I am reading through Norman Levine’s Canada Made Me – a book written in the 50s that paints a fairly bleak view of Canada. Levine meanders across Canada from Halifax to Vancouver and back and then writes up some gritty and sometimes downright negative views of our country.
I find this quite refreshing after being inundated on a daily basis with all the talk about how great our country is: best healthcare system in the world, best quality of life, highest standard of living, most tolerant society, etc. etc. etc.
Problem is there is no international data to back any of these claims up. Further, I once heard that if you are the one saying how great you are (and no one else), that usually means you have a major self-confidence problem.
But I digress.
My point is that Levine makes some interesting economic development related points. As the book is set in the 1950s, that makes it quite intriguing.
Couple of points:
1) On immigration. He quotes an old Ukranian immigrant living in Edmonton who states that when they arrived in Canada in the early part of the century – they all wanted to settle in Ontario but immigration officials kept the train locked until Alberta – no one was allowed out. Point? If people want to move to your country, governments should be able to set policy about where then settle. Read: Atlantic Canada, Manitoba, Saskatchewan and just about anywhere outside the 6 or 7 biggest cities in Canada.
2) On economic development. He quotes from a tourism brochure for the City of Edmonton circa 1950. The brochure states something like city leaders want to make Edmonton the capital of the new west by attracting business and growing the economy. Imagine. An economic development pitch in a tourism brochure. In New Brunswick, you’ll get a picture of the Premier pushing lighthouses.