Visiting Grandchildren: Economic Development in the Maritimes.


415 pages
Contains Bibliography, Index
ISBN 978-0-8020-9382-5
DDC 338.9715




Reviewed by Richard Wilbur

Randall White is the author of Voice of Region: On the Long Journey to
Senate Reform in Canada, Too Good to Be True: Toronto in the 1920s, and
Global Spin: Probing the Globalization Debate.


Donald Savoie is the author of a numerous works on the complex issue of regional disparity. This new effort is both a short history of the Maritimes’ economic relationship with Ottawa since Confederation and a review of the many efforts by the federal and provincial governments to address what seems to be an unsolvable problem.


Throughout, Savoie has kept his intellectual independence, a point reflected in this introductory comment: “I love everything about Canada, except its constitutional marital arrangement. I believe firmly that something is not right with the way our national political institutions operate.” The book’s title comes from Stephen Harper’s 2004 comment expressing his hope that “some day when this province gets its fair share from Confederation … New Brunswick will be less a place where you visit your grandparents, and more a place where you visit your grandchildren.”


The earlier chapters contain a brief history of the Maritime governments’ efforts to gain a place in Confederation, an outline of the various economic theories dealing with regional disparity, and the details of attempts to conquer the problem from the 1960s to the 1980s—attempts familiarly known by their acronyms, DREE, ARDA, and ACOA.


Considering the key role he played in its birth, Savoie sees merits in ACOA, but thinks it can never solve the Maritimes’ underperforming role in the Canadian economy. The biggest obstacle is the fact that those making the important national decisions are all based in Ottawa and interpret “national” as southern Ontario and southern Quebec.


In his final chapter Savoie has no answers beyond yet another attempt at closer Maritime cooperation while working with Ottawa “to develop a made-in-the Maritimes human-resources policy.” The region should improve its networking abilities by continuing to look south toward New England. “Political boundaries have lost a great deal of their previous economic significance and a market economy and a strong business climate are the best way for the region to thrive in a competitive global economy.” Sound advice from our best regional expert.


Savoie, Donald J., “Visiting Grandchildren: Economic Development in the Maritimes.,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed July 24, 2024,