Tempest in a teapot

I think I’ll just shut down this blog and divert all traffic to Alec Bruce’s Atlantic Canada First blog. He is nice enough to post his Times & Transcript article from January 3 in its totality.

Less talk, more action on economic development
Times & Transcript Down To Business
As published on page C2 on January 3, 2006

http://atlantic-first.localintheknow.com/2006/01/less-talk-more-action-on-economic.asp

I don’t have much to comment on this except he nails it once again. I was in the Miramichi last weekend and beyond the measly government investments over there (older ones the hospital, bridge), I can’t find a single large new private sector project. Oh, to be sure, some of the local retailers have freshened up their buildings and a Wal-Mart even opened up. But I was specifically looking for new non-local services business. And I couldn’t find any. My relatives living there have resigned themselves to the fact that the community is going down.

This should not be the case.

The Quebec government spends $50 million to attract French software company Ubisoft to that province. They then promptly put on job fairs in the Miramichi to attract graduates from the great animation program at the community college to move to Quebec to work.

That, my friends, ain’t right. Somebody should have attracted Ubisoft to the Miramichi. A brand new, 25,000 square foot animation studio in downtown Miramichi would breathe more life into that community that every other nickel they’ve put into health care and other social services.

If they had just taken $10 from every EI cheque issued in the Miramichi over the past 20 years, they would have had more than enough to attract Ubisoft to that pathetic place (my roots run deep there so I say that with a heavy heart).

We can’t keep being the labour market incubator for the rest of Canada. Sooner or later we will have to attract that caliber of company here.

Bravo, Bruce. Keep on preachin’ until Al Hogan shuts you down and at that you can keep up the blog.

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0 Responses to Tempest in a teapot

  1. Anonymous says:

    Hey, don’t you shut down, you’re the only guy here that now doesn’t delete submissions to his blog. I know you did at first, but they still haven’t caught on that discussion has more than one view.

  2. Anonymous says:

    That’s really weird, just the other day I was playing a ubisoft game and noticed, ‘hey, these guys are in Canada’. Sudbury also snagged ‘Chilly Beach’, animation is another great paying gig with the CBC. They are difficult folks to deal with, but can be cracked. I wonder if there is a way to set up a co-op of workers who could lobby a company, THEN get the government involved (since they seem incapable). I would like to add one more kick in the head, and that’s Quebec contractors being allowed to bid and work here but no NB firms or workers being allowed in the great PQ! It’s time to fight fire with fire, the entertainment/knowledge industries are where the jobs are, not beer and wood.

  3. Atlantic Canada First says:

    Campbell — I agree with ‘anonymous’. Don’t you dare think of shutting down your blog (as if you would, my friend).

    Your articulate, informed spitfire on all things economic keeps this corner of the blogoshpere honest and relevant.

    AB

  4. Mike says:

    Your public & Peers have spoken, I think, David.

    It would be a shame to see you deligated to the meer form of Blog Martyrdome.

    And towards “anonymous” (the second one) Quebec Contracters as you say, are not “bidding and working” here, they are contributing to the “brain drain” in this province. Its in the same light as the Nova Scotians comming in and gobbling up all of the nursing people who venture forth from thier secondary education in NB.

  5. David Campbell says:

    Ok, folks let’s be honest here. This blog has a few hundred occasional readers. Guys and gals with good insight. But I fundamentally think we need a broad, groundswell of change driven by the people in New Brunswick. We need Miramichiers to demand more. We need Saint Johners to demand more. We need Monctonians to ask if there is so much growth here why are there no cranes on the city’s skyline? We need to tell our politicians and community leaders that we want them to take the economy seriously. To allocate a significant amount of time, effort and financial resources to the task of rebuilding our economy around new and growing industries not just trying to hang on for dear life to the industries of the past.

    And that vision will not gain traction in a blog. That’s why guys like Alec Bruce and Jacques Poitras are so critical. They have the public’s eye/ear. They reach tens of thousands of people with their message.

    So I’ll keep blogging. I’ll try and put up relevant and thought-provoking ideas. But I’m way more interested in taking this discussion to the people – the body politic, the Joe Q Publics that need to step outside our little preoccupations and look at the big picture.

    I don’t necessarily blame Peter Mesheau or even Premier Lord for the lack of real economic development in New Brunswick. There has never been any real impetus demanding they act. They read the polls. They talk with constiuents. They know that health care and other issues dominate the landscape. And when it comes to economic development, they know there is much more political capital in giving some small business a tax break or some other incentive than to attract large industries. Or at least that’s their hunch.

    I think they would be in for a surprise if they pulled a ‘Nackawic’ and attracted large corporate projects into cities and towns across the province.

    And don’t tell me it can’t be done. It’s been done – in hundreds if not thousands of communities around the world.

    Keep up the discussion.

  6. scott says:

    David,

    I hope that you didn’t take this comment as an insult, “it is not an election issue because you allowed it not to be one”.

    Because it wasn’t meant to be one. On the contrary, I believe that many bloggers and journalist alike who visit your site are capable of making major changes to this province, especially given they all have great ideas. I just think now that the tide has come in and is ready to take you out to sea. And, as you know, the tide only comes in once in a man’s(person’s) life, so it is impotant that they seize the opportunity when it arises.

    I guess I see you as somebody who is starting a fantastic forum for change, but also as someone with an incredible vision for this province and the economic acumen to do something about it.

    I’ll leave you with this quote by Edmund Burke(sorry for the overuse of conservative philosophers):

    “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.”

    I think you know what ‘evil’ I’m talking about…and it isn’t in the form of a leader.

  7. David Campbell says:

    Well, for 12 years I stood on a ‘soap box’ and preached the same stuff you read in this blog only to a small group of mostly already converted folks. This blog opens the discussion to a wider audience and Alec Bruce and others take it to the masses.

    When the majority of New Brunswickers realize that the economic destiny of our communities lies in our own hands, I will be happy. Politicians have a very important role to play at the federal, provincial and local level but they will always react to what they think are the priorities of the people.

    And for some bizarre reason, the future of our communities does not seem to be a priority.

    The mayors of northern New Brunswick are banding together to save ‘health care’ in the north. This is symptomatic of the larger cultural issue of lack of belief. Lack of belief that we can fix these regional economies. Lack of belief that we can make things better.

    Who would want to set up a business in Tracadie? they say.

    Well, I say, make a compelling case for Tracadie and they will come.

    It’s the community and it’s leaders’ job to make that compelling case.

  8. Anonymous says:

    That’s rubbish and you know it, in fact you’ve SAID it. It went something like, ‘unless it is a metropolitan area of a certain size companies won’t even LOOK at it’.

    What on earth could the ‘community leaders’ of Tracadie possibly offer a huge enough company to make a difference in statistics?

    There are 4700 mostly french speaking people in Tracadie, with 25% of the population at the ‘earnings age’. The town is 24 square kilometres, and 20% of the population has less than a high school education. Only half have earnings which means half are going to be against any radical use of property tax dollars for economic development use.

    Any land use that will fall outside its borders will involve the province, as will any resource industry, and with only 24 sq.km not a lot of resource industries will have any use there. For the ‘knowledge based industries’, only 22% have a university degree, and its a good bet those are the ones employed.

    So I REALLY disagree that Lord is not at fault. He KNOWS the statistics, knows what is going on, knows history so knows what McKenna was doing, knows HOW to sell. It’s HIS choice that has him travelling the country talking to reporters instead of company execs., his choice that had his administration not even trying with companies like RIM (and how many OTHER RIM’s are out there right now?)

    The buck DEFINITELY stops with him. It really tells you something about the world that he was ‘open for business’ on Lepreau, and here was an energy opportunity which was backed by the government, which means there’s no way a company could lose money and there STILL were no takers.

  9. The Virginian says:

    David I agree with you that the problem is not necessarely with Lord. We have not done well as a province for longer than Lord has been in power. It’s a structural problem that is two fold:
    1- Human resources: I have had desalings with employees of Entreprise NB and/or predecessors, all civil servant not entrepreneurial types, no vision. Only interested in seeing the world not bringing the world to us.
    2-Lack of infrastructure: great if you’re in South East and going to US or Quebec (not quite there yet). But if you want to go to Miramichi and other points North, who the hell is going to go to these places with the current poor roads.
    Solutions:
    1-Contract out economic development (guns for hire).
    2-Infrastructure: lay out a clear capital plan from Greater Moncton going North, first to Buctouche/Richibucto than to Miramichi and onto the Acadian Peninsula,with target dates and a clear vision tying the infrastucture development to economic development.
    How can we get any of the current political provincial leaders to lay-out a simple clear vision, instead of themes and words without foundation.
    We have very little options right now in NB from a political perspective. Sad state of affairs.

  10. David Campbell says:

    Well, there are no ‘easy’ answers. But I believe that there must be some way to position Tracadie for some business investment opportunities. If not, don’t we have an obligation to help the community build a capacity? Why do we have a world class animation diploma program at the NBCC in Miramichi? Can’t that be leveraged to attract a business that needs that skillset? If we just throw up our hands and say that Tracadie is doomed without every really trying to attract industry, what’s that say about us as a society?

    I refuse to believe that Tracadie is doomed. There is a reason why historically that community was established and grew. If we can’t replicate the same growth drivers, we need to find new ones. And I think that is at least as important as ‘health care’.

  11. Anonymous says:

    Nobody said Tracadie was doomed, the reply was to the point that ‘if community leaders position themselves for investment it will come’. That’s not true,as you’ve now said. You NEED to get other levels of government involved, and other levels of government appear to have no interest. What makes it harder is that every innovation which may come up, faces the “what if EVERY community asks for this?” problem, even if they are inventive and take it to Fredericton.

    Those are good points that were mentioned above-a REAL laid out plan-although quite reasonably those in the north will say “why don’t you start it in Campbellton and Edmunstun and work DOWN”. As far as places north go, Moncton already HAS enough opportunities.

    That’s why I’d encourage people with such ideas to JOIN A PARTY and/or actually lobby for it. Such ideas are wonderful, but those who do it for a living can quite reasonably say ‘easy for you to say when you aren’t involved’.

    If an economic development plan is required, we’ve almost a full force of economic developers linked at this website-why not form a lobby group? Why not band together and publish a monthy newsmagazine with the REAL stories? If Tracadie is not doomed, why not do a case study and present it to them? Find out what companies may be interested, find out costs, etc., and put it on a website and advertise it.

    Bitching at government only goes so far-especially if you are on the outside looking in. Finally, I’d just like to say that the recommendations presented before where the leader does the selling doesn’t wash when the leader isn’t selling. I”m surprised at this recent change of tactic where everything was Lord’s fault, now suddenly its ‘the system’.

    It isn’t civil servants who can visit with Bill Gates and ask him to come here, or any other CEO, that’s Bernard Lord. If companies will only look at certain metropolitan areas, then it goes without saying that they aren’t going to meet with some government hack-not in today’s world. Paul Martin sold southern ontario to Toyota, how about asking candidates in your riding what business connections THEY have and how they will bring them home to roost.

  12. David Campbell says:

    I”m surprised at this recent change of tactic where everything was Lord’s fault, now suddenly its ‘the system’.

    This has never been an anti-Lord blog. Sure, I criticize a lot of things that he is doing particularly related to economic development but I do believe the issue is much larger than a single politician.

    Bernard Lord has done very little to attract investment to New Brunswick. Sure. That doesn’t take a rocket scientist. He’s cut economic development funding. He criticized McKenna’s ‘call centre’ strategy and then relied on those same call centres for something like 70% of the ‘jobs’ that his government has gotten involved in creating. He has not articulated a coherent plan for attracting new industries to New Brunswick.

    That all remains true and I will not shy away from my position.

    But.

    I am now more convinced than ever that politicians (some more than others) develop policy by what they read in the editorial page or by what they hear from their ‘advisors’ or a few local constituents. Want a med school, Saint John? Just write stories about it for 20 days straight in the Telegraph-Journal and presto, we’ll consider it. What a nuclear plant? Presto.

    So, all I am saying here is that if the newspapers and ‘constituents’ were demanding it, I think we would get it.

  13. Anonymous says:

    That’s very interesting, don’t get me wrong because that’s ALWAYS been my line of thinking and it’s good to see you and others coming around.

    There is essentially only ONE more step in following that logic and I’ll leave you to muddle on it:

    First, let’s dispose of the ridiculous part of the phrase which is that ‘constituents’ somehow make a contribution to any of this. I could call my local MLA for weeks at at a time and ask for a university or something, that ain’t going to make it happen. In fact northern NB has been BEGGING for just about any crumbs for basically, well, ever and they get squat. In Bathurst every paper and person was telling Lord to get to work to save their mine like he did in Nackawic, to no avail-and no surprise. It took Saint John over ten years to get a piece of UNB centred in the city. Tim Smith had hunger strikes for them to simply ‘limit the hours of operation’ of VLT’s to no avail, and Charles had 10,000 signatures on his petition to get the government to just do a study on ritalin use in schools.

    So finally:
    Who OWNS ALL the newspapers and so controls the issues those politicians read about? (and do you honestly think lobbying extends only so far as to ‘submitting ideas’ for politicians to think about?

    In other words, who REALLY controls the economic development agenda in New Brunswick? Not a pleasant thought is it?