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Visiting Grandchildren

Visiting Grandchildren: Economic Development in the Maritimes

Copyright Date: 2006
Pages: 430
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    Visiting Grandchildren
    Book Description:

    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." InVisiting 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 Grandchildrenlooks 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.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-8959-6
    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-xiv)
  4. Abbreviations
    (pp. xv-2)
  5. 1 Introduction
    (pp. 3-17)

    This book has two objectives: to examine past government efforts to promote economic development in the Maritime provinces and to lay the foundation for improved public policy. It is, of course, possible to look at Canada in several ways, according to ecological, physiographic, economic, or political criteria. The most common approach, however, has been to regard provinces and regions as synonymous.¹

    In this book, I have chosen to view the three small Maritime provinces as a single region. I do this for several reasons. For one thing, I am a Maritimer both by birth and by choice, and I have...

  6. 2 History Matters
    (pp. 18-49)

    In economic development, as in other things, history matters, and success breeds success much as failure breeds failure. The Maritime provinces have long been classified as a have-not region. Their economic progress in the last century was very tentative and, even then, only in a few areas. Significantly, many of the gains in per capita income and in high-quality public services that have been achieved over the last forty years or so can be directly attributed to federal transfer payments, which can also create an economic dependency. Moreover, the region actually lost ground in many sectors in the last century....

  7. 3 Theories Matter Less
    (pp. 50-80)

    What to do? How can governments promote economic development in the Maritime provinces? What lessons does the literature offer to policy makers? What advice does the spate of books and articles on regionalism, regional economic development, and economic dependency theory offer them? This chapter seeks to answer these questions and to provide an overview of the various approaches that have been suggested to promote development in slow-growth regions. We go back in history to trace the evolution of new thinking in regional development, and, in doing so, we focus on theories and approaches that are relevant to the Canadian context...

  8. 4 Trying This
    (pp. 81-96)

    Again, what to do? The literature, as we saw in chapter 3, is rather thin on the ground when it comes to policy and program prescriptions. The neo-conservative school can tell government to do nothing, but there is no need to describe how to do nothing. However, as long as there are politicians in Parliament from slow-growth regions, there will be pressure on government to do something. Perroux’s growth-pole concept offered some promise to policy makers, and many tried it, at least for a while. We also saw in chapter 2 the negative impact the National Policy had on the...

  9. 5 Trying That
    (pp. 97-129)

    The Liberal government regrouped in Ottawa after the 1972 election, badly shaken and barely clinging to power. It had won 109 seats to the Conservatives’ 107, losing over 40 seats in English Canada and suffering some humiliating defeats in traditionally safe Liberal seats.¹ Its clear parliamentary majority had been reduced to an almost untenable minority position. Regional economic development thus became a pivotal part of the government’s strategy to win back the support of the electorate and, given its position in Parliament, to win it back in a hurry. Adjustments were required, and Trudeau quickly made them. During the campaign,...

  10. 6 Mulroney: Inflicting Prosperity
    (pp. 130-164)

    Brian Mulroney led his Progressive Conservative Party to a sweeping victory in the 1984 general election. They won 211 seats, the largest number ever won in any general election in Canada. During the election campaign and immediately on assuming office, Mulroney served notice that his government had a new political agenda that represented a fundamental break with the Trudeau Liberal past.

    The new agenda involved four broad policy fronts: national reconciliation, economic renewal, social justice, and constructive internationalism.¹ Regional economic development was a key feature of the first two. Indeed, Mulroney had mentioned regional economic development time and again during...

  11. 7 Chrétien: Regional Economic Development Was All about Politics, Pragmatism, and National Unity
    (pp. 165-196)

    Jean Chrétien was a career politician, serving as a member of Parliament for forty years, and in the process he developed shrewd political instincts. He was a student of political power, and for him politics was essentially about winning and retaining power. As he explained: ‘the art of politics is learning to walk with your back to the wall, your elbows high, and a smile on your face. It’s a survival game played under the glare of light. If you don’t learn that, you’re quickly finished. The press wants to get you. The opposition wants to get you. Even some...

  12. 8 Heal Thyself
    (pp. 197-230)

    Are the Maritime provinces the ‘bellyache of Canada’?¹ There is no doubt that the region has a long history of pressing Ottawa for a better deal. It has played the supplicant, asking for more generous equalization payments, and has warned Ottawa not to tinker with transfer payments to individuals, such as employment insurance. Stephen Harper may well have hit a nerve in the Maritime provinces when he said that the region suffered from a ‘culture of defeat.’ But the observation may have resonated in other parts of the country as well,² because such thinking absolves them of any responsibility for...

  13. 9 The Region Then and Now
    (pp. 231-268)

    How is it, John Kenneth Galbraith once asked on a visit to New Brunswick, that strong economic development did not occur in the Maritime provinces in the last century?¹ The region, he pointed out, is strategically located between western Europe and New England and the eastern seaboard of the United States. How could it be, he wondered, that economic activity simply jumped over the Maritimes, to the eastern seaboard of the United States, on to the edges of western Europe and to central Canada? Why could the region not take advantage of its strategic geographical location? That question has become...

  14. 10 The Problem: Big Dogs Eat First
    (pp. 269-307)

    In May 2002, Stephen Harper, leader of the opposition, had this to say about the Maritime region’s economic problems: ‘Because of what happened in the decades following Confederation ... there is a culture of defeat that we have to overcome.’¹ A few months later theNational Postdeclared in an editorial, ‘Through equalization, regional development, overgenerous employment insurance, welfare and a welter of inefficient government make-work programs, we transfer billions from rich provinces to poor provinces. Albertans and Ontarians are getting awfully tired of subsidizing the buggy-whip makers of Canada’s backward regions.’² Similar observations can readily be found in the...

  15. 11 The Solution: Where Can Little Dogs Eat?
    (pp. 308-340)

    In our review of theories of economic and regional development in chapter 3, we concluded that none were just plain wrong, none disobeyed the rules of logic or were flagrant in conflict with known facts. We also saw that, for the most part, they offer little in the way of policy prescriptions that might set the Maritimes on a successful trajectory. This study makes the case that all regional economies depend on some government activism and intervention if they are to grow. Indeed, Canada’s economic development has been to some extent shaped by state development strategies, strategies that have had...

  16. Notes
    (pp. 341-384)
  17. Index
    (pp. 385-415)