Donald Savoie’s new book is still not out (hopefully next month) but Chapters on line has an interesting write up on the book:
Visiting Grandchildren: Economic Development in the Maritimes
Author: Donald J. Savoie
From the Publisher“During his successful campaign to become Conservative Party leader in the spring of 2004, Stephen Harper said of the Maritime provinces, “”We will see the day when the region is not the place where you visit your grandparents, but instead more often than not the place where you visit your grandchildren.”” In Visiting Grandchildren, esteemed policy analyst and scholar Donald J. Savoie explores how Canadian economic policies have served to exclude the Maritime provinces from the wealth enjoyed in many other parts of the country, especially southern Ontario, and calls for a radical new approach in how Canadian governments determine policies that affect the different regions.
Savoie advocates a ’ratchet effect’ for national economic policies, whereby regions take turns at high growth, with the slow-growth region of one period becoming the high-growth region of the next, with none moving from slow-growth to decline. He demonstrates how this pattern has been effective in countries undergoing long-term regional convergence and how it would recognize that what is good for the Maritimes is good for Canada no less than what is good for Ontario is good for Canada.
Visiting Grandchildren looks to history, accidents of geography, and to the workings of national political and administrative institutions to explain the relative underdevelopment of the Maritime provinces. Savoie argues that the region must strive to redefine its relationship with the national government and with other regions, that it must ask fundamental questions of itself about its own responsibility for its present underdevelopment, develop a cooperative mindset, and embrace the market, if it is to prosper in the twenty-first century. Savoie’s work serves as the blueprint for a new way of envisioning the Maritime region.
This is the crux of my thesis too (I’m just not an esteemed scholar):
…regions take turns at high growth, with the slow-growth region of one period becoming the high-growth region of the next, with none moving from slow-growth to decline.
Based on my research, this is how the most successful economies work. Take the U.S., over 10, 20, 30 year cycles ( and more), growth has occured just about in every region of the country – but no region has been hammered negatively. New England slips, Arizona booms. Georgia booms, New York slips.
Successful national economies have good flow of labour and capital within the country. Communities overheat – capital moves to the next location. The overheated economy cools – capital moves back.
But in Canada, according to Statistics Canada, growth has been concentrated in four areas since 1973: Greater Vancouver, Calgary/Edmonton corridor, Greater GTA and Montreal.
Some would argue that Atlantic Canada hasn’t been on the radar since Confederation. That the only capital that flows here is to exploit natural resources. They have a point. Name me 2 or 3 industries that have flourished here that are not tied to natural resources or local market considerations (call centres are definitely one).
But the most curious thing about that write up is that Stephen Harper made that quip about Visiting Grand Children.
I thought the ‘Calgary School’ wanted Atlantic Canada to just dry up and go away.