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Against the Tide

Against the Tide: Battling for Economic Renewal in Newfoundland and Labrador

Copyright Date: 1999
Pages: 352
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  • Book Info
    Against the Tide
    Book Description:

    Appointed head of Newfoundland's Economic Recovery Commission, House was struck by the unyielding strength of the bureaucratic barriers of government. A testament to the difficulty of fighting the tide of political and bureaucratic power in Canada.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-7071-6
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Preface
    (pp. ix-xii)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
  5. Abbreviations
    (pp. xv-xvi)
  6. MAP 1 Regional Economic Development: Island Of Newfoundland
    (pp. xvii-xvii)
  7. MAP 2 Regional Economic Development: Labrador
    (pp. xviii-2)
  8. 1 Prologue: Reflections on a Royal Commission
    (pp. 3-17)

    I was sitting at home one evening in the winter of 1985 when the telephone rang. At the time, I was a professor of sociology and research director of the Institute of Social and Economic Research at Memorial University, and had recently published a book entitledThe Challenge of Oil.¹ The caller was David Vardy, who, at the time, was the provinceʹs senior public servant, holding the positions of clerk of the Executive Council and secretary to Cabinet.

    Vardy told me that he was calling on behalf of the premier, who was then Brian Peckford, leader of the Progressive Conservative...

  9. 2 Vision: The New Economy in Newfoundland and Labrador
    (pp. 18-29)

    This book is mainly about theefforts– the struggles and the battles – of the members of the Economic Recovery Commission and its allies to transform the Newfoundland and Labrador economy to be more effective in creating wealth and generating employment for its people. To put these efforts into context, the reader needs first to know what the vision and the approach of the ERC were. Although they were to evolve somewhat during the first few years of the commissionʹs work, I shall state that vision and approach here concisely to set the context for the discussions and analyses...

  10. 3 Reality: The System and the People
    (pp. 30-49)

    Before we can understand the trials and tribulations, successes and failures of the Economic Recovery Commission, we need first to set the scene in terms of the nature of politics and the ʹworkings of governmentʹ in Newfoundland and Labrador in recent years. I want to emphasize from the outset that ʹgovernmentʹ is not a thing apart from people, although it may seem so to most of the people most of the time. Government, or at least any particular government – in this case the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador in the 1980s and 1990s is aprocessof people behaving...

  11. 4 Appointment and Demotion
    (pp. 50-74)

    When the Economic Recovery Commission was first formed, everyone involved, including me and the other commissioners, assumed that it was to be a powerful agency. If it was to fulfil its daunting mandate, which, as its name suggested, was nothing less than the recovery of the ailing economy of Newfoundland and Labrador, then it needed to have been given the tools to do the job. While it appeared initially that this was to be the case, in practice it was not. Part of the reason for this was Premier Wellsʹs naïveté when he first took office about how government actually...

  12. 5 Bureaucratic Obstruction
    (pp. 75-93)

    Whenever there is a change in government, particularly when a new party comes into power, the established senior bureaucrats fear for their jobs. The transition period between the old regime and the new regime is when they are most likely to be replaced. One of Clyde Wellsʹs first acts on taking office was to reduce the number of departments from eighteen to twelve. This left a surplus of deputy ministers. Two prominent senior public servants, Ray Andrews, who had served for many years as deputy minister of Fisheries, and Ron Penney, who had been deputy minister of Justice, were let...

  13. 6 Battling Back: From Frontal Attack to Guerrilla Warfare
    (pp. 94-124)

    Its first six months were a period of adjustment for the Economic Recovery Commission. We found ourselves thrown into a heavy workload as the board of directors of the Newfoundland and Labrador Development Corporation and on the fisheries task force. These activities provided opportunities for initiating the implementation of various parts of the integrated approach as outlined inBuilding on Our Strengths, and were therefore consistent with our mandate as we interpreted it. But we did not feel enough in control of our own agenda.

    Early on, as well, we learned the painful lesson that we were not as powerful...

  14. 7 The Rise and Fall of ENL and the Enterprise Network
    (pp. 125-149)

    When the Economic Recovery Commission was first constituted in the spring of 1989, Premier Wells decided that its chairperson and commissioners should become the chairperson and members of the board of directors of the Newfoundland and Labrador Development Corporation. First established in 1973 as a joint federal/provincial crown corporation to support economic development in the province, the Newfoundland and Labrador Development Corporation was in the process of transition into a purely provincial agency. Its focus was mainly on providing financial and non-financial support services to small and medium-sized businesses. While it had on its books both a venture-capital program and...

  15. 8 Battling the Federal System: Income-Security Reform
    (pp. 150-175)

    Battling the provincial bureaucracy and dealing with provincial politicians consumed much of the time and energy of the Economic Recovery Commission. On the whole, we enjoyed better relations with federal officials within the province and, on the Economic Renewal Strategy, from the Privy Council Office in Ottawa as well. The ERC also enjoyed good cooperation from federal officials within the Department of Fisheries and Oceans in our work on recreational fisheries and from officials at Human Resources Development Canada on an apprenticeship program for new-economy careers.

    There was one major initiative, however, on which federal rather than provincial bureaucratic obstruction...

  16. 9 An Attempted Coup and the New Regional Economic Development
    (pp. 176-203)

    Although I had seriously considered resigning in the spring of 1993, after the ERCʹs ignominious defeat in the battle of Enterprise Newfoundland and Labrador Corporation, I decided to stay until the end of August 1994, to focus mainly on income-security reform and on the new public-education initiative that we called Getting the Message Out.

    Two things happened early in 1994, however, that caused me to change my mind and stay on longer. The first was a dramatic attempt, in concert with Edsel Bonnell and Chuck Furey, to overthrow the Old Guard and replace it with a New Guard made up...

  17. 10 The Purge of the ERC
    (pp. 204-219)

    As shown by the earlier examples of the Action Group under Premier Frank Moores and the Petroleum Directorate under Premier Brian Peckford, an agency set up by a particular premier outside the mainstream of the government bureaucracy leads a precarious and usually temporary existence. The Economic Recovery Commission proved to be no exception to this rule.

    On 28 December 1995 Clyde Wells announced his decision to resign as premier and leader of the Liberal Party of Newfoundland and Labrador. Shortly thereafter, Brian Tobin, who had gained national and even international prominence and become something of a Newfoundland folk hero as...

  18. 11 Victory: A New Paradigm for Development
    (pp. 220-235)

    In a widely read book, the science historian Thomas Kuhn distinguishes between what he calls a ʹnormal phaseʹ and a ʹrevolutionary phaseʹ of scientific development.¹ During a normal phase, scientists proceed on the basis of certain common assumptions and models about their subject matter that Kuhn calls a ʹparadigm.ʹ At various critical times, however, the currently accepted paradigm seems no longer to fit. It fails to provide convincing explanations of new evidence and point the way to the future for the discipline. At such a time, which Kuhn calls the revolutionary phase, new ways of thinking are tried until a...

  19. 12 Conclusion: What Is to Be Done?
    (pp. 236-260)

    In 1986, when the Royal Commission on Employment and Unemployment completed its work, the official unemployment rate for Newfoundland and Labrador was more than 20 per cent, about twice the national average. A decade later, when the Economic Recovery Commission completed its work, the unemployment rate was still close to 20 per cent, about twice the national average, and the rate of out-migration had increased. For someone who had spent most of the decade working on economic development for the province, in the belief that a stronger economy would mean more jobs and a lower unemployment rate, these are discouraging...

  20. APPENDIX 1 Members of the ERC
    (pp. 261-261)
  21. APPENDIX 2 Mandate of the ERC
    (pp. 262-263)
  22. APPENDIX 3 ENL Is Not a Bank
    (pp. 264-268)
  23. Notes
    (pp. 269-282)
  24. Bibliography
    (pp. 283-288)
  25. Index
    (pp. 289-299)