d’Aquino’s hidden agenda

I completely understand former Premier Frank McKenna’s positive reaction to the tax cuts in the most recent Liberal budget.  Frank has always relished his role as Salesman in Chief for New Brunswick and now he has another tool to go out and talk about.  I also understand Britt Dysart’s reaction.  He realy seems to enjoy his role as hammerer-of-all-things-PC. 

But these guys like Thomas d’Aquino, president of the Canadian Council of Chief Executives coming out in support of the budget?  I think that is just plain cynical.  The CCCE has 150 members – almost all of the largest corporations in Canada and other than the NB firms Irving, McCain – these companies have almost completely ignored New Brunswick.  I remember back in my call centre days – I was told that New Brunswick had better luck attracting U.S headquartered companies than Canadian headquartered companies.  More recently, Halifax has attracted almost a dozen financial services firms to that city – how many of them are based in Toronto?  None.

It’s stunning really.  The largest financial, ICT, manufacturing and service firms in Canada and other than small retail operations here – they have not invested in New Brunswick – ever.  RBC, TD and a few other have call centres here.  McCain, Irving & Ganong are here to be sure but how about manufacturing, software development, distribution facilities, financial services back offices, R&D labs, pharmaceutical benefits management centres, etc.?  Nothing.  $3.5 trillion in assets.

I’ll tell you what.  If Thomas d’Aquino’s members start flocking to New Brunswick to set up new manufacturing, software development studios, animation studios, media production facilities, etc. then I’ll say he is not being cynical.  But until then I’ll continue to believe that he just wants to put pressure on McGuinty and other provinces where these firms actually do have more than just a retail presence to cut their tax rates. 

I believe passionately in New Brunswick and its ability to compete in the global market place.  I really hope, and spend much of my time advocating for it, that New Brunswick can turn itself around and become a place of growth and economic dynamism in my lifetime.   But unfortunately I think we will have a easier time trying to attract manufacturing and software development, etc. out of Europe, maybe India and the US than out of Toronto.  It’s unfortunate.  You would think that these big national companies would have an interest in Canada having a strong and successful economy from coast to coast but I see no real evidence of that.

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5 Responses to d’Aquino’s hidden agenda

  1. Anonymous says:

    You are right on that! Ontario will never invest in their whipping boy NB. They like to use NB to compare themselves with so as to maintain their ability to be superior over somebody. AS they sink into oblivion.

  2. mikel says:

    It’s not cynicism, again, its just part of who they represent. New Brunswick lowered tax rates for corporations-that’s all they care about. If its good for their corporations, then that’s the bottom line, no cynicism at all. What ELSE would they say? Like the IRving story the only disingenuous part is the claim that they want a ‘stronger and better Canada’. Their assumption is that if their corporations are stronger, by definition the country is stronger (a quick look at the US shows thats not the case). But that really has nothing to do with provinces, the CCCE has members from all over Canada. Jim Irving has far more in common with other CCCE members than he does with an average New Brunswicker.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Keeping right on topic, a nice morning and was just thinking of a nice camping trip, on nice roads, with nice accommodations, different food, great scenery, SAFE, no border hassle, and on the way to the southern tip of South America, down one coast and back the other. What a dream.

  4. Independent says:

    It would be nice if Mr McKenna or the Premier challenged the CCCE publicly to match their support for New Brunswick through investment and job creation. It’s all well and good for this dude to sit in an office in Toronto, and preach to us how great it is that we’re borrowing hundreds of millions to give money back to his members. He should encourage his members to put their money where his mouth is.

    The tax reform, just like Premier Lord’s reduction of small business tax, will be for naught without new capital flow into our province. If we’re just a stick to be used in negotiations with larger provinces, we’re better off not wasting our time.

  5. mikel says:

    That actually would be a neat experiment. Emailing the corporate executives (ironically our anonymous friend should be BIG fans of theirs since they are pushing the North American Union stuff harder than anybody) and asking them ‘now that NB has lowered the tax rate, how much new investment will you be doing there?’ If it came from somebody who was writing an economic development article for a paper it would be likely to get an answer:)

    But you never know, it was just days after the budget with the tax cuts that Irving said it was interested in a Natural Gas processing plant. Maybe it was the tax rate that pushed them over (tho I doubt it).

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