What’s the big deal?

Yesterday, the Federal government announced that it would be giving $115 million to Bell Helicopter Textron Canada Limited to support an economic development project in Montreal.

I don’t know that I have much to say about this except that it underscores the continuing reality facing Atlantic Canada. The stronger provinces and economies such as Montreal get all the new, high end jobs paid for in large part by government incentives. Atlantic Canada gets more seasonal Employment Insurance support (and I heard a rumour there will be more in the budget today).

When are the politicians going to figure this out. We need the $115 million job creation projects in Atlantic Canada, too. When was the last time any level of government invested this amount of money in a private sector job creation project in New Brunswick? I’ll answer that for you – never. But if you’re in aerospace in Montreal or automobiles in Ontario, this level of government incentive is a common event.

I would ask them (the politicians) to just try it out. If they spend the next ten years supporting these level projects in Atlantic Canada, let’s see if it doesn’t transform the economy, reduce our dependence on seasonal EI and on Equalization.

An acquaintance of mine that understands the mindset of government told me it would be a cold day in hell before the Federal government would put that kind of money into an Atlantic Canadian project. You see, he said, there are just not enough votes down here. He did say, however; that if a provincial government brought them a billion dollar, 2,000 job project and asked for $100 million, it would be somewhat hard for them to turn it down. The optics of outright saying ‘no’ to Atlantic Canada while saying ‘yes’ to Quebec and Ontario wouldn’t be good.

The message here is simple – provincial government go out and find these projects and then drag the feds along kicking and screaming.

Stop fiddling around with small businesses and ‘innovation’. Ontario’s growth over the 1990s was driven by the auto sector – large, multinational companies.

Go out and get some for New Brunswick.

We would appreciate it.

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