Waking the giants

It’s safe to say there is a love-hate relationship between many New Brunswickers and the Irving/McCain duo.

It would be hard to calculate the total economic impact of the two because their empires stretch into dozens of companies and investments in other companies but suffice it to say that these two dynasties employ at least 10 to 15% of the entire workforce in New Brunswick.

Then there’s the other lesser titans – Imbeault, Ganong, Armour, Caissie, etc. many of whom formed the NB Business Council earlier this year.

So I suspect the politicians are watching closely as these titans start to get more vocal about the state of the New Brunswick Business Council. The Irving in charge of Irving Oil spoke at Atlantica and made some interesting comments about the state of New Brunswick – and none to flattering.

The New Brunswick Business Council was formed directly out of the concern of its members of the decline of the New Brunswick economy. While the NBBC is highly politically correct and non-partisan (a number of them have received government grants in the last seven years and others a lot of government business).

Now I read that Margaret Norrie McCain, the former lieutenant governor, is the the honorary chairwoman of a Liberal candidate in Carleton County. This is quite unusual in my opinion.

The interesting thing about these titans is this. They run major businesses (and organizations) in the province. They know first hand the challenges in the labour market. Some of them are witnessing the decline in the forestry. Others (like McCains) have been personally spending serious money to attract people from all over the place (truckers, IT workers, etc).

They will not become overly political, this is unlikely. The McCain/Liberal thing is most like an abberation.

But if they start getting openly cranky about the state of the economy, it won’t bode well for the governing party.

This is a lesson the politicians need to learn. Collectively, the NB Biz Council probably employs close to 30% or more of the total private sector workforce in the province.

A pretty big group to annoy.

But the flip side of that is also true. If these titans of industry are truly interested in the long term well-being of New Brunswick, they will use their influence to see that the government makes the kinds of investments necessary to support our future growth.

If Lord’s assertion that 76% of all new money has gone into health care doesn’t curl Gerry Pond or Normand Caisse’s hair, I would be highly surprised.

These guys/gals know that a provincial government must be more than just a health care funding agency.

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0 Responses to Waking the giants

  1. scott says:

    Getting away from the giants who run big business in the province for a moment, why is there no french-speaking outlet (online) for french-speaking bloggers, as well as french-speaking citizens, to post on? I thought the CBC was all for the equality of linguistics in NB. So why is Jacques Poitras’ blog the only blog on the CBC site? And the only anglo-blog at that?

    I have raised the gauntlet over at my blog? It would be cool to see what both anglophoes & francophones think? Do they think this is fair?

  2. Anonymous says:

    There are several acadian websites up north, as I’ve said, there is generally a ‘north south’ gap between the languages, and the acadians tend to keep to themselves. Acadians websites tend to be more family related and community related, like the natives they know its best not to awake the ‘race’ question if possible.

    Back to the industry ‘giants’, that’s a little bit of a misnomer. This group formed AFTER AIMS came up with Atlantica and after many stories were leaking about the real state of things. If they wanted, this group could have New Brunswick in full employment mode.

    This group collectively contributes less than 3% of the taxes of the province. We could go on for pages listing what they get out of the province, which is why they are in no hurry to be ‘vocal’. There have been dozens of academic studies showing the effect that large family businesses have over entire small economies-and none of them are flattering.

    Just do some reading on how McCain deals with unions to see what they suck out of the province, believe me, they already have the ear of politicians, they certainly don’t need to ‘get vocal’.

    Look back about ten years ago, the younger McCains wanted to pull out of Florenceville and have their headquarters in Boston. Keep in mind just how much of government in NB you can’t even find out about, the worst freedom of information program in the country. Who knows how much money it is costing New Brunswickers to keep them here.

    They don’t want to attract any more attention than necessary, for labour these people need very few. Look at the forestry department at UNB, it is literally designed so that Irving has pick of the crop and keeps wages low.

    Clearly just looking at how much Lord gets paid, the strange law that lets the Premiers get two paycheques, the fact that clearly these companies can afford that cost, and the fact that business issues that affect these companies NEVER get mentioned shows that these guys certainly have nothing to complain about.

  3. Anonymous says:

    One more thing, about the McCain Liberal thing, families are not corporations,there is not ‘party line’ generally. Many members can break out of the mold for any number of reasons. The McCains are known to be more fractous than the Irvings, but there is a whole lot of literature out there on what different ‘dynasties’ of family businesses produce.