Underdevelopment in Atlantic Canada
Publisher: John Watt, c/o Waterloo Public Interest Research Group
Year Published: 1981
Pages: 63pp Resource Type: Article
Cx Number: CX2299
In this brief three-part study, John Watt examines some of the main issues concerning underdevelopment in the Atlantic provinces.
In this brief three-part study, John Watt examines some of the main issues concerning underdevelopment in the Atlantic provinces. The first part characterizes some of the elements that constitute underdevelopment. Secondly, historical trends that have contributed to the underdevelopment of the region are examined. Part three looks at the present situation and government policy directed towards the region.
Statistics describing the Atlantic economy such as unemployment rates, income per capita and out-migration are compared to Canadian averages. The imbalance in these statistics is shown to be consistently unfavourable to the Atlantic provinces. The author then rejects orthodox economic explanations of underdevelopment, turning his attention to an historical analysis.
Up until Confederation, the Atlantic provinces are seen to have been dominated by foreign and indigenous mercantile (trade) groups, those groups uninterested in fostering a strong productive economic base in the region. After Confederation, a brief spurt of growth ensued as a result of the 1879 National Policy. But with the concentration and centralization of capital - for example, the consolidation of the big banking interests in Montreal and Toronto - further control over economic development was lost. The author suggests that the history of outside control of the Atlantic economy has been the major cause of underdevelopment in the region.
The author points to the idea that underdevelopment in the region will persist if the "causes" of underdevelopment are not recognized and if government policies remain oriented towards curing the symptoms of a much deeper malady. John Watt maintains that the Atlantic provinces must be accorded more importance within the context of a national policy, that local control of economic development be encouraged in order to facilitate the investment of returns locally and that workers at the micro-level have more of a say in the direction of their labour.
Also included in the same reader are papers on "the Political Economy of a Community of Single Enterprise," "Canadian Military Spending and Underdevelopment" and "Multi-National Corporations and the Underdevelopment of Africa."