Let’s blow this popsicle stand

Interesting article in the T&T this A.M. (I can’t give you a URL because you have to pay). It’s about the migration of workers to Alberta. In usual style, Al Hogan doesn’t mention the Premier by name at all and gently addresses the issue by having his journalist insert quotes like:

But Jody Carr, Minister of Post-Secondary Education and Training, says the migration of New Brunswickers to the prosperous Western provinces is nothing new.

Still, it’s an issue that Al Hogan has covered only sporadically – considering we have had net out-migration of people for 14 straight years.

Then Al’s worker bee goes into great detail about all the wonderful efforts that the province is undertaking to keep people from moving to Alberta and just when you think he is about to put a cherry on top (something like “We love you, Bernie!”), the journalist dips in an Alec Brucian direction and digs up some actual verbal frontline footage from the Miramichi. For a politician, this is blood curtling stuff:

But Walsh [Miramichi resident] says those projects require workers to leave the rural communities to find work in more urban centres, and the government is doing little to help replenish rural communities that can’t compete with resource-rich Alberta. “They (government) need to do something,” she says. “The graduates, where are they going to go? Even working at McDonald’s, you could barely survive on your own. I feel sorry for the young people, because there’s just nothing for them here.” In Walsh’s small community Of Wayerton, 20 kilometres (13 miles) north of Sunny Corner, she can count half a dozen families that live nearby whose children have decided to call Alberta home.

And there’s more:

Edwina Matchett, manager at Allison’s XTR station in Trout Brook, says she’s concerned about the dwindling workforce when it comes to keeping her business afloat. Still, she understands the region’s people are looking for more out of life. “You can’t take it from them – I’d be blowing this popsicle stand too,” she says.

Ouch. How dare Edwina call New Brunswick a popsicle stand? Didn’t she read her Prosperity Plan Update sent out a few months ago? Apparently not. Somebody send her a copy. We’ve had record this and record that. Record investment in blah blah blah. Lowest blah blah in 50 years. Highest blah blah in 100 years. If Edwina doesn’t see this propserity surely she is the only one?

As for me, I happen to like popsicles.

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0 Responses to Let’s blow this popsicle stand

  1. Anonymous says:

    Perhaps ‘popsicle stand’ should be the new nome de plume for the blog! After all, a central theme is that the province relies so heavily on the feds for everything. Kids run popsicle stands, all their provender is provided by their parents, and they use their parents supplies to make some spending money of their own.

    I expected this subtle change, but not so soon. I think this is more fodder for the ‘fall election’ rumours. Al sounds pretty close to being objective. Once an election call is made he’ll have to get his nose out of Lord’s butt-of course with no competition maybe he won’t.

    I’m thinking that some bloggers need to be trained in some of these rural areas to bring out exactly what is going on there. I think some blogs showing population and putting faces and stories on some of those leaving would REALLY wake up New Brunswickers.

    Of course the unfortunate part is that this provides fodder for AIMS and Business Council boys to convince New Brunswickers that ‘something’ needs to get done-unfortunately what they want to do won’t help matters-it’ll worsen them.

  2. David Campbell says:

    It would be really cool to get a few bloggers from rural NB to provide perspective – Miramichi, St. Stephen, Bouctouche, Caraquet, Bathurst, St. Leonard or some other places. I know there are some bloggers from rural NB but it’s mostly personal issues. It would be good to get the skinny on local issues – successful businesses, declining businesses, political issues, trends, observations, etc. I think rural NB will be more of a battle ground over the next 10 years than the government realizes. Most of these communities have been slowly bleeding population for years – eventually that leads to service cuts (hospitals/schools/other gov. activity) which leads to more bleeding and the cycle continues. However, at some point, community leaders will say enough is enough and start to be more vocal about economic development. We need local bloggers to serve up the skinny.

  3. Cooker Boy says:

    I see the issue being both a provincial and local councils issue? The reason I say that is because I know of 2 economic dev projects that the MLA in MCook recently brought to village council(in the last 3 years). Council rejected the ideas because they didn’t want a 40 person call center in the village, why I don’t know… especially since most cookers work in call centers today.

    I do beleive that MLA’s from each party want to see development in rural areas, but the people living in these areas need to be willing to make the sacrifices neccessary to support that development. I am not defending the goverment here, I’m just trying to illustrate that all levels of government need to be commited in order to reverse the trend.

  4. David Campbell says:

    Cooker Boy, you should be a rural economic blogger. Call it View from the Mud or some such thing. People need to know these things (like you just said).

  5. Anonymous says:

    If cooker boy is from memramcook then I second that motion. However, do you know where there is a list of those personal bloggers? In many cases some of them are open to questions, and many are looking for things to make their blogs more interesting. So perhaps it would be easier to get them to occasionally cover economic events than it would be to get people who aren’t active on the net anyway. Some bloggers are people who just sit in their basements, but some have good connections. Charitable organizations may be good places to contact as well.

    However, that response from above is an interesting one, and it goes back to the comments about democracy. Municipal governments are only a little more democratic than other levels, and only because they have smaller ‘ridings’ and no parties. Its quite well known that municipal governments are largely populated by small to medium business people.

    Of course we don’t know all the details, so shouldn’t cast stones straight away, but one can easily see why a council made up of small business people in an area with few workers wouldn’t want a larger industry player. They’d have to pay more wages and would have a tougher time getting people.

    Thats the democratic deficit again-it isn’t ‘the people’ of Mcook making that decision, it is a group of maybe five or six guys (or gals) who may have a very vested interest in the local economy.

    To return to a point of Donald Savoie’s and other economic analysts of late, it is pretty much proven that without the active participation of ALL levels of government and the community, economic development, even social development meets with limited success.

    In the states they know this full well. That’s why they have a federal government increasingly taking over all facets of local government under the guise of ‘homeland security’. This is being violently protested against all over the states, again, we just don’t see it here because of the corporate media.

    So a place like Vermont or Maine will have local decision making from the general population, and at the state level you find either statewide referenda (in Maine’s case) or else a state which will defer for the most part to the wishes of the communities (in Vermonts case).

    In the case of Switzerland it goes even higher and their federal government also rarely overrules local or cantonal governments, and those levels have total control of revenues such as taxes and fees.

    But as mentioned by Cooker boy, when you have councils run by a tiny group of people, then you dont’ WANT a province or federal government that will acquiesce to the wishes of the local government, because quite simply, all those people getting screwed over locally need ‘a higher court of appeal’ to keep the reigns on local power mongers. Of course in Canada they rarely do, in fact they often serve to enhance local powers that are detrimental to the people.

    However, if you have a government ‘by the people’, then that’s not a problem. The people of MCook are certainly not going to vote as their council did, because they are largely made up of the workers, not owners. Again, we don’t know the specifics, but this situation is pretty much epidemic in Canada, since local governments are tools of the province and have no charter existence.

    I’ll make a suggestion for this blog and those reading it, what about coming up with a ‘template’ of information that a rural (or any) blogger should or could cover. That way, the information would be easier to access. A web page could provide a local ‘overview’ of the locality, stuff from the census, etc. While a blog could cover the issues as they arise. I would donate the website space and will pay for the domain name if anybody wants to help out.

    I like the ‘local in the know’ caption, I think that transfers well to other localities. Although I don’t think the Mcook scenario is as big a problem as cooker boy may think it is-I tend to believe most communities would welcome such an investment, but I’d be keen to find out for sure.

    I’m assuming that a council meeting was held and that issue is in the record so it is easy enough to dig out. This is the kind of ‘media’ that New Brunswick needs, not one that thinks ‘news’ means how many people were killed in some accident somewhere far away, but how political and economic issues affect the society.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Just one more aside, a focus on election issues might be just the thing to kickstart it. People are far more active and looking for information during an election. New Brunswick actually has a pretty high turnout for elections, and more and more seniors are getting on the net. Heck, virtually everything you type in a search engine about New Brunswick gets you a list of Charles Leblanc’s website, so if he can do it, surely an ‘election coverage grassroots’ webring would get publicity to this badly needed area.

  7. Cooker Boy says:

    Take my post for what it’s worth. I have no factual evidence to back up the claim since it was stricly heresay from the MLA and a few other “corner store” folks. As you know rural rumours are always rampant.

    That being said, anon is right when they state that council is looking out for their best interest only.

    As for me, I’m lost to the big city lites of Moncton. I could not convince my spouse to move to a community which is steadily losing it’s population and has barely no econimic certainty. it’s sad since I remember growing up in a village with a hotel, grocery chain, hard ware store and the best sports infrastructure in NB.

    I would love to blog on my beloved boyhood community, however I wouldn’t feel right about reporting corner store riff raff I get from my friends and parents neighbors.

    I will pass along what I get.

  8. David Jonah says:

    You guys crack me up and I love this post theme and several others published among you, because this is the real New Brunswick.

    And before it is too late, we need to get the real New Brunswick of tomorrow in focus.

    I have not been as vocal in my own Blog, because I am, I now realize, or will be written off as an old Liberal Party hack, or hacker, or hackee, or something, simply dumping on a beleaguered, doing as well as he can Provincial Premier that is the essence of photo op politics and deceiving by appearances.

    But we have lost our way. Seriously.

    And what makes these posts and commentary, particularly the one quoting the small business operator trying to make it on slim margins in rural New Brunswick, more poignant to me, is the loss of optimism.

    I realize that Frank McKenna is a spent political force and now his legacy is being postulated and positioned and even promoted for posterity’s better consideration, but the truth of the matter is, during his time we thought we could do more….and often did. His personal style, and political vision of change was a tonic.

    It worked, despite all the shortcomings of political reality and leadership compromises, we were a Province committed to changing our outcome. We punched above our weight class.

    Today, we drop our gloves and with it our sense of anything is possible, so let’s try.

    The concept of getting more Bloggers is exactly right, because we need to get more voices and more narratives published and shared among more people. The reason we struggle to keep LocalintheKnow a viable, commercial platform is to be able to provide an effective, community commentary and exchange platform. A traffic funnel of enhanced awareness and visibility, if not focus and assembly of aggregate of opinion and narratives.

    These current and new Blog recruits are all about to be more widely promoted and available in every Town and City and by extension, village/LSD under our commercial market designation for advertisers. We are not perfectly funded, but we are viable and growing in traffic, audience and impact for the natural provincial advertisers than can and will want to fund a media that works for them and for their community.

    Once this new NB Blogger directory is in place and the complete community network is moving from beta rough, to beta commercial, and finally to commercial community launch ( Moncton now commercial status in summer 2006), there is no limit to the number of voices and narratives that can be added to the chorus and the choir of commentary about future-forward New Brunswick.

    We need more narrative comment and participation from every County because right now the agenda for the next election, regardless of October 2006 or 2007 date selection, is being set. And I mean set.

    Both parties and even the ever ready NDP will want to fight the election on their carefully crafted agendas, schedules, time line, photo ops and no strategy and policy oops please.

    The devaluing and devolution of New Brunswick is an un-windable campaign strategy. Hence the pontificating without substance of the current Liberal Troika.

    We need now to put forward more items that are, – as Best President Never Elected, or Tried, Al Gore postulates, an inconvenient truth about New Brunswick’s current and future developing economy. More importantly what is anyone going to do to change the outcome that we are laizzey fairing ( Sp forgiveness please), our way to, and more accurately too.

    If we don’t get this next electoral debate beyond platitudes, and the “Irving forestry triumph of forestry industry control in 3 generations +Walmarting agenda of consumerism will save us” agenda; the next election and the one after that are going to be considering a much more radical economic and politicah change agenda than anything we have seen to date.

    The only thing that prevents revolutions and people in the streets in New Brunswick is pogey and the fear of the loss of it for conduct unbecoming. When seasonal pogey is lost becauase not enough employment for stamps is in perpetual place, all peace order and good government bets are off. See North Shore soon.

    The knife of decline in fortune forward is cutting first the young, but it is coming for the seniors, and for all those who dare to fail, or fall ill in New Brunswick.

    The invitation is open to more Bloggers with more contributors, and I do not mean to say that these are solutions. Talking is not a solution or simply writing a blog will not save New Brunswick. But until the middle class comfortable lawn chair occupant and family room voter becomes engaged in sensible consideration and debate; the election will be lost to whomever runs the least flawed campaign, which is always the case in New Brunswick.

    You can bet the Irving’s love Bernard. They can even tolerate Graham the Younger, because he evokes change for the sake of change in waistband, but not in the core of how problems are solved, or industry employment levels moderated and renewed to fund to growth that benefits all New Brunswick families, not just one family.

    We need to get the middle class voter thinking and asking the hard questions and this assembly of modest Bloggers and those that can be encouraged to join the chorus, will have an impact. Tell the story of Poukmouche, Centreville, and Grand Anse.

    The Woodstock highschool graduates who can find only menial tasks and a ticket west is the new nirvana.

    Before you can change a government’s direction, you have to change the parties and before you can do that you have to change the populace and before you can do that you have to radicalize the thought process of the middle class voter comfort level induced by golf and government pensions, to recognize that is it their own ox that is going to be gored next.

    The decline we write about, fret about is masked right now, but the signs are everywhere.

    And the saddest thing I see and hear is the loss of optimism to close this comment. In ten years we have gone from promise to perform for the future we can share-in and a willingness to invest in that future, to identifying how to get more transfers from others, for less productive use of our own resources both human and natural.

    It is to weep.

    To change our outcome as a community province, we need to change our understanding, and then with this new knowledge and accountability, subsequently change those who we allow to touch the levers of political power by changing our requirements for electoral success.

    To the dumbest-down campaign, should not go the spoils of electoral victory.

    The process to change the outcome of 2006-07 and 2010 campaigns, starts here with all of you and those we can attract.

    We are doing what we can to build a community platform, invite more to join, create dialogue, demand an agenda.

    Spread the word that simply spinning a solution to get by the next vote is not enough. We need to stop spinning a convenient truth and spinning webs of deceived perceptions that all is well and get on with what is next and how can it be done.

    It is not about who should lead, it is about who understands what needs to be done and how it can be done. There is no happy face to this issue.

    New Brunswick needs a radical plan of thoughtful and strategic change now, or it will face a radical change from some other forum of forced change in the future.

  9. Anonymous says:

    I’m not going to pretend I understood all the above, however, a good bit of it. I’ve got my own angle I’m working on. A well established motto is one I heard awhile ago..

    “Pessimism of the intellect, optimism of the will”

    That means (in case it isn’t clear), dig tirelessly for the truth. It isn’t pretty, and doesn’t sound nic. The ‘optimism’ doesn’t come in saying ‘we’re number one’ like some high school hockey team. It comes from doing something.

    I’d like to stress though, don’t believe all you read from pundits and press. McKenna had a new ‘business model’ for government, it was exactly what governments were looking for, so he got good national press. He had a HUGE number of public relations people, so had even more press.

    That even succeeded in getting the feds to pay the whole shot for the NB Works program, which was FAR more lucrative to those on pogey than EI is now.

    Voters weren’t fooled, as his continuous drop in popularity showed. He was literally the Jean Chretien of New Brunswick because his continued strength came from a divided opposition.

    But don’t be fooled that somehow to ‘get on track’ we need the massive PR of the past. Optimism of the will doesn’t mean you wax poetic on successes or failures-it simply means you do something ALL the time.

    Mr. Campbell is doing plenty, more than most, and has to put food on the table. I think this blog is the perfect template, but what he does could just as easily be done by five, six or seven people. There really is no necessity to have huge massive numbers of bloggers shouting different things all the time. In fact that’s a horrible way to do it.

    Of course I can’t preach, its better than nothing, but many blogs, even economic ones, are simply ‘here’s my opinion of stuff’. Personal experiences, like the top one on SNB is invaluable, unfortunately, many bloggers don’t have enough experience of the outside world.

    Thats a roundabout way of saying, I would suggest there be one or two blogs at most for each area. The ‘election watch’ would serve as a template because it would get more people viewing at a strategic time, then they’d be more inclined to continue to read (or listen).

    An election is always useful because local politicians are less likely to brush off questions. Each riding could find out, either from the government, or opposition, how much spending goes to their riding, what investments are being made. What is needed is somebody to send the questions, which could be the same all across the province.

    I know it sounds preachy, and again its primarily motivational for me, but thats what optimism is. To steal Mr. Campbells’ line its ‘work work work’. But face it, its also fun, and its also creative and its an outlet for all the stress that derives from ‘not being able to do anything’.

    The other main benefit, which hasn’t even been addressed, is that once its set up it tends to change the existing media as it sees people turning away from it.

    I’d be interested in knowing more about the ‘local in the know’ group. My next question would be, we know that David and Alec are actually ‘economic development consultants’. That means there might well be those in similar circumstances in other cities and areas. If there is a blog list somewhere, then perhaps it can be hosted on a website that perhaps has a map of New Brunswick, divided into its ridings, and when you move the mouse over the area then the names come up.

    The next thing would be to advertise it. As I said, I’ll set up the website, even get the domain name if somebody will find a list of bloggers. I only say that to get the ball rolling, I know my opinions aren’t always popular, and the same offer extends to if somebody else wants to set it up. Once the bloggers are found, then there could be an online meeting where the style and focus are discussed. There are some bloggers who are well known to have a certain bias, if some of them are used there should be an attempt to make the information at least as ‘objective’ as possible.

  10. Anonymous says:

    The issue is that the people that NEED to read blogs do not!

  11. Anonymous says:

    That’s partly a good point. But not the whole one. Some days some blogs are better than others. Sometimes things will come out that some people simply never heard of before. That includes me. I was never politically active until I started reading about what was going on. I came across one or two blogs by accident and that connected me to a bunch of people.

    But that’s why I mentioned before that it has to go beyond the blog. Who wants to spend their spare time reading economics…let alone depressing economics. And it does come down to the fact that until there is a core of lobbyists pushing government, in essence there isn’t anything people can do.

    During an election it is different. People are seeking out information, so if you make it easy to find and understand, you’re a step ahead. A lot of people think Irving news is rubbish, but there’s no alternative. The same goes for CBC. However, a multimedia site with downloadable blogs on specific issues would be a very welcome change. In fact, if they can be entertaining, say with interviews with various people, etc., then that’s even better.

    To reach young people I think you do need a music connection. Giraffecycle is a very popular ‘meeting place’ online for Saint John.

    Checking into a blog every day certainly isn’t necessary. All people really need to know is what is going on and what they can do about it.

    Take for example Charles Leblanc’s blog. During the Saint John by election he was down there going door to door talking to people. Him and Tim Smith played a huge part in the liberal win. That lead to our new tenants rights act.

    Again, it needs to go from complaint to action. If there is no way for people to do anything, then they will not follow it. Why would they? That’s why I mention to the economic bloggers of moncton they should come up with even just one policy initiative and push it.

    For example, the one I mentioned yesterday-the inshore scallop fishery. These people in rural New Brunswick have been waiting for help forever. They’ve got a business plan as well as a business model. In an age when a fish resource could disappear at any time and there are markets everywhere, this is a valid plan-or at least can be discussed to see how to make it more valid.

    Most rural areas have such ideas, but no funding. If there is no money, again, there are always options, in fact there are more options than can be listed here so I won’t bother.

    So it isn’t necessary that people ‘read blogs’, it is necessary that they know about the issue and push their government officials on it. That can be done with brochures or speaking engagements. A video can be done on DVD and distributed to rotary clubs, Kof C, and every group around. It can be made available online.

    In fact, really it only takes one reading of Mr. Campbells to become convinced of what he says. The rest continues to validate the position, but once you accept the position the rest is gravy.

    The central point is how to get apathetic people to simply notice those facts (if they don’t know them already and I’m not convinced of that) and what they can do about it. The election is perfect for that, a website could literally become the sixth estate. In fact, I’ve noticed a fair number of economists posting to the newspapers, I think economic professors might not be a bad place to pick up bloggers. Too bad Mr. Savoie isn’t around for it:)

    However, the central problem is that ‘northern divide’. Those francophone communities we know nothing about. I liked the comment above about the only thing stopping a revolution. Remember in the nineties when they were cutting back and fishermen were torching riding offices? Who says NB’ers don’t have initiative!:)

    But keep in mind one thing-the high illiteracy rate in NB. That’s a problem for blogging, which is why I like that flash idea. There are different levels of illiteracy though, some can read enough to get by, but aren’t into whole dissertations. That’s why doing them in audio would be a great heads up.

    And finally, keep in mind the other point. When people get together to work on anything it scares the hell out of the government!