Insights Atlantic Premiers series: PEI's Dennis King
Interviewing the Atlantic Premiers was a real treat for Don and I (Premier Furey is outstanding at the time of this writing).
Someone asked me why we threw so many softballs at Premier King. I think that is unfair although I would say we certainly were not playing ‘gotcha’ with the Premiers. Our goal was to ask them what they are doing to strengthen their economy, grow the population and address some of the big other challenges such as health care and education.
I hadn’t met Premier King before and I was impressed. He has an ambitious agenda for the province, wants to continue the positive trends in immigration and the growth of key sectors such as biosciences. And, he has very ambitious plans for the cleantech sector - seeing it as as potentially another biosciences. We recommended he clone Rory Francis, if the technology allows.
You will see that ambition is a consistent theme across the Atlantic Premiers. They have a vision of where the provinces should go and what seem to be pretty good ideas on how to get there.
There also seems to be a desire for greater Atlantic cooperation which is good as the region shares many common challenges. Strengthening regional economic integration doesn’t dilute the character and culture of the four provinces - it is just a recognition that for many things we are better together.
I still can’t get the words of one senior bureaucrat out of my head from 2015 saying we are just going to have to get used to 0.5% economic growth. When I pushed he said immigrants won’t stay here. Natural resources will wane and we will be left with primarily a local services focused economy even more reliant on federal transfers.
Premier King has a different idea in mind. PEI has been among the fastest growing provinces by population growth. Depending on the timeframe, they are either first or second in the growth of the value of exports. Yes, they have struggled to retain some of their immigrants but enough have stayed to add 8% to the population between 2016-2021 - the most added to the provincial population in a Census period ever.
I hope you enjoy the conversation.
You can listen to the podcast here at Huddle: https://huddle.today/2022/03/18/podcast-p-e-i-premier-dennis-king-is-a-refreshingly-different-kind-of-politician/
Or you download it wherever you get your podcasts, Spotify, Apple Podcasts, etc. Just search for Insights Don Mills.