Economic developer activists

I just had lunch with an old salt of the economic development trade in New Brunswick. After we dispensed with all the standard “can you believe…” or “did you hear about…” pleasantries, he told me that his wife calls him an ‘activist’ that took a wrong turn or something.

That got me thinking. There are not a lot of economic developers around that have the personality of an activist. Of truly believing in something. Willing to ‘strap themselves to the tree’ for economic development. Until now, at least, passion and economic development have not been used in the same sentence very much when it comes to New Brunswick.

But upon reflection, economic developer activists actually use some of the language of environmental activists. Now, without equating in anyway the scope of the thing, think about it:

Consider “if we don’t act now we will imperil future generations”. Economic developer activists say the same thing about our communities and our province.

Or consider “we are harming the health of not only this generation but also future generations”. Economic developer activists make the same case about the economic health of the province.

Or, how about the latest. This just in. The CBC is reporting that global warming is not a future scenario – we are in it. Quebec is developing plans for how to deal with the heat and seniors in Montreal as a result of climate change. A famous UK scientist says we need to put more effort into dealing with the existing climate problems than in trying to prevent future ones.

Well, again the same thing. Economic developer activists tell the public that population decline is not a future scenario but that we are currently in it (actually there is no debate about the ‘science’ of population decline – just look at the 1996 Census population for New Brunswick and then look at the 2006 Census population).

One should not stretch the analogy too far but certain economic developer activists would say that we have ‘sold out’ to the New Brunswick equivalent of the likes of Al Gore and Leonard Decaprio. Folks who like to drive around talking about the seriousness of the problems and about the need to ‘bring our folks back’ and on and on but then live in their 30,000 square feet homes as it were.

One wonders what the equalivalent to carbon offsets might be in my overly stretched metaphorical world.

Anyway to my economic developer activist colleague I say this. Keep hugging those trees (as it were).

Maybe if we can get a little passion injected into this thing, we may get something done.

However, I turn 40 this year and reserve the right to slip into complete cynicism at any given time.

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0 Responses to Economic developer activists

  1. scott says:

    Activist??? Groan.

    It seems as though too many exchanges with Anon/Mikel has left you in a Marxist haze these days, David. 😉

    Either that or you truly believe in the dark left-wing, anti-Irving, media monopoly conspiracies that only a person sipping fair trade coffee from a hemp mug could postulate.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Hmmm, ok, now I DO like to disagree with Scott! Only in a place like New Brunswick can a person say with a straight face “media monopoly conspiracies” and not burst out laughing. Yes, you do indeed have to be really marginalized to say radically debateable things like “one company owns every daily newspaper in the province”. Who would beleive such an absurd idea?!

    Or how about this conspiracy theory: “one family owns six radio stations, all the english dailies, all the french dailies but one, and also has industrial interests in every industry in the province”

    WOW, whaaaacko! Those left wing carpet sniffers are just so out there! How about this one: that one family virtually never reports on the environmental regulations their companies are found guilty of.

    Or my favourite, right up there with “Martians have Elvis”: Gas terminal gets tax break that has them paying one tenth the tax similar proposals get in other jurisdictions like Maine or Quebec, yet this is never reported”

    Or who was that crazed drugged maniac that came out with “corporations pay the least percentage of the provincial budget of any province in Canada”

    Wow! Oh my God, now I’m dizzy. So many ‘conspiracy theories’ so little time! Who could come up with such ridiculous notions!

    But back to the issue, YOU are the closest thing to an economic development activist that the province has. However, that’s changing in certain quarters because more industry players are learning to use that to their advantage.

    So it was virtually impossible to get groundswell opposition to the LNG terminal that the province essentially paid for through the tax breaks, mainly because every argument in NB comes down to ‘will it supply jobs’. Unless, as we have lately learned, it has anything to do with industry that Irving doesn’t like or credit unions in the north.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Hmmm.. well if carbon offsets to environmentalists mean doing something to help the environment somewhere else — instead of ceasing to drive your SUV — then the economic equivalent would be improving the economy somewhere else.

    Somehow in theory the whole planet should therefore benefit.

    So I guess instead of working toward creating winning economic conditions at home, you could try to further them elsewhere.

    Perhaps order online from the USA products you could by at your local store?

    Make a donation to a foreign university?

    Send your kids to BC to go to school or work?