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Warning: Pet peeve ahead

I’m a pretty mellow guy but one thing that grinds my gears is when Ontario-based experts equate Northern Ontario and New Brunswick.  This includes Mr. Ignatieff who made the same off-handed point one time while in New Brunswick.

New Brunswick is a province, it is not a small part of a large province.   New Brunswick is not ‘rural Canada’.  It has urban centres – small urbans to be sure – but all the features of urbanity – universities, hospitals, airports, etc.  It is wrong – even for Toronto-based gurus - to say New Brunswick is rural Canada. 

Not all of New Brunswick has trouble retaining talent.  Again, another broad sweep based on the definition that New Brunswick=Rural.  Certain parts of New Brunswick and certain industries are having trouble but I wonder if the Toronto-based guru realizes that from 2001 to 2006 there was a positive net-migration from Toronto to Moncton.  Take a look.  675 people were living in Moncton in 2006 that were living in Toronto in 2001.  445 people were living in Toronto in 2006 that were living in Moncton in 2001.  Oops.  Maybe Toronto has a brain-drain problem  – at least to Moncton it does.

I’m sure this guy is well intentioned.  New Brunswick isn’t on his radar so he is plucking concepts from other locations and trying to tweak them for relevance here.  Fine. Hope the lobster was good.

What we really need out of these gurus is ideas on how small urbans can compete, how provinces (not small regions within provinces) can build the kind of policies that support attracting investment into targeted industries.  Ultimately that is the source of my discomfort with the New Brunswick=Northern Ontario analogy.  New Brunswick has the fiscal and policy making capacity to do things that make it distinct from the Gaspe or Northern Ontario or rural BC or all of the other places Iggy thinks looks like New Brunswick.

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  1. richard
    June 18th, 2010 at 18:16 | #1

    “The research director of Toronto’s Martin Prosperity Institute”

    that equals Richard Florida, which equals bunk masquerading as insight and expertise.

  2. Mike E.
    June 21st, 2010 at 11:31 | #2

    two thoughts on this post and the article that spawned it.

    first up is this http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_the_100_largest_urban_areas_in_Canada_by_population Moncton and Saint John are similar to Thunder Bay/Sudbury. The similarities go beyond population too. All of those cities have similar economic challenges, as do the rural areas that surround them. There are issues that a province faces that a sub-region does not, i.e. fiscal ones, but I just wanted to say that we are a lot more similar than we are dissimilar. So we should be looking to areas like northern Ontario, or smaller regions/jurisdictions in Europe/South America. I think that if Atlantic Canada is to grow and prosper it needs its people to punch above their weight and I think the same applies to us public policy experts. We shouldn’t ignore a message just because someone lacks tact.

    Speaking of a lack of tact my second comment is that I’m with you on the “people in Ontario are clueless about everything to the east of them sometimes” thing. I couldn’t imagine having the B@#$s to offer advice to someone without first becoming informed on the subject. I guess it goes to show that you never really know how much you don’t know.

  3. Mike in Calgary
    June 26th, 2010 at 00:50 | #3

    I enjoy your blog, although I have not read it in some time.

    I live in Calgary, originally from NB. The thing that you may not appreciate is that people in the large cities don’t know much about anywhere outside of the larger cities. It is completely off their radar.

    This is not unique to NB. Ask someone in Calgary about Saskatoon and unless they are from there, they probably have not been there and know little about it. Ask someone in Toronto about North Bay, or Kingston, and I bet for the most part they may have driven through once but they don’t think about it.

    I think many people in NB think they are the victim of some great conspiracy by the urbanites….and I don’t think this is the case. Like it or not, the world in the last 20 years has migrated from rural to large urban centres. Deal with it. NB, this is not unique to you.

    My suggestion is to adapt to it by marketing nb more as a tri-city area. This means sacrifices and believe it or not – change! actual change.

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