The FARSE! (you’ll get the spelling error later)

There will be no side deal for New Brunswick! said a disgruntled Jim Flaherty last week.

Maybe Shawn Graham just needs to get creative.

$900 million for the ‘aerospace’ sector (read: Quebec). New Brunswick’s total aerospace exports in 2006 were $3.2 million. Quebec’s aerospace exports were $8.2 billion. Or about 8.156 bilion more than New Brunswick. Give or take a few dollars.

Who do you think will get this $900 million?

In order for Shawn to get money for his side deal, he just needs to do a couple of things.

He needs to add, say, 6 million population to actually be noticed by the Federal government.

Second, he needs to craft a national strategy that will benefit only New Brunswick. What industry do we have in New Brunswick that can only be found in trace amounts in the rest of Canada?

Fiddleheads.

I propose a $900 million national Strategic Fiddlehead and Atlantic Salmon Initiative. But, you say, Quebec’s aerospace sector already benefitted disporportionately from the current and very active Technology Partnerships Canada program and the federal government defence contract procurement system.

Fair enough.

I propose a $900 million national strategic Fiddlehead and Atlantic Raised Salmon Effort(FARSE) to supplement the $3.5 billion Blueberry Partnerships Canada fund and the $5 billion Federal government FMP (farmed mussel procurement) program. Come on. Think this through. $5 billion worth of mussels from New Brunswick sent to the third world to raise Omega 3 levels among the poor.

In all seriousness, you have to wonder how long Western Canadians will put up with this. Eventually, another Reform Party will have to emerge. Unless they continue to buy the notion that this is all just to form a national government and then Up with the West!

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0 Responses to The FARSE! (you’ll get the spelling error later)

  1. scott says:

    In all seriousness, you have to wonder how long Western Canadians will put up with this. Eventually, another Reform Party will have to emerge. Unless they continue to buy the notion that this is all just to form a national government and then Up with the West!

    You know you’re “down and out” as a province when your best spokesperson [you Dave] sees the recent pouring of federal $$$ into Quebec as somehow a reason to sympathize with the west. What about the province you live in? Should they not be angry enough to separate? Or are you against this approach since all else seems to be working fine just the way it is?

    Something has to give soon, no?

  2. David Campbell says:

    Actually, at an intellectual level, the concept of withdrawing from Confederation as a last ditch, dramatic attempt to re-energize this region’s economy probably is an idea worth considering. However, I spent seven years in the U.S. and found out that treason (i.e. talk of separation) is one of the few remaining Federal offenses worthy of the death penalty. Of course, in Canada things are completely different. If you talk of leaving Canada, they name main streets and buildings after you. But still, I get the willies just mentioning it.

  3. scott says:

    Good point and I’m with you on this one. There will never be political union, even through a protest movement, in this region.

    First of all, there are two things working against such a thing ever happening: 1.) resource rich provinces have entirely different agendas [objectives] than do ones without 2.) Even though Mr. Savoie says the three maritime provinces have a lot in common in their history, there is reason to believe, ever since the days of the quiet revolution in Quebec and the rise of Trudeau Liberalism in Canada, that what the three province view as “in common” has definitely changed with time. He may be right if he was refering to pre-confederation to the late 50s.

    Moreover, I think these are two things a protest party should consider in the Atlantic region before trying to politize another Maritime Rights’ Movements.

  4. mikel says:

    On this topic, you can hear an interview done with Jonathan Dean, the leader of the Atlantica Party at the site http://www.broadcastnb.com. Just follow the link at my name.

    He’s fairly active in national online forums, in fact we just had a little brouhaha at http://www.vivelecanada.ca because his very first post there said “should atlantic canada separate”. Since this website is partly aimed at getting out of US-Canadian integration they didn’t take too kindly to that.

    As Jon explains though, that was just for conversation. And we’ve discussed, there is no point in talking about ‘separation’, when the provinces could never agree on ‘union’.

    However, my disappointment with the party is that they only act at the provincial level. If there is a case for maritime union it seems clear to me (obviously just to me though) that that should be done at the federal level.

    The private sector of course doesn’t like political unions, Irving would have a harder time with a government that includes three other provinces, even AIMS doesn’t even care about stuff like that. That makes me think though, that perhaps thats WHY you never hear about maritime integration.

    There are, of course, huge differences. Hell, there are huge differences just within New Brunswick, the north and south are two different provinces, and one could easily divide it into six to ten ‘regions’. Fredericton, and therefore New Brunswick, is run by loyalist families, always has been, thats why its fun to see Charles Leblanc razzing them. Loyalists didn’t fare nearly so well in Nova Scotia.

    That doesn’t mean its impossible. With enough members the Atlantica Party doesn’t have to just be the cause of a few guys, they either take on grassroots recommendations or else implode like the Canadian Action Party just did. If enough people joined and some guy said “screw this, I’m running at the federal level”, I doubt he’d get kicked out, in fact they’d probably applaud and then others would join in.

    That’s what I hope will happen. As we’ve reported over and over again, many of New Brunswicks problems are self inflicted, however, the simple reality (again, just to me) is that the province is run by its corporate elites with a stranglehold on the media. With a Premier who doesn’t even have popular support, there is very little wiggle room. That’s what a federal government is SUPPOSED to be for, otherwise why would anybody want to be in one? NB is small, but no smaller than some european countries and with a population larger than some countries (though not many)

    However, if nothing else, the ‘lets leave’ line would get some attention, no doubt at first giggles and laughs. However, politicians don’t like waves, so who knows what it COULD accomplish. But first, it would be a HUGE leap just to see maritime unity in the form of a party at the federal level. I mentioned that to Jon, but since they are all Nova Scotians, then I think they think it makes more sense to go provincial.

    Trouble is, if they only get takers in Nova Scotia, the entire project becomes moot. I did mention this website to him, because if a federal nominee were from Nova Scotia or even PEI then the ‘Atlantic issue’ that would get populist support I think could directly come from this website- investment in industrial expansion.

    As I’ve said before, I’ve been here lots and still haven’t seen any concrete examples, apart from the ‘big families’, where exactly is that industrial investment supposed to go?

  5. Anonymous says:

    Two points:

    1)The power of focus: If we make it easy for the feds by focusing on a (logical)sector and seeking funding for that focus rather than belly-aching for every minority sector, language and geographic interest group, we might have a chance for serious support. At present, we make it easy for them to ignore us. We need to act our size. At pop. 730K (and declining), we might have a chance to be a leader in one sector.

    2) We should never forget that the ‘side deal’ opportunity was blown by the former provincial government. As the increasingly desperate Martin liberals hung on to what power they had, landing in Saint John fresh after signing special energy deals with NFLD and NS and with a $1B cheque written (for Lepreau refurbishment)and only needing signing in front of a suitably appreciative media, our then Premier snubbed the opportunity and made himself busy up north some place. When NB has an opportunity for an unexpected injection of $1B of federal funding, it better be priority #1. Such opportunities are rare and we paid a big price for small-town, small-time politics.

  6. David Campbell says:

    Anon,

    I had forgotten about the side deal that Lord nixed. I guess I am getting senile in my old age. Anyway, I agree with you on the focus (although I don’t believe it’s fiddleheads). In many ways, it’s an age old problem. The provinces want Fed money but don’t want to be told where to spend it. I say the opposite. I say the province builds a concrete plan to grow a industry (ies) such as computer animation and goes to the Feds with very clear strategy. Even at that, I think the province should go ahead without the Feds involvement.

    I was struck with the passage in Donald Savoie’s recent book about the fact that the Maritimes were worried about upper Canada dominating the political landscape after Confederation. At that point, the Maritimes had something like 15% of the country’s population. Now we have – collectively – less than 6% of the population.

  7. Anonymous says:

    I find that hard to believe since Lord was constantly griping to the feds about helping pay for the Lepreau refurbishment but the feds wouldn’t hear of it. Most of the media at the time said that the feds couldn’t get into energy creation, because that would mean they’d be on the hook to ontario and PEI. While I don’t doubt politics can play a big part in financing, I’m skeptical that Lord rejected a billion dollars to fund lepreau by not showing up to collect a cheque.

  8. scott says:

    The provinces want Fed money but don’t want to be told where to spend it. I say the opposite. I say the province builds a concrete plan to grow a industry (ies) such as computer animation and goes to the Feds with very clear strategy.

    Why has the mindset always been [in this neck of the woods anyway] that government should be in the business of picking winners and losers? In other words, being the saviour to all. I worked within the government as an official opposition speech writer, but that doesn’t mean that I believe in using the government as a means to engineer a better economy. [i.e. corporate welfare, ACOA, DREE and DRIE] Not to mention, as I’ve said before, this kind of approach always seems to evoke regional jealousies and does nothing to strengthen our country’s national fabric.

    IMHO, a strong private sector coupled with a small and lean progressive bureaucracy is the way to go. Not government involvement in every sector of society like Savoie suggests everytime you turn around. Who knows, maybe that’s the Max Weber coming out in him?

    I guess what I am saying is that I would rather see us move away from that statist view that has existed in this province for many generations. It’s been around for so long that many know of no other way to proceed. Sad.

    Let’s be honest, if this ‘government knows best’ provincial approach had worked, we wouldn’t be in the pickle we are in today, would we? This approach doesn’t work. IMHO, this kind of practice [corporate welfare] does more damage to the overall competitiveness and entrepreneurial spirit of a country or province than it does good.

    Don’t get me wrong, government’s not all “doom and gloom” as they need to offer state of the art, modernized services [healthcare, social assitance, welfare, etc], not to mention, they may even want to decentralize some government units so that a province can administer their own programs and services directly to the people. I say this because studies have shown that this approach has been proven to be more effective for employee productivity. In other words, it saves money because workers are less apt to leave so they work better and the department has less turnover.

    However, government doesn’t need to interfere with business other than to offer a few incentives and tax breaks for certain industries they want to flourish. That’s fair. Handing out taxpayers money to partisans and government friendly firms is not the way to build a longlasting and strong economy.

    If that’s the case, I guess good projects like these ones in PEI need not even bother to try to amke a go of it in our province. In other words, they should wait for the government to roll around and fund them. So much for being a proactive, globally competitive province. Let’s just keep our province in a statist haze and proceed. It’s worked good for a few so far. And I emphasize the word “few”.

  9. scott says:

    Btw, I would just like to add that the tories have been inflicted with this chronic form of statism a few times before, both provincially and federally. Most notably during the days of the Mulroney government (circa ’88-92), or around the same time they killed DRIE in favour of a new regional development scheme better known today as ACOA.

    Don’t get me wrong, I realize that these types of programs have an electoral benefit, but as I said above, they do nothing to strengthen the national fabric of our nation. Which is why I was truly disgusted to see this. Btw, I see I’m not the only one.

  10. Anonymous says:

    It is surprising how little fuss was made about Lord losing the Lepreau funding. Do a bit of research. The PM is on record with his intentions to fund Lepreau; Andy Scott as well. Remember the deals with NS and Nfld were freshly inked. Lord started playing politics and screwed it up giving the Feds an easy way out. A $1B screw up.

    Re the aerospace sector. Guys, we have to quit crying foul and learn how to play the game; let’s focus our negative energy into supporting a key sector here. $B’s went into PQ aerospace yet they avoided being labeled as welfare recipients. Hell, Ontario had major departments and legislature dedicated to the autopact to get their life-changing industry in place. Maybe NB’s focus is environmental technology; we have more engineers per capita than any place in Canada. Or maybe it is energy or aquaculture. Let’s just agree to something logical and sustainable, and consistently lobby for it. As long as we point fingers and/or self destruct by in-fighting,we will continue to fail.

  11. Anonymous says:

    I think that last post is a correction to Scott’s point about the tories. Theres no such thing as a ‘small state’ government. Keep in mind that our neighbour to the south isn’t that different.

    However, Scott has a point…to a point. The reality is that you don’t need to go much farther to find a government that doesn’t do much, and so by that logic New Brunswick should be the richest province in Canada.

    As David has said, if Ontario and Quebec’s economy are propped up by the feds, then asking for the same treatment isn’t unreasonable.

    However, provinces are different. ANybody who thinks NB is going to go big on ethanol is dreaming. The problem is of course who runs the province..Irving and McCain. Virtually every industry has one of there companies.

    Its impossible to benefit from natural resources, the licensees have them tied up. Forget agricultural, McCain has that sewn up. Who the hell is going to come to NB for knowledge industries when Nova Scotia, Quebec, and Ontario are littered with universities.

    THAT is the reality. Telling government to stay out of it is basically saying ‘stay losers’. Ethanol is fine for PEI, and I guarantee they’ll see government money from it. NB isn’t PEI, they’ve got all kinds of energy ideas, but NB has, well, Irving. If you want to see governments next move, just watch Irving.

  12. David Campbell says:

    I add my two cents worth. If all other provinces and states (and Federal governments) stop doling out grants, forgiveable loans, price subsidy programs, billion dollar tax programs to subsidize oil sands development, protectionist policies that keep prices inflated (remember milk prices are set in New Brunswick and are close to twice what they are in Maine even though several studies have shown that our kids don’t get enough milk in their diets), and don’t forget the hundreds of millions spent by governments on training for the auto sector, etc., then I would be perfectly happy to have minimal government involvement in economic development. Until such time, however; I will push for more government funding for ED programs.

    Oh and by the way, the ethanol plant on PEI that Scott serves up as a model? It requires guarantees that government will buy its power at an agreed upon rate. In some circles, this is the worst case of statism. Governments taking on all the risk and the private sector getting the reward.

    But a good and healthy debate, nonetheless!

  13. Anonymous says:

    To add to that debate, there are no studies that kids don’t drink enough milk. In fact, most studies show the opposite, that milk leeches calcium. The studies may show kids are drinking too much crap and not enough healthy foods.

    Also on ethanol, it may not be the saviour thought, turns out Ottawa has studies it doesn’t burn any cleaner than regular gasoline.

    To narrow the debate further, that seems to be a big argument, should government simply let others do the work and just buy the product.

    Why is this interesting? Well, that’s the way New Brunswick is moving. Notice the only ‘risk’ they are willing to take is in high risk, high cost nuclear. Wind power, which would be cheaper if staggered over years, is being sold out to private companies and no doubt you’ll find the same thing, that the province is on the hook to buy the power at a pre-determined price.

    Remember also that NB Power buys power from Irving, and no doubt will be buying natural gas from them, again, no doubt at a highly inflated price.

    So this is very relevant, instead of simply ‘selling off’ NB Power, basically what is happening is its turning into a marketplace to guarantee the markets for producers and suppliers.

    This is very relevant as what exactly people want from their government is a good question-especially where the economy is concerned.

  14. scott says:

    Also on ethanol, it may not be the saviour thought, turns out Ottawa has studies it doesn’t burn any cleaner than regular gasoline.

    Like most statist, you both see things for what they are right now, not for what they could be. Creating a healthy business environment where competitiveness trumps both entitlement and monopolies is a long ways away in this province.

    However, it will never be realized if we always capitulate to what I view as the easy way out, that being, waiting for government to intervene and solve all our challenges. Government is there to lead and lead they should. But if you think that they are solely in the business of engineering winners and losers in any industry sector, you are dead wrong.

    As for the ethanol industry in Canada, it has found difficulty in getting off the ground in recent years because the previous government wavered for a good six years which really set the industry behind the eight ball. I’m proud to say today that Harper’s government has made a commitment to further the industry here in Canada. Something I feel is long overdue.

    If you look at Brazil’s ethanol industry, they managed to curb their initial difficulties through aggressive tax incentives so as to prohibit the construction of critical infrastructure needed to turn the country’s profuse supply of sugar into a workable fuel for all vehicles. Not to mention, the country heavily subsidized their auto industry so as to develop cars and trucks that run strictly on pure ethanol. That is how industry is created, not by standing by in hopes that the government will bail out a bad idea because they’re a government friendly firm or someone who has donated to a certain party.

    To me, making certain that the proper infrastructure is in place is a necessity if you’re looking to develop any new industry whether it be in a province or a country. Most importantly, it has to be realized by using an equitable process. That’s why I have always preferred, as did Bill Clinton, that government use tax incentives as opposed to corporate welfare schemes because the latter gets caught up in political red tape and invokes regional jealousies. I mean, where do you think we would be today David if the government hadn’t ensured that the proper money was put in place so as to promote and prohibit the construction of critical infrastructure needed to accomodate electricity when it was first dicovered. The state didn’t sponsor the creation of electricity, Thomas Edison’s work in the late 1870s was the result years in a private labratory [i.e. a researcher in a lab examining the attributes of electricity in the context of solving a particular problem: devising a system of interior illumination that was competitive with gas] Not to mention, he was credited with being the creator of the first industrial research laboratory. To be honest, it would be nice if New Brunswick had nore free thinkers like Edison as it seems like creativity in this province has been reduced due to an overdependency on government.

    So don’t count out ethanol yet guys, this industry needs more government committment and less interference for it to grow. Let’s hope somebody has the sense to bypass the provincial level of government in their pursuits because if they wait for them, it will never see the light of day, much like self-sufficiency by 2025.

    Oh, and by the way David, I encourage you to push for more government funding for ED programs. If that’s what you truly believe in? Btw, it shouldn’t be a difficult pursuit as it’s been tried many times before in this province. It’s been tried so much that even Donald Savoie is getting tired of writing thick books on the subject, or should I say failures. I guess it’s not too late to add another chapter for the old guy, we could call it DIET [Department of Idiotic Economic Thought] 😉 I knew I could get a laugh out of you sooner or later. lol

  15. Anonymous says:

    I didn’t argue much with Scott since that’s essentially what I thought he meant. However, sometimes a hard look in the mirror is necessary to find that ideologies are not so dissimilar.

    Brazil’s government is CLEARLY ‘leading’ the ethanol movement, no point in pretending that small entrepreneurs are doing it, and I doubt Scott would venture there.

    Harper initially had that idea too, an idea dropped when he realized he was getting nowhere in Quebec and Ontario who don’t have raw resources, so have to ‘make’ money in other ways-namely corporate welfare.

    However, once again if that were true New Brunswick would be rich. Nobody hands out tax savings like New Brunswick. As I’ve pointed out before, with two of the worlds richest families the province gets the LEAST percentage of corporate tax of its budget than any other province. As mentioned in the paper, New Brunswicks richest ten percent are the wealthiest ten percent of any province.

    You don’t get that way by taxing corporations and wealth, quite the reverse. So IF that were true, NB would be floating in dough, not the case. There are all kinds of ways companies save taxes, you really have to get into the details. Nowadays most companies, particularly knowledge based ones, will state flat out that taxes are only a minor consideration, because they know damn well that if they provide jobs, they can pretty much dictate what taxes they pay.

    Where i disagree with Scott, sort of, is that ‘government is supposed to lead’. Not true at all. Government is suppposed to ‘represent’, which is what they do. However, look at the party’s policies and you can see WHO they represent. Brazilians are ‘leading’ their government by electing a fairly left wing leader, whereas in NB, the NDP can barely get mentioned.

    So that brings us back to representation in politics. YOu don’t have it, you’re *&^%ed.

    Scott mentioned ethanol, and I’ll agian mention soybeans, which NB WOULD have an advantage since they are closer to europe than ontario. But it requires policies to do that, sometimes it requires subsidies. If the forest industry can get them, why not farms? Again, because farms are being consolidated and are used for potatoes for McCain, and dairy for coops, there is simply no room left. These companies have legislation tied to their needs.

  16. scott says:

    Again, because farms are being consolidated and are used for potatoes for McCain, and dairy for coops, there is simply no room left.

    There was a time when I actually lived in NB fulltime, and during my high school days, I used to work with NB ag. as a student. Our division was in charge of farmland survey for the Hopewell Cape region, Sackville and surrounding, Port Elgin, Dorchester, Sussex and parts of Shediac and Cap Pele. You wouldn’t believe the amount of graded land [both crown and private] that was sitting dormant. I know if you gave some of those farmers some incentives to use that land they would. At the moment, the government hasn’t drawn up a strategy to get that land functional.

    I mean, listen to this, there are left wing groups in my neck of the woods who want to tear down the dykes and flood the marsh. Thus. destroying thousands of hectres of farmland. And for what? So that seniors can view sandpipers and wildlife. They actually think that this is a solid economic plan and would spurn growth. Come on.