Fun with the hansard

Reading the hansard from the New Brunswick legislature question period is a bit like grinding teeth. The posers of questions don’t expect answers and they don’t get them. Then they re-ask the question in another way and they still don’t get the answers.

Anyway, someone sent today’s hansard because there was a question about the economy. Actually, several good ones.

And of course no real answers. Just more rhetoric.

But I am really stumped as to why the government continues to pound away the export figures. I really am. Captain Kirk ‘MacDonald’ invoked the wonderful success of New Brunswick exports a half dozen times each with more intensity. Check out these excerpts:

Hon. Mr. MacDonald: Muzzle the dogs, Mr. Speaker.
I think it is important to note that last year our exports in this province grew by 13%. That is an increase of $1.2 billion last year alone. That is more than the growth of all the . . .

Hon. Mr. MacDonald: The Leader of the Opposition seems to have a problem with the definition of certain words. Perhaps if we could respectfully instruct one of the pages to get him a dictionary, he would find that it is not rhetoric, but rather it is fact. It is fact that our economy, our exports, last year alone grew by $1.2 billion. That is an increase larger than the growth rate of all the other exports in Atlantic Canada combined. You do not have to take my word for it. Go to StatsCan. That is where you are going to find that fact.

Hon. Mr. MacDonald: I would like to think that the member opposite has looked a bit into what comprises the New Brunswick economy. If he has done so, he will realize that a full three-quarters of everything that this province produces is exported outside of this jurisdiction, either to another Canadian jurisdiction or into the United States. In fact, a full 90% of everything we export goes to the U.S., 60% of that to New England alone. That is why we have been developing opportunities in those sectors, in those communities, for New Brunswickers. Despite what the member opposite says, the New Brunswick economy is growing. The proof is with Statistics Canada: There was a $1.2-billion increase last year alone. That represents 13%. For the first time ever, our exports have exceeded $10 billion—$10 billion with a “b”. The New Brunswick economy is growing.

Now, the problem with Captain Kirk is that a few of us actually went to Statistics Canada as he recommends and we actually looked at the export numbers.

And found serious trouble as reported here on several occassions.

Taking out the Irving Refinery (which creates how many full time jobs? 100?), exports are down and down significantly. Down in the majority of our most important industry sectors:

Five year trend:
Aquaculture exports – down 27%
Seafood production – down 2%
Sawmills – down 17%
Pulp & Paper – down 39%
Structural metal – down 30%
Kitchen cabinets – down 39%

This is serious. These industries are employment intensive. There have been almost 8,000 jobs lost in manufacturing and the Captain Kirk wants to brag about the Irving Refinery exports. $800 million decline in non-petroleum exports in the past year (that’s an “m”).

Maybe the Minister would like to stand on his tripod to get a better view of the economy.

Ouch, that was nasty.

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0 Responses to Fun with the hansard

  1. David Campbell says:

    Tripod jokes aside, I think there is a lesson here.

    You see, as difficult as it may seem to believe, I don’t actually blame the PCs for the 35% rise in the value of the Canadian dollar. I know it is hard to believe, but I don’t blame the Premier for 9’11. I don’t even blame the Tories for the rise of China and India not to mention the global forestry sector challenges.

    Yet, Lord and his Tripods all feel it necessary to talk in glowing terms about the NB economy. $10 billion in exports! Record jobs! Record low unemployment! Even though that rings completely hollow to anyone who can read a Statistics Canada report and, I would dare say, hollow to anyone who lives in the vast majority of the province whose towns are in decline.

    Back to my previous blogs about truth in politics. If I had been Captain Kirk today in the Legislature, this is how I would have responded to Shawn Graham:

    Thanks to the honourable Leader of the Opposition for that question. It is true that when we devised the Prosperity Plan, we couldn’t have foreseen the rapid rise in the Canadian dollar which has crippled so many of our export-oriented industries. We had no way of knowing the wide ranging implications of the aftermath of 9’11. So, in light of these challenges, we will not be able to hit many of the targets in the PP. However, we are working diligently to address these serious challenges. We have a $250 million program for the forestry sector. We have found a new operator for the mill in Nackawic and we are supporting the growth of the call center sector in rural communities across the province.

    Now, I’m not a speech writer but it would seem that honest and humble talk would blow through the Legislature like a refreshing wind.

    However, questions about the lack of R&D and the increasing rate of poverty are harder to blame on George Bush. So, the Tories are own their own – no help from this corner.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Nor does the fact that the spending they are making is actually hurting the industries they are meant to help.

  3. Anonymous says:

    “Irving Oil now represents 64% of Canada’s petroleum product exports to the US, 19% of all US gasoline imports, and 55% of New Brunswick’s foreign exports.”

    But to correct your employment figures, according to Yahoo Finance:

    “After several “debottlenecking” projects, the refinery runs approximately 280,000 barrels per day and employs over 1,500 people.
    Each year approximately 2,000 people are hired to work on-site at the refinery on major projects and maintenance turnarounds.”

    And they say I”m “anti-Irving”: where were those Irving lovers when that ‘100 employees’ was thrown out!:) For shame!

  4. Anonymous says:

    Here’s a fun experiment. From the previous article I posted, they say Irving pumps out 280,000 barrels of refined oil.

    OK, this isn’t exact, so I’ll err on the side of caution.

    Crude oil sells at $40 a barrel. There are 159 litres in a barrel. It sells for about a buck a litre, however, part of that is tax, you can’t believe what they say, so we’ll say one quarter is tax.

    Obviously there isn’t as much volume in refined oil as there is in crude oil, however, I’m guessing there’s a market for what’s left over or else there’s a huge sea of sludge floating somewhere around Saint John.

    Anyway, once the math is done, and I urge anybody else to join in, I get approximately $22 million dollars A DAY! That’s how much these guys are bringing in. That’s eight BILLION a year!

    Anybody actually think none of that 2 billion upgrade came from government? Anybody think KC built a refinery in 1960 with his dad’s gas station money?

    And these guys are right now in court suing the government claiming that their storage tanks actually stir the oil so are really manufacturing and therefore shouldn’t be taxed-and that the government should reimburse them the taxes paid.

    In any third world country these guys heads would be at the end of a pike!