Canadian Regional Economic Development
School of Public Administration
Class: Tue and Thu 1730-2030 Rm 3001 Kenneth Rowe
Instructor: Peter Estey (Federal Public Servant in Residence)
Office: 3030 Kenneth Rowe
Telephone: (902) 494 – 3782
Office Hours: Tue and Thu 1500 -1700
Introduction and Background
Section 36 of the Canadian Constitution includes a commitment to furthering economic
development by the federal and provincial governments. These orders of government
have lived up to their commitment with a variety of approaches, not to mention varying
amounts of enthusiasm and success. Although municipal units are not required to respond
to a constitutional imperative, it is difficult to imagine any municipal unit which does not
have a deliberate focus on economic development within its boundaries. We are all
living in an environment where economic development is a conscious activity by at least
three orders of public administration.
Regional Economic Development (RED) affects every Canadian citizen and virtually all
government policies and programs have some direct or indirect impact on RED.
Therefore, an understanding of the theory and practice of RED is important to all public
servants. RED practice in Canada tends to be driven more by on-the-ground realities –
economic, social and political – than by the deliberate application of a set of explicit
conceptual theories. Intervention in regional economies is a generally accepted practice
of and by government. It is the manner in which governments intervene which tends to
generate more debate. This course will tend to focus on the practical application of RED
theory. The individual activities and programs of RED organizations will be examined
for their theoretical underpinnings.
The course will cover: regional economic development as a global phenomenon; recent
federal regional development policy; national economic development efforts of Industry
Canada and the three major federal regional development agencies; provincial
approaches to local economic development; community-based approaches to their
economic development, including urban and rural examples; adjustment activities, and
recent Aboriginal economic development from a federal perspective.
The course will include a variety of learning methods. About one half of classes will
include lectures by the instructor and/or a guest. About one third of classes will involve a
discussion forum, led by a student, on a specific question related to RED. There will be
small group work, individual and group presentations, as well as an element of role
playing, which, when combined, will be present in about one half of the classes. Each
student is expected to be an active participant in all aspects of this course.
All Regional Economic Development is – or should be - focused on individuals and the
communities in which they live. Within this core foundation, the objectives of this course
- expose students to the various approaches and conceptual foundations for RED
- familiarize students with the principal issues related to RED in Canada;
- familiarize students with the main instruments of RED within Canada;
- expose students to the economic development efforts of a variety of Provincial
Governments (with an emphasis on Atlantic Canada);
- expose students to economic development efforts of a variety of municipal/community
- explore mechanisms for creating policy and program coherence among the various
players in RED.
It is expected that the course will require an average workload of about 150 hours.
Attendance at class, attention to core readings, preparation of class presentations and the
term paper should adequately prepare each student for the final exam.
Class presentations 39% (1)
Term Paper (To be discussed) 25% (2)
Final Exam 25% (3)
Class Participation 13% (4)
“Question Period” bonus 3% (5)
(1) Each student will do four in-class presentations (5%- individual presentation of 6
minutes (Jul 11); 8% - one group presentation of twenty minutes (Jul 18); 8% -
one group presentation of fifteen minutes (Aug 1); and 10% - a second individual
presentation of 6 minutes (Aug 15). Each presentation is to include written
versions of the presentation to be shared with all class members. Marks will be
split between the written and oral components ). Each student will have a role to
play in the 25 Jul “Standing Committee” meeting and will share the written
“analytical notes” they prepared for that meeting. Eight marks will be available
for each student based on their role play and analytical notes. A bonus will be
available for the Minister, Deputy Minister and Assistant Deputy Minister roles.
(2) Each student will submit, by 3 August, a term paper of about 2500 words on a
Regional Economic Development topic mutually agreed upon by the Instructor
and Student. The paper will be graded on research, logic, clarity, persuasiveness
and quality of presentation. (Note – we will discuss a possible option to the Term
Paper on 4 July)
(3) The final exam will be a “take home”. It will have two equal value parts: (1) a
mock Briefing Note from a Deputy Minister to a Minister attempting to convince
him/her to implement, or not to implement, a certain RED program; and, (2) a
small number of “essay questions” related to material covered in the course.
(4) Class attendance and participation are integral parts of learning for this course.
Attendance will be noted, as well as evidence of preparation for class and the
quality (not merely quantity) of contributions to class learning.
(5) Four classes will involve a substantive discussion of a specific question related to
RED. Students who offer and do lead a “Question Period” will be eligible for 3%
bonus marks. (There may be more than one “Question Period” leader, so this
bonus will be available to all students.)
It will be important for all students to attend the Jul 4 introductory session.
The introductory session aims to create a clear understanding of the intended pedagogy
for the course and explore the “contract” between students and the instructor. We will
review the class schedule and content and highlight particularly important aspects.
Students will be given the opportunity to discuss course content, including the Oral
Presentations and the Term Paper.
No government activity exists in a vacuum. Collaboration always is, or should be,
present. A short presentation and discussion on the characteristics of collaboration will
suggest a foundation from which RED (or any other undertaking) in Canada may be
Today’s approach to RED in Canada has emerged over time as the national and
international economies have matured and economic thought has evolved. The Jul 6 and
Jul 11 classes will establish the contexts - international and historic – for today’s RED
activity in Canada.
(Core readings: Comparative Perspectives on RED (2006);Fairburn;OECD)
(n.b. Decision makers will often ask policy makers if anybody else has tried the
recommended approach or if it has been done before in this country.)
RED is not unique to Canada. Most nations, regardless of their form of
government, pursue RED activities. Exposure to a variety of the goals and methods of
RED throughout the world will help to provide a comparative foundation for that which
takes place in Canada.
There are, and have been, many different economic theories which relate directly
to regional economic development. Several of these theories will be identified and
Student Presentations. Using the McNiven and Plumstead study (and any other
reference material easily available) each student will make a six minute oral presentation
on RED as practised in another country.
The evolution of Canadian federal economic development, 1930 to the present
(with emphasis on the last thirty years) will provide a context from which to explore the
present and give a more informed basis from which to consider options for the future.
Q. Why do so many countries pursue RED?
The “what” and “why” of RED are often the subjects of public/political debate. By
exploring the stated outcomes and theoretical basis of federal RED organizations,
students should be able to make reasonably informed conclusions about the “value for
money” of RED. The Jul 13, Jul 18 and Jul 20 classes will help to create the basis for
such conclusions and the Aug 1 class will provide a chance to debate various points of
(Core Readings: Government of Canada – Reports on Plans and Priorities; Performance
(n.b. - outcomes are the most compelling reason for doing anything in government.
Identification of desired outcomes, as well as measurement and reporting for actual
outcomes, should be at the core of all public policy.)
Publicly stated RED outcomes, as expressed in Speeches From the Throne,
Budgets and Performance Activity Architectures will be reviewed. The unstated utility
and results of RED can be a critical part of long term RED success. Thus, these
unofficial goals also need to be examined to meaningfully discuss any future role of
The Expenditure Management System is the means through which government
departments receive funds to conduct their business. A thorough understanding of this
system is required to maximize departmental outcomes – including those related to RED.
The focus will be on the federal system, which serves as a reasonable proxy all provincial
and most municipal governments.
Q. Is the existence of RED in Canada a sign that the free market economy is not
Student Presentations. Using public documents (principally from the Expenditure
Management System (Report on Plans and Priorities/ Departmental Performance Report)
small student groups will make a presentation on the contribution of each of the four
main federal RED players (Industry Canada, Western Economic Diversification, Canada
Economic Development for Quebec Regions and Atlantic Canada Opportunities
Agency), including group analysis of the theoretical underpinnings, empirical evidence
supporting outcomes and recommendations on what the Department should be doing in
the next Fiscal Year.
Student presentations continued.
Preparations for standing committee.
Q. Is RED more an economic, social or political undertaking?
This class will be in the form of a Standing Committee on Industry meeting on
Main Estimates. The Committee agenda will be a review of RDA Main Estimates
submissions, with students playing alternately the roles of Committee Members and
proponents (Minister/Deputy Minister/Assistant Deputy Minister).
Given that economic development is a shared federal/provincial responsibility, the
capacity of provinces to promote RED and their economic circumstances drive very
different approaches. The need for RED which is complementary to that of other orders
of government – or at the very least not counter productive – is vital. Each province has
its own approach to RED. An understanding of what can be done and is being done by
provinces will be developed by examining several provincial models. This class will also
look at the potential for overlap, duplication or incongruity, as well as mechanisms for
creating policy and program coherence among the various players in RED.
The aug 1 and Aug 3 classes explore the provincial approaches, on their own and within
the context of the federal efforts.
(Core Readings: Savoie(2); Provincial web-based “Prosperity Plans” )
(n.b. – having more players on the field is only useful if their actions are mutually
Provincial approaches to RED. Four student groups will each give a twenty
minute presentation on a provincial approach to RED. The presentations will be graded
using the following criteria: structure; overall content; relation to ED theories; relation to
federal efforts; recommendations for improvement; conclusion(s); supporting materials
(written and during the presentation) and the overall quality and impact of the
Core Readings: provincial web sites on economic development)
Q. Should the provinces and federal governments combine their RED activities?
Adjustment Activities. Notwithstanding the multiplicity of RED efforts, there are
invariably many communities which will suffer a significant economic shock which will
give rise to attempts at specific structural adjustment of the local economy. We will
explore several factors related to adjustment efforts – both successful and unsuccessful.
Public Administration Governance. During this class we will focus on the Class
Project and have a discussion on the recommendations emanating from the Gomery
Commission. The potential implications of some of the Commission recommendations
are particularly relevant to RED, given the high level of public and political interest in
RED. We will pay particular attention to Recommendations 4 and 16 (which will, in turn,
send us towards Recommendation 5.)
The ultimate impact of all economic development activity is local and all municipal units
believe they are practicing local economic development. The Aug 8 and 10 classes will
explore RED from a “community” perspective.
(Core Readings: selected short items from CBDC, RDA/RED Board websites; ACOA:
Aboriginal Economic Development)
(n.b. – from a citizen’s point of view, all economies are local and all societies are local.)
Community Approach to RED. Although limited by financial potential and
legislative authority, all communities undertake economic development. This class will
explore various types of regional economic development organizations in a range of
urban and rural communities. A Guest Speaker (Director Community Development and
Rural Initiatives, ACOA NS) will outline the Federal Government involvement in CED.al
Q. Who should run local, community RED – politicians, officials or volunteers?
A panel of three guest speakers from the NS Provincial Government, the Regional
Development Associations and Community Business Development Corporations will
speak, debate and respond to student questions. (The Class will influence the theme
which will guide panelist presentations.)
Each student will give a short presentation on a Canadian RED success story. Each
presentation will focus on the economic circumstances in the community, the activities
undertaken (including their theoretical underpinnings), the outcomes achieved and the
critical success factors.
Aboriginal Economic Development . A guest lecturer (Senior Assistant Deputy
Minister, Socio-economic Policy and Regional Operation, Indian and Northern Affairs
Canada) will discuss some of the unique challenges and activities associated with RED
in this segment of the population.
Readings will include the following items. The instructor will provide access to all
readings. From time to time, the instructor may add readings which are relevant to issues
that emerge throughout the course. These additional readings will not add more than
approximately 10% to the list.
McNiven and Plumstead: Comparative Perspectives on Regional Development; March
PUAD 6540 Winter 2006 ACOA Study: Comparative Perspectives on Regional
Bradfield: Regional Economics: Analyses and Policies in Canada; 2004 pp23-63 and pp
Fairburn: A Preliminary History of Rural Development Policy and Programmes in
OECD: Territorial Reviews – Canada. Chap 2 pp 73-129.
Gov’t of Canada: Report on Plans and Priorities FY2005-06; Western Economic
Deversification , Industry Canada, Canada Economic Development (Quebec Regions)
and Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency.
Gov’t of Canada: Departmental Performance Reports FY 2004-05;WED,IC,CED(Q) and
Gov’t of Canada: Performance Activity Architectures (WED, CED(Q) and ACOA).
(These are not published documents. They are short, summary documents which link
individual departmental activities to predetermined and approved departmental
Savoie:Community Economic Development in Atlantic Canada: False Hope or Panacea?.
2000 (Sections I and III).
Savoie: Regional Development: Reviewing the Options; 2003;pp20-30.
The Perils of Being a Poor Region in a Rich and Frightened Country; AIMS commentary;
Provincial web sites for economic development. Each province has a site, with varying
degrees of detail, but each has at least a rudimentary “prosperity plan”.\
ACOA: Aboriginal Economic Development in Atlantic Canada (Lessons Learned and
Best Practices; 2003.
Ruggeri and Yang: Convergence in a Small Open Economy;2001.
Other topical articles (not texts) as the course evolves.