Reaching Atlantica

I was able to attend much of the Reaching Atlantica conference this week in Saint John. I am encouraged by the traction this theoretical economic zone is getting. I had a whole blog prepared on Maude Barlow and ‘Resisting Atlantica’ but it’s so stupid I have decided to truncate my comments to these:

Maude says in her speech that ‘we saw what happened the last time we tried further economic integration with the US and we don’t want that to happen again’.

So she is either ignorant, naive or down right hateful of the region of her birth. The last serious attempt at ‘economic integration’ with the US was the Auto Pact. Ontario has become one of the strongest regional economies in the world – and most economists credit that Pact as the top contributing factor. Talk about integration – auto parts manufacturers in Ontario ship parts to auto plants in Michigan for delivery into the assembly process in 15 minute increments.

In fact, many serious economic historians (including D. Savoie) now believe that forced economic integration with central Canada led to Atlantic Canada’s economic collapse and its current position as the poorest region in North America (as measured by income levels, persons under the poverty line, etc.).

What was amazing is that now some northern New England experts believe that the economic problems in northern Maine, Vermont, etc. were also part of a’forced economic integration southward with the rest of the US. The former May of Bangor spoke and made a compelling case based on historical economic data.

So, Atlantica is about re-establishing historical trade and investment patterns. After 125 years of trying economic integration with the rest of Canada, I think we should give it a try. No one is talking about political integration. Politics has been the problem. Politics should either be supportive or get out of the way.

Almost right on time, Statistics Canada published a study last week that Atlantic Canada was the region in Canada that least benefited from NAFTA. They stated that the lack of trade between the US and Atl. Canada was the reason behind this. Not enough ‘integration’ i.e. Bangor companies selling to NB companies and vice versa.

The Maude Barlow thing would be funny if it wasn’t so sad. It’s a bit like Maude and her gang picking on poor people for attempting to get out of poverty. Atlantic Canada is the poorest region in North America. Even with massive Federal subsidies we have a higher percentage of people below the poverty line than West Virginia and Alabama.

What’s really going on is Atlantic Canada has become the latest pawn in Maude’s war against the U.S. And given the fragile political situation in the region right now (minorities, almost minorities, etc.), her little antics might just have the effect she wishes.

And when the region’s economy continues to decline and population continues to leave, she can take heart that her agenda is being served.