I have been watching Miramichi Mayor John McKay and his campaign to save the 200 gun registry jobs in his city.
It’s been pretty amazing for a small town mayor. He has gotten national press (I just heard him on CBC’s The House and last week on CTV). He has organized meetings with politicians. He has been to Ottawa. It is almost as if he hired a PR/GR consultant and is executing a perfectly designed plan under which if the politicians take the jobs out of the Miramichi, there will be as much politicial collateral damage as the loss of the jobs themselves.
But I can’t help thinking why is it we are at our best when our backs are against the wall? Why will governments pony up $65 million to save a dying mill? Why will unions take massive consessions to save a mill? Why will Mayors and community leaders fight tooth and nail to save jobs? In the Miramichi, the Gun Registry jobs are the talk of the town. It’s the #1 issue right now.
Why can’t we show that passion when we are trying to attract new jobs and grow new industries? Instead of always being in reactive mode, why not get out front of the issue? How about the mayor executing a perfect PR/GR plan about attracting new jobs? What about the unions agreeing in advance to taking 20% less than if the plant was in Toronto? What about the government ponying up serious dough to grow new industries not old ones?
Imagine if the CBC ran a program on The House about Mayor McKay’s attempts to attract new jobs – not just retain the government jobs? Imagine if CTV ran a story titled “Enough is enough: the Miramichi determined to stop depopulation and stop it now”?
I just feel we are expending our best effort, resources and money trying to frantically hold on to what we have with no thought to the future. The mill in Miramichi will close. Next year or in five, that mill will close. Instead of doing everything in our power to save a dying plant, we should expend our best efforts to attract the next round of economic activity that will gird places like the Miramichi for another generation.