It is interesting how easy it seems to be to get people fired up against economic development and so hard to get people fired up for economic development. Forget economists, I think it is time to enrol the sociologists in this discussion.
Last week, the Premier recounted the story of meeting a guy in rural NB who railed against oil and gas development here and then decried the lack of jobs that has resulted in young people moving to Alberta to work in oil and gas.
I have had the same discussions with folks.
It’s not just oil and gas. Aquaculture, forestry, mining, wind turbines, and a host of other – mostly natural resource-based development – will provoke not only negative views but a cohort of high engaged activists. Unfortunately, there are few activists actually fighting for development.
My email inbox is fills up with at least 3-4 emails decrying development for every one supporting it. I still get a fairly steady stream of posts to this blog that are unpublishable because of language or something similar.
Even as you read this, you have likely formed a binary opinion – sweeping the whole thing as a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ proposition. “I’m not going to sacrifice the environment for jobs” on one side and “we need the jobs no matter what” on the other.
This is too simplistic – too 140 characteristic.
We need to be able to say say that – like anything in life – there are methods of economic development that exact too great a toll on the environment, communities and/or social life. But not all development, does – not all resources-based development does.
I don’t think I have changed many minds and likely will not which is why I think it is time to bring in the sociologists.
Maybe they can help explain how Canadians in NL, SK, AB and BC can be overwhelmingly supportive of oil and gas development while New Brunswickers are not.
Maybe they can explain how NDP governments in western Canada were behind the responsible development of a wide variety of non-renewable resource industrial development while here they are the largest opponents.
Maybe they can explain how a Liberal leadership candidate could cast a Texas businessman as a bogeyman to be feared instead of a company prepared to invest here and hire workers into $80k+/year jobs.
Understanding this is far beyond the realm of economists and political pundits.