The more things change, the more they stay the same

Alec Bruce’s piece in the Times & Transcript that was refreshingly indignant about those who would say that Alberta’s economic boom is benefiting Atlantic Canada because our highly skilled tradespersons are going out there and ‘sending back their cheques’ to be spent in Atlantic Canada.

Well, a quick history lesson will reveal that perils in that approach to local economic development.

Here’s a piece in the Salem News from a couple of weeks ago:

Job opportunities fueled early immigrant wave on the North Shore

Gloucester [North of Boston, Mass.] in general boasts an ethnically diverse population. In the 19th century, the town’s world-renowned fishing industry came to rely on Irish and Nova Scotian mariners to man its ever-growing fleet of Grand Bank schooners. Initially many of the newcomers lived in Gloucester only between voyages during the fishing season. But by 1890, nearly 40 percent of Gloucester’s permanent residents were from Canada and its maritime provinces.

That’s over a hunded years ago folks. Substitute ‘Alberta’ for ‘Gloucester’ and you are in circa 2006. Eventually, people will get tired of the commute, give up and bring their families out to Alberta to stay – just as they did 115 years ago.

So I agree with Mr. Bruce on this one folks. Sending paycheques from Alberta to Atlantic Canada is a poor substitute for real economic development here and the ultimate results will be inevitable.

Gloucester is one example out of probably hundreds.