Momentum continued to build on day two of the inaugural Atlantic Economic Forum, hosted by StFX’s Brian Mulroney Institute of Government, a three-day forum focused on Atlantic economic development.
The Hon. Lisa Raitt and the Hon. Anne McLellan, co-chairs of Coalition for a Better Future (CBF), closed out a full day of excellent sessions with an evening fireside chat and a discussion centred around emerging economic opportunities and challenges for Atlantic Canada, and the CBF Scorecard, released in March.
Ms. Raitt, Vice-Chair of Global Investment Banking at CIBC and former Minister of Transport, Labour and Natural Resources, and Ms. McLellan, former Deputy Prime Minister of Canada, spoke about how important it is for the future and wellbeing of the country that it focuses on inclusive, sustainable, long-term economic growth.
“We just can’t be complacent. We can’t sit around. We need to take all our creativity and use it to make Canada better and to help the world,” Ms. McLellan said.
“What we’re imparting on people is how important growth is,” Ms. Raitt said. Growth, she said, is key to keeping the quality of life we enjoy and ensuring it doesn’t fall away.
If we don’t have economic growth, it’s going to diminish our power to help ourselves, the panelists said.
Complacency, the panelists said, happens when we get by fine by being just good enough, but it’s also a reason why Canada still lags behind in certain areas, when we don’t step out and take that risk that could make us a global champion.
About 300 delegates are at StFX for the forum, which runs through Wednesday, June 21. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney helped opened the event on Monday June 19th.
Danny Graham, Chief Engagement Officer, Engage Nova Scotia, served as moderator of the fireside chat. Tim Church, VP Government Relations at Emera, introduced the panelists.
“We hope the conversation continues. This is an exciting opportunity,” Mr. Graham said after a wide-ranging conversation that saw Ms. Raitt and Ms. McLellan speak about concerns and strengths, and about what things give them hope (“the people, first and foremost.”)
The Coalition for a Better Future came into existence in late summer 2021, at a time when Canadians were coming out of COVID and starting to reflect on lessons learned and how we can do things differently and better. Building back better, they said, should include long-term, sustainable and inclusive economic growth.
“It’s so important to the future and wellbeing of our country.”
During the conversation, the panelists spoke about the importance of collaboration and listening to each other to achieve objectives, and the importance of inclusive economies to ensure our communities are stable and resilient. They spoke of the importance of figuring out who and where are the young people who are not in training, education or employment and are falling behind and what we can do to help them. They also touched on how important it is in growing our economy to make space for underrepresented groups to have the ability to move up in leadership roles.
Brian Mulroney Institute of Government Director Dr. Donald Abelson offered opening remarks at the event. He spoke about the institute, its four-year Public Policy and Governance degree, as well as its research efforts and its public outreach. “Part of our mandate is to help shape the discourse around public policy This (forum) stands as a testament to what can be achieved when we all come together.”
DAY TWO HIGHLIGHTS
Day two was highlighted by a full day of plenary sessions held in Barrick Auditorium, Mulroney Hall.
Ken Langone, CEO, Invemed, lead a well-attended session in the afternoon on realizing economic potential in Atlantic Canada.
The morning sessions focused on how universities and colleges are fueling economic prosperity in Atlantic Canada and on trends and developments in the regional economy since 2010.
Several concurrent panel sessions took place throughout the day in Scholars Walk, Mulroney Hall. These sessions were themed around urban growth and housing challenges; public finances and sustainable services; a transforming labour force; next generation technology sectors: agri-food, fisheries and food security: and green economy, carbon reductions and energy futures.
LEADERS COME TOGETHER
Along with two prime ministers, the Atlantic Economic Forum has brought together business, government and policy leaders to discuss the challenges and opportunities facing the region and to look at ways to help Atlantic communities grow and succeed.
The opening event saw a number of speakers deliver remarks. These included the Honourable Sean Fraser, Minister of Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship and MP for Central Nova; the Honourable Frank McKenna, Deputy Chairman, TD Bank & Former Premier of New Brunswick; Nova Scotia Premier Tim Houston; and the Honourable Ginette Petitpas Taylor, Minister of the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency.
Cynthia Dorrington, President of Vale & Associates & StFX Board of Governors, emceed the opening program. StFX Elder-in-Residence Kerry Prosper offered a blessing and high school student Ainslie Pictou performed the women’s fancy shawl jingle dance.