Dr. Edward MacDonald

Title: Designing Change: A Semicentennial Review of the Comprehensive Development Plan on Prince Edward Island

Abstract: Two national trends converged in Prince Edward Island in 1969: a state-driven campaign to address regional disparity and a hubristic, postwar confidence in state-directed regional development planning. The 15-year Comprehensive Development Plan, the first of its kind in Canada at a province-wide level, partnered the federal and provincial governments in creating an ambitious blueprint for fundamental economic and social change meant to elevate the province from disparity and dependence to prosperity and self-reliance. This address offers an overview of the genesis of, and motivation behind, the $725 million dollar economic development agreement, and traces how its interlocking suite of programs fared amid political bickering and grassroots opposition to what critics perceived as too much change too quickly. It also offers some reflections on the nature of change, the limits of state intervention, and the enduring legacy of “The Plan.”

Bio: Edward MacDonald is the preeminent scholar of Prince Edward Island history, and he is also an excellent environmental historian with extensive research on fisheries, tourism, and landscapes in the greater Gulf of Saint Lawrence. MacDonald is well known in the local heritage communities, and it we expect that his keynote on PEI postwar history and the semicentennial of the PEI Comprehensive Development Plan will attract a large local audience