Ranting and raving like a lunatic

Sorry folks. Another rant this AM. I have tried to avoid them but after reading a series of stories out of Ontario and Alberta last week, I feel compelled.

It seems to me that we have deeply embedded in our culture the welfare mentality – provincially and nationally. I am not talking about ‘welfare’ in the traditional sense but in a deeper resignation that we are what we are.

Consider the ongoing stories about the manufacturing sector in Ontario. The sector has lost about 5% of its workforce in recent months and this has elicited reports, studies, commentaries, analysis, dire predictions. Canada’s economic health, it would seem, rests in the balance.

Now, New Brunswick’s manufacturing sector decline has been three to four times worse than Ontario’s in terms of straight jobs decline (relative to the size of the sector of course) and this gets a three paragraph story in the TJ and 30 seconds of airtime on the CBC. Three to four times.

Obviously, at a national level, there is the issue of scale and ripple effect. But in New Brunswick, the delcine in the manufacturing sector should be (in our context) ringing alarm bells all over the place. But it’s not.

Then consider the Tory $350 million cheque to Pratt & Whitney last week. I didn’t read one column – one commentary – in New Brunswick papers (I may have missed it) asking the question why not here? The Tories like the Liberals before them are spending egregious amounts of money to grow industry in voter rich areas and grappling with ‘Equalization’ changes for places like New Brunswick. How come there have been 40+ stories mentioning Equalization in the last month in New Brunswick English language papers and none asking the question about Pratt?

PS – go to FPInfomart.ca and search on New Brunswick papers over the past month to get this result.

Now, contrast that with RIM and their measily $10 million to set up in Nova Scotia. Remember this wasn’t Federal cash – this was Nova Scotia money. I counted at least six editorials in central and western Canada (and one in Halifax) decrying this waste of taxpayer dollars and calling for a rethink of Equalization if Nova Scotia is able to throw around their money in such a cavilier way.

$350M for Pratt in Montreal. Good new story. $10 million for RIM. Waste of taxpayer dollars. What is up with that?

Then there was the lady talking to my wife over the weekend. She tells me that she managed raising her child (single mom) by working six months going on EI working six more months going on EI working six more months going on EI. This is in Moncton. Now, in case you think I’m a heartless S.O.B. – I believe we need to have systems in place to support people in need. It’s better to be on some EI/work cycle than some alternatives. But it just seems part of the culture here.

And, as usual in my rants, I blame the media for much of this thinking. If you took all the problems facing New Brunswick (depopulation, traditional industries’ declining, increasing dependency on Equalization, lack of R&D, lack of Federal investment in economic development) and substituted the word ‘Ontario’ you would have a national crisis on your hands. Here, it’s business as usual. For every one story about the medium and long term implications of the economic crisis in New Brunswick, we get 100 dopey, human interest – isn’t that nice – stories.

I’m not saying we need to completely cut out the stories about our dog rusty or Bratt Pitt or savage attacks on City Hall (okay, that last one should be turfed). But I am saying it would be nice to build awareness among the public of the challenges. Moncton is not immune. Saint John is not immune. Frederiction is not immune. In the very near future, New Brunswick’s economic problems will come to urbanity. Make no mistake.

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0 Responses to Ranting and raving like a lunatic

  1. MonctonLandlord says:

    The manufacturing sector in NB needs vibrance, when was the last time you heard of a business acquisition in manufacturing in the Province? When was the last mfg IPO in NB? When was the last time you heard of a CEO of a mfg company recruited for a bigger SME or competitor in NB? What are these ACOA trends to send SME representatives to Florida, Atlanta and Boston for trade missions? Great idea, too bad the SME does not have any international trade, experienced staff as a rep attending, is it just me? Speaking of ACOA, what is the idea behind having Account Reps with a CGA or CA, doing business counselling, there are so many horror stories from the ACOA NB office (especially Moncton). How many times have I heard of MBA’s hired at ACOA for $70k, they certainly out-number the people I know who got a business loan from ACOA.

    One of the problems is that mfg in NB is still SME territory, owner is CEO, with lack of succession planning, leaves many problems to solve. Owner/CEO appoints family member as general manager, this family member is the most experienced welder, therefore is promoted. Never mind sending this person for Operations Management Training… there is no time for proper training.

    Prblems arise: SME looses 25% of crew to Alberta luring employees with 100% pay increases, employees luring former co-workers, dollar tanks, and the 65year old owner talks to the family GM, and wonders what bad news will be next. Family sells 100 acres of land to pay bills, and this story is probably more familiar to some than trying to recall the last acquisition in their village.

    Local 18 year-old cousin of the family-run business sees this, take the road to university, get a proper education, an accounting degree, and instead of taking the $28k offer to do the accounting in the SME (place he worked for every summer for the last 8 years, ends-up applying for the following jobs: Canada Revenue Agency ($50k), BDC ($65k), Provincial Gov ($47k), ACOA ($68k), City ($55k), Irving ($42k) and also attempts the following: EnCana ($70k), Imperial Oil ($70k) and Syncrude ($70k). His most serious concern becomes what if I get more than 1 offer?

    A bit off topic, but to answer DC’s question: Why doesn’t the economy make the news in NB? Simple, the best people are hired by the gov (municipal, prov and fed), they have it good. The ones that are good/educated, but refuse to go to public service, have left. The ones remaining in NB, are the aging owners of SME, the families in rural NB considering a move to Moncton/Fton/SJ, and the retired. No one complains about the economy in NB, because the ones that would [contact the news reporters], have already left.

  2. EI, EI, OHHHH says:

    When I was in the Miramichi for a month last September, the Blackville mayor had told me that there was a federal program in place that allowed individuals who worked at the mill [part-time] to draw EI while working. The so-called double dip. Most would work for two weeks and then take a week off and draw a cheque. He said there were some families where the spouse would work the calendar so that they could have their week off at the same time and subsequently go on a trip with their husband on his “paid by government” week off. Huh?

    The kicker was he [the mayor] seemed to be proud of the fact that he had some sort of hand in getting the program retroactive. The whole thing sounded tres sketchy to me. Can anyone confirm that such a federal program exist?

  3. Anonymous says:

    Those are two separate issues. Hell, if INDUSTRY can’t get any federal money, at least people can get some with EI. Take that away and you have people spending far less, no savings to invest, no disposable income, with most of their money in the end going to insurance and hydro increases.

    You are right to blame media, but the CBC is somewhat better, but Canada is centrist, always has been. The difference is, in the west they had a population and still some farmers so started the reform party, in Quebec they started two sovereigntist parties. In the east??

    When nobody complains then obviously the central canadian media isn’t going to listen. The media IS the central problem, but again, complaining about it will do nothing. In BC they started http://www.thetyee.ca, one of the best independant media websites in the country, in the east?

    Without political organization and political action, don’t expect anything. There is SOME good news though, as far as manufacturing goes once the new oil refinery and gas terminal are set up Irving has mentioned plastics. Wow! Great news, try reading about some of the massive pollution from those plants! And in the words of CM Burns “with this I can strengthen my grip on this dismal town!”

  4. scott says:

    Warning: ideological diatribe ahead

    I think the point the above commenter [3:24 pm] is trying to make is that if our elected officials [both municipally, provincially and federally] are boasting about, as well as accepting, the overextension of the welfare state in New Brunswick, than isn’t it like what David Campbell said above in his post wherein it is, “part of the culture here.”

    IMHO, feeding off of the plight of other people [in particular the working poor] and preaching further entrenchment of so-called defeatist policies is not why we elected these individuals into office in the first place. At least, I hope it’s not.

    I thought we elected them to enlighten the public [give us guidance], or better yet, to fight for a better future for the next generation. In other words, not for quick fixes for “us”, but more importantly for the longterm growth of our province and our kids who will be home to it. To be capitulating to the fact that “this” is the only way is sad to say the least. Not to mention, it brainwashes a dangerous ethos of dependency into the citizenry which leads to ennui amongst our people. They are supposed to instill hope not doom. As well, it reflects poorly on the office holder in my opinion.

    More importantly, if this is the only vision they have to offer, these office holders should step aside and make way for those individuals who have the political will [and vision] to carry through with the necessary policies as well as make the difficult decisions that will hopefully reverse what is already significantly entrenched here?

    Moreover, if the MSM [Telegraph Journal, Acadie Nouvelle and Times and Transcript] claim this is already underway with the current administration, than they are breading false hope as a government propaganda machine. Why do I say this? Because if there was an honest push to not only change the political atmosphere here, but the economic environment as well, than it would be obvious to all New Brunswickers as [unfortunately] it wouldn’t be a pretty sight for those who are [and always have] advocating the status quo.

    If you’re not convinced, just look at the first 2 years of the Campbell administration in BC if you’re curious to what I am getting at here.

    The bottom line is that we need serious reforms to the way we conduct politics and do business here in New Brunsick. Anything less is unacceptable as it will lead us down the same ridiculous path.

  5. MonctonLandlord says:

    “Anything less is unacceptable as it will lead us down the same ridiculous path. “

    I agree, the riduculous path dubbed Prosperity Plan (PC) is not far from the self-sufficiency plan so far. Where is the leader when you need him the most?