.
Solidifying Halifax as a financial, IT and life sciences centre will be key. So will finding new economic opportunities for smaller urban and rural Nova Scotia. Manufacturing, green energy, more value add around the natural resources and smaller technology-based opportunities aligned with Halifax make sense.
I think it’s a good thing. The Libs and the Conservatives in Nova Scotia have not been able to make any serious economic development breakthroughs. Employment growth, population growth and other key metrics all looked better in the 1970s than today.
The PCs were handed that $800 million oil dividend from the feds and put it right to retiring debt. I said at the time that was a mistake. It was in my opinion a bit like paying down on your mortgage when you can’t afford to make your monthly payments and your kids have to leave the house because you can’t afford to pay to keep them. But AIMS and others were adamant that Nova Scotia follow the same old track of marginally cutting taxes, reducing debt and crossing fingers.
Nova Scotia has great economic potential. Halifax can be (and is in many ways) a serious economic engine for the province in the way that Toronto is for Ontario. But at the same time, I think that more can be done in other parts of the province.
I’ll be watching.