Diamond Aircraft

A few thoughts on the big local news story:

So the Conservative Government released the news that many Londoners have been waiting to hear for some time. Sadly, the decision by Industry Canada to not provide Diamond Aircraft may lead to yet another significant jolt to an already struggling London economy. Aerospace and Defense seem like such great industries for London to be involved in and the City is definitely making strides in these sectors. So this decision seems to be more about short-term budgeting than long-term economic development planning.

Still, this serves as evidence to those who would lure other industries to any jurisdiction through the use of economic incentives – Diamond has already threatened to close up shop without this funding, which doesn’t say too much positively about its own prospects. To some degree, Tony Clement is correct when he says success in the marketplace should bring about financing (or words to that effect.) Private loans are available (more now than over the previous 3 years) for viable businesses. But one might also quibble that government is in a much better position to endure significant risk, particularly when it comes to strategic industries/sectors in strategic locations. One might recall Clement’s decision with respect to Saskatchewan’s Potash Corp., and be justified in wondering aloud that the Conservatives aren’t nearly as concerned about electoral health in Southern Ontario as they are in serving their western breadbasket of support.

I did enjoy Phillip McLeod’s blog and think he’s definitely provided a sound summary. See it here

On another, somewhat related note, I have to wonder why Canadians would any longer grasp so firmly to a belief in local representation at Queen’s Park or Ottawa. 3 of 4 area members of Parliament are Conservatives. This seems (as it shouldn’t) to have played no roll in the decision. I say shouldn’t because conflict of interest is a serious matter and when acting as Ministers, local reps cannot get involved with decisions affecting their constituents directly. I recall St. Paul’s residents being rather irate because then Attorney General Michael Bryant could not get involved with OMB appeals arising from development applications in his riding (and Walker’s ward.)

However this is not a party that has been scared about rewarding its own constituencies while shunning others. Sheila Fraser’s report on the G8/G20 should illuminate this better in coming months. London has been shortchanged on stimulus funding and the results are clear – a stagnant local economy that loses jobs as quickly as it adds them, and the ones that are added are generally not as good as the ones lost. So why are we beholden to local reps if they can’t or shouldn’t interfere with matters before ministries, particularly those that they happen to become involved with as Ministers? Is it not time for Proportional Representation when the collective views are neither reflected in parliament’s make-up or in the make-up of a local member’s position in parliament?  And because of Party discipline, we may never know how Ed Holder or Susan Truppe actually feel. Such is our democracy.

Lastly, when it comes to voting, it appears Londoners believe their local government is more responsible for economic development than any other government and yet, when it comes to funding Economic Development, many Londoners want to reduce funding to things like the Stiller Centre, for an Arts Campus for Fanshawe and LEDC gets or not increase funding to community service-delivery partners who were instructed to flat-line budget requests from City Hall this year. Don’t even mention a Performing Arts Centre as an Economic Development tool or you’ll be tarred as a lefty and dragged to the edge of the latest House farm. This is very sad as it simply states that Londoners are significantly misinformed about the roles governments and ultimately, that all of us play in economic development and the underlying cause and effect of our local economy and the decisions we make as we build it. We too often rely on others to solve our problems and to provide us with goods and services generally – without ever thinking about the local consequences or how we might provide these things to ourselves with a higher economic impact.


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