‘The’ issues in Saint John Habour election

I know I have covered this before but I think it’s worth repeating. Saint John has lost 2,000 people (population decline) since 1999, many of its traditional industries are tanking and the economic future of the city is in jeopardy but the main election issues in Monday’s by-election according to the esteemed Telegraph Journal are:
*Affordable Housing
*Child care
*Senior care
*Harbour cleanup

$1.43 billion in Equalization next year and the ‘issues’ are all about more spending. Tories, Libs, NDP – it doesn’t matter – the whole election is about who will turn up the spending tap.

We keep spending other people’s money like it’s going out of style. I told you in a previous blog that government spending in New Brunswick is up almost 40% since 1999 – almost the level of increase in Alberta which has had a population increase of over 14%.

Shame on the Telegraph Journal for not at least trying to make the economy one small issue in this by-election (if the parties won’t). I find it incredible that the Irvings don’t seem to care about Saint John’s collapse (if the editorial style of the newspaper is any guide). Note to Irving (collective): 50 jobs in an LNG plant ain’t gonna save Saint John.

I know I’ll get comments that politicians campaign on what ‘matters’ to voters – but somebody has to educate the public as to what ‘really’ matters. How much money will be left for affordable housing, child care, senior care and the harbour cleanup if there is another recession in Canada? After the last recession New Brunswick was hit very hard (the high level of out-migration and the beginning of population decline started post the 1991 recession) and now we are much more compromised (in terms of our dependency on Equalization).

I would have hoped that one party (or the independant) would care about Saint John’s economic future.

Maybe not.

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0 Responses to ‘The’ issues in Saint John Habour election

  1. Anonymous says:

    Have you BEEN to Saint John Harbour? I dare you to walk door to door and ‘educate’ the people there that economic development should be their main priority-I guarantee you won’t get out alive!

    The reason it isn’t an issue there is that it is so poor no party in their right mind would talk economic development in that riding because there’s no way any INDUSTRY is even going to look at setting up there. And saying ‘it’s good for the province’ is like throwing salt in the wounds.

  2. David Campbell says:

    Anonymous, you have just summarized the essence of why I write this blog and why this stuff had preoccupied my thinking for much of the last 15 years.

    It’s a pitiful state of things when we have come to the point where throwing a few more dollars at child care or seniors housing or cleaning the poo out of the harbour is what people want while doing nothing to redress the decades of economic decline will get you ‘killed’ – at least in political terms.

    What Saint John Harbour and Saint John in total needs, in my humble opinion, is economic development. I’m not talking about what’s ‘good for the province’. I talking about what’s good for Saint John Harbour.

    Fast forward 20 years. If you have invested scarce resources into these vote buying gimics what have you done for Saint John? If you had invested in jobs and infrastructure that supports job creation you can set the table for a better future.

    All this short term thinking is why we are in the trouble we are in. Looking at Saint John’s development in five year or less increments is why we have the challenges we have.

    I put this to you. What types of investments will put Saint John back on the road to economic strength? To being a community where people move to and not from? To being one of the strongest economies in Canada as it was at the turn of the last century? If you truly believe that a few more dollars into child care, senior care or the poo in the harbour is the answer, then you and I must agree to disagree.

  3. scott says:

    Saint John and Saint John Harbour do need more economic development, but addressing certain monopolies within the province should be an important priority for both the business sector and the government.

    You said:

    Shame on the Telegraph Journal for not at least trying to make the economy one small issue in this by-election…

    and

    I find it incredible that the Irvings don’t seem to care about Saint John’s collapse (if the editorial style of the newspaper is any guide). Note to Irving (collective): 50 jobs in an LNG plant ain’t gonna save Saint John.

    You hit the nail right on the head here David. In order for NB to grow all facets of their economy, we must first invest in a wide variety of industries in order to spurn on a healthy and competitive business environment. We can not accomplish this if we have a provincial economic environment that is friendly to monopolies. It doesn’t make good economic sense. Not for Irving and not for NB.

  4. vivenewbrunswick says:

    No need to disagree, obviously poor people need JOBS. How do you get jobs for people who for the most part are functionally illiterate and dirt poor. As your blog attests, it’s hard enough to get a company to NB in the first place and when it does come it’s going to employ one of the 10% unemployed who actually has a university degree and some work experience-not somebody who has been on welfare for ten years and a bad back-and is forty years old.

    What is needed is MASSIVE investment in training and child care, but that ain’t gonna happen-it hasn’t happened in northern New Brunswick in thirty years.

    However, during an election when you’re dirt poor and been on welfare for ten years you’d quite rightly be suspicious if a politician comes announcing new jobs for everybody. The government can’t do that, it can tell the people that ‘economic development is a priority’ which in St.John people know full well what that means as the above comment suggests. I’ve heard that the LNG terminal will only employ 8-20 people long term and some will be from the Spanish partner.

    Poor people have FAR different priorities than middle class earners-namely survival. It’s hard to get excited about economic development in the only province in Canada where roomers of boarding houses are explicitly denied coverage by the Residential Tenants Act (one of the big issues of the campaign) and living off $260 a month. When you’ve got no rights and can be evicted at any time, news of a new corporation setting up in town is going to be small comfort-unless government is guaranteeing you a job there (which it ain’t)

  5. David Campbell says:

    Vive,

    I appreciate you keeping this forum cognizant of the deeper social issues. I don’t disagree with much/most of your thinking on this.