A couple of quick comments this evening, then back to work.
First, a few great comments to this blog over the past week. Well thought out and a few with historical perspective. That’s what I had hoped when I started this blog.
Second, I have joined Facebook. I am 40 years old but they let me in. I guess if Fred Morley of the GHP can get in, so can I. By the way, I did a quick scan of Facebook and found every Premier in Canada except Shawn Graham.
Third, I am pleased to see more debate of economic development issues in the blogosphere but in the traditional media as well (I don’t know about TV – I don’t watch TV anymore – I bought my 52 inch LCD and then stopped watching – but my kids watch Hannah Montana so all is not lost).
For example, the T&T and others have been highlighting NB Power rates and saying things like residents shouldn’t be subsidizing industry and business with their electricity rates. Well, the truth – rarely told in public – is that the spread between residential and industrial rates in New Brunswick is one of the tightest in all of North America and the U.S. states that have been attracting industry have a much higher spread (industrial rates lower/residental rates higher) than New Brunswick. Last point on this. I bet the folks in Miramichi or Dalhousie would have been willing to pay another $100 or so per year on their power bills to keep their mills. Now, we will never know.
My point is that we need to have the debate. And we still don’t have it in a broad fashion. I have a 100 year old home in downtown Moncton. I shovel the coal into that thing constantly to keep it warm in winter. If you come along and put up my rates and make some vague statement about ‘subsidizing’ industry, sure I’ll fight to keep my rates low. Until I see both sides. Until I see that the reason why New Brunswick has among the highest personal tax rates (for my bracket) in Canada is that we have a weak economy. Until someone links in energy policy to economic development policy for me. Then, maybe I’ll think twice. But we don’t see much of that linking.
Al Hogan will yell at the top of his lungs about the need to cut corporate taxes and then yell about not subsidizing industrial rates on the backs of residents. Ask a manufacturer in New Brunswick if they want a couple of points shaved off their corporate tax rate or a doubling of their electricity costs over 5-6 years. Go ahead, ask them.