What is government for?

I have been asking myself this question off and on for a number of years now.

Take that whole Digby-Saint John ferry situation. The reality is I don’t want to debate that specific situation because I just don’t know enough about it.

However, I did react negatively to the media reports that both the NB and NS governments have no interest in ‘subsidizing’ that ferry. And, of course, the term subsidizing was put out there like the “dirty” word that it is.

Why do we have government? Why do I pay 40% of my income in taxes?

Do we want government to play a role in the development and support of transportation infrastructure in our province?

Am I wrong here? I mean they pour hundreds of millions into the highways with great fanfare. But are highways the only form of transportation infrastructure? They nickel and dime airports. They outright refuse to support upgrading the rail infrastructure (and in fact I am told they levy fairly significant taxes on the rail) even though Quebec has spent millions upgrading their rail infrastructure to facilitate more efficient rail transportation. Ports? I don’t know anything about our ports.

All I know is that they dump more and more into health care. The marginally cut taxes and are left with millions less in revenue that when spread over all taxpayers results in only a few bucks per person per month. They don’t want to support economic development.

What does government do? Specifically, the provincial government?

The NB Biz Council is railing about the lack of effort put into training the workforce. An other group a couple of days ago called for Jody Carr’s resignation over the lack of effort to train workers.

They don’t want to support transportation infrastructure beyond highways.

They have cut economic development spending and it’s now about 50% of what it was as a percentage of total budget expenditures.

They have done almost nothing to promote the use of the Internet – another kind of transportation infrastructure.

I’m not a socialist. I don’t advocate central planning and government running industries (like auto insurance). But in the 21st Century, there must be some role for government beyond health care management. There must.

Maybe I should stop reading the JK Gailbraith bio or maybe I should turn off the radio and put down the newspaper.

But at the end of the day, the collective called New Brunswick has a few overarching and very serious challenges – most of which have been debated in this forum.

That’s what I want from government.

I am so happy that Shawn Graham – at least to date – is not playing the health care card.

The Liberals will be forced to continue to dump piles of money into health care. Without structural changes (on financial and wellness) that is a given.

But abdicating all other responsibilities of government to spend all the time on health care is silly.

Ironically, I am not necessarily advocating for subsidies to the Digby thing.

Now you know how my freakish mind works.

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0 Responses to What is government for?

  1. Cooker Boy says:

    I thought you may find this Wikipedia entry interesting….

    This section is a stub. You can help by adding to it.
    The Fredericton Daily Gleaner reported on August 11, 2006 that they had asked the leaders of each party for what they thought the key issues of the campaign would be:

    Benard Lord, PC Leader: jobs, the economy, health care and senior care
    Shawn Graham, Liberal Leader: education, economic development and energy
    Allison Brewer, NDP Leader: high energy prices

    Source; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_Brunswick_general_election,_2006

  2. Anonymous says:

    Interesting thoughts, but again, socialism has nothing to do with ‘central planning’. In fact, socialism is virtually the OPPOSITE of central planning. If central planning were a characteristic of socialism, then corporations would be the most socialist structures in the world-you don’t get any more ‘central’ than the corporate world, but anybody calling corporatism ‘socialism’ has clearly fried up too many banana peels.

    To toot my familiar horn, the reality is that government today is simply expected to do what business wants. So there are nobody touting subsidies to ferries, because businesses have little use of the ferry. When it became too costly for the time delays waiting for ferries in PEI, then government was expected to spearhead the effort to get a bridge.

    You’ll notice AIMS is pushing for transportation infrastructure because there are companies that make money off them. They want investment in rails, but only in southern New Brunswick. You can quickly find out why that is if you ask who OWNS the Southern New Brunswick Railway (Irving in case you didn’t know).

    But a ferry service only benefits PEOPLE. You know the people who don’t want to drive all around, and tourists who are getting fewer in number.

    People simply don’t realize that politicians serve an economic interest. Lord did his part by bailing out the resource industries, lowering taxes, and getting the Irvings their gas terminal and starting the deconstruction of NB Power.

    Although Al Hogan tows the Lord line, Irvings themselves don’t really care who wins the election-so long as it is never the NDP. Graham’s position I suspect is to cozy up to the AIMS people and start spending money again-but only on very specific items.

    So, the ‘what is government for’ is a question that always should be asked. Currently, although more is spent on health care, don’t fool yourself into think that that somehow means ‘spending money on people’. NB has the drug friendliest health care system in the country. By far the largest increase in health care has been drugs, so much so that not only have people’s spending on drugs accelerated, but government spending is now higher for drugs (even though they pay one of the lowest percentages in the country) than it is for anything else except hospital operational costs.

    As Charles Leblanc points out frequently, even the pretty basic move to simply STUDY the issue of one drug in the school system has met with absolute refusal, even though the site frequently brings up very important facts about the ADD disorder.

    To look at another issue, we can note just how meagre the methadone program is even though drug addiction is a HUGE problem. Methadone is one of the most successful treatment programs around, yet very few people can access it.

    Once again, that’s an ECONOMIC issue, because you can’t work when you are loaded or in withdrawal.

    If you look at the drug issue you notice something else-that most of the drugs are NEW drugs for recently developed disorders. In other words, New Brunswickers are the guinea pigs for the pharma care system, yet doesn’t even benefit from any investment in health related R&D. And don’t fool yourself, just because government doesn’t do studies, these companies have close ties with doctors and watch very closely.

    In NB you can look at the lowest rates of welfare, no rights for boarding house tenants, the arrest at Atlantica of a guy who was just taking pictures, and its easy enough to see what government is for right now. What it SHOULD be for is another question entirely.

    If you look at, say, somebody like Aristotle, who essentially said that Democracy simply can’t exist without proportional equality of property, the function of government was to ensure that equality. Its been long recognized that democracy cannot exist where there is huge disparities between rich and poor, because the rich will always want to keep their stuff, and the poor will always want to take it from them.

    If the assumption is that one wants democracy,then governments function becomes fairly clear, to provide that base level of equality of property. However, that democracy is desirable isn’t accepted by all. Stalin certainly didn’t think equality of property was essential, neither does China, or even the US. But they weren’t (aren’t) that interested in enhancing democracy either.

    PS For quick info on the St.John Port, check here


    Belledune has recently been upgraded, since the feds don’t contribute, I”m assuming the province did somewhere.

  3. scott says:

    I’d rather see the government invest the money that they would spend on the Digby ferry service on better bus services connecting rural and rural fringe to the bigger urban markets (i.e. Moncton). Let’s open this baby up. We have to instill better mobility habits amongst New Brunswickers. They’ve got to know that if they live in Salisbury, Petitcodiac, Sackville or Shediac that they can depend on a reliable transit system to get to work in the city.

  4. Anonymous says:

    They already have reliable transit-its called a car. And I doubt its even necessary as those with a job in the city probably simply live in the city.

  5. scott says:

    That’s no way to expand the boundries of an already growing city anon.

    When I used to work in Ottawa during the summer in the mid ’90s, it was difficult to get a regular running shuttle/bus into the city. Many bureaucrats, environmentalist and business people complained during municiple election. Low and behold, ten yrs. later, they have one of the best transit system into the city and Barrhaven is one of the largest growing areas in Ontario.

    All i’m saying is we need to encourage people to use transit more often to get around so that they can park their vehicle. Better for the environment. Plus, it encourages people to move around more. Something that this slow moving economy needs.

  6. scott says:

    I bet you liked this one David. Once a conservative always a conservative, even if you’re posing as Liberals. lol

  7. Anonymous says:

    Moncton, St.John, and Fredericton aren’t Ottawa. Ottawa has a massive population and a SUBURBAN population large enough to make shuttle service necessary.

    Take Fredericton for example. There is still no bus service from Oromocto. It was tried at one point, but wasn’t economically viable. Today, cars are even more ubiquitous and traffic in most cities is far from obscene. Even Fredericton’s most congested traffic from New Maryland during high traffic only results in a ten minute wait on Regent Street-the only entrance.

    Rural is out of the question, although expanding suburbs may make some sense, but most cities take that into account in their regional transit (or should).

    There have been various bus services attempted in the past. Not many are very recent, however, as the blog points out, rural populations are declining, and faster are the work age denizens. It’s highly unlikely that seniors are going to need to hop on the bus daily.

    However, that’s an opinion, although based on percieved facts. Irelands traffic infrastructure shows that it’s possible. However, as the government is broke, it would have to come from deficit spending. There is also the political problem that initially, there will be nobody on the bus. That means voters see empty buses driving away their tax dollars. Also, we live under NAFTA, which means the minute the government tried to start a service like that, Greyhound or somebody would sue them.

    Yet it is an interesting idea, if there are any studies on how many people in rural areas would use such a service it would be interesting. In a rural area with high unemployment, with such studies prevalent and a government ‘incentive’, some ex school bus driver could buy a used greyhound and start the service.

    During this election it might not be a bad idea to ask how many rural people are actually interested. Their municipal governments may need some convincing, as the usual reply is “we don’t want them bused out, we want the jobs here”. However, as mentioned above, the one thing may lead to another. Having used Hamilton to Toronto’s Go Transit, I can tell you its a hell of a lot nicer to sit with a laptop on a train or bus and work or watch movies or whatever, rather than negotiate traffic in the wintertime.

    Trouble is, where does the initiative arise? Are there any transportation studies? Has anybody even checked the last census (I believe there is a section that lists mode of transportation and distance to work). With rising gas prices though, it gets even more specious. Then of course is the fact that many jobs are shift work, not regular 9-5. Yikes theres a lot working against that idea!

  8. Anonymous says:

    Oh, and doesn’t amalgamation prove that cities can extend beyond their borders? Sudbury is now the largest city (sizewise) in North America thanks to a little ‘restructuring’.

  9. David Campbell says:

    Scott has innocently raised a point that I have been preaching for a decade or more. How come New Brunswickers will drive two hours to save five buck on toilet paper (the Costco phenomenon) but we have the shortest average commute in Canada? We’ve got communities less than 1/2 hour drive from Moncton and Fredericton with unemployment rates of 15%-20% and labour shortages in the urban centres. I think one of the best ways to foster economic development is to stop looking at New Brunswick as ‘urban’ and ‘rural’. Less than 3% of the population lives more than an hour’s drive of an urban centre (as defined by Statistics Canada). If better public transportation can help that, then I’m all for it.

  10. scott says:

    Good point anonymous. However, a study is good, but some risks must be taken to initiate the process. Keeping with the status quo is just unacceptable. I’m sure that you would find that many people wouldn’t want government to invest in an expensive bike path because I’m sure numbers show that New Brunswickers are the least active of the entire country. (BC is first) So what would be the point? But if we are to change longstanding attitudes here in the province, the past id definitely not where to look as I’m not interested in a revisionist history of failure.

  11. scott says:

    David: That’s what I was trying to say, but since you presented it extremely well, there is no need to elaborate. lol

    BTW, I have read the “ED” report that you came up with for enterprise southeast. I agree with everything in there…well, maybe not with your list of influencial Allisonian since you left me off. 😉

  12. Anonymous says:

    That’s a little specious. Much of the walking trails of late have been enacted because federal investments, but mostly from private donations. Municipalities have done some, but this is mostly because of the structure of municipal politics-they are responsible for so few things that this is one of the few that they can do and point to as an accomplishment.

    To return to the real issue, those are interesting statistics, but does anybody know exactly what jobs are vacant in cities while unemployment is in the rural areas.

    Ironically, I just went to the ‘braintalent’ website to look at posted jobs, and the first five I’ve looked at are all jobs in rural (relatively) areas.

    Out of nine jobs at this site anyway, only two are in Moncton, and one is a temporary position.

    At Monster.ca, most of the jobs I’m looking at are Sportchek and Fitness Depot, in other words, retail jobs with very flexible hours making it extremely hard to schedule a bus service around, and usually featuring fairly low pay.

    There is a whole mess of real estate listing agents but of course a vehicle is mandatory for that. Many of the other positions are company sales, which again require a vehicle. Oddly enough, there are two jobs, one requiring spanish, the other requiring Korean. I”m becoming more and more convinced that our entire educational system should just be teaching languages.

    The one other standout, is one that I’ve mentioned before, and that is the cultural one. Rural areas are heavily populated with acadians, natives, and, well, farmers and fishermen.

    If you go through many of the ads, the one big standout is the introduction of the ‘ontario work ethic’. As we’ve discussed before, many people feel that working all the time is a GOOD thing, but certainly not everyone feels that way and a look at the rural, acadian and native cultures show that the only good ‘work’ that is worth doing so much is tied to the land. Having done both, I can easily attest that this is the correct outlook, though certainly not for everybody (if somebody wants to work 60 hours a week who are we to say no? The odd thing is the ideology that while people are free to work as much as they want, the reverse isn’t true)

    Just to extend the tangent, recent archaelogical evidence has anthropologists stating that native cultures in north american may have worked as little as two hours a day as their needs were so easily met. Recent digs have shown more emphasis on games than they have on what we would call work or war tools.

    That’s a big fact that is easily evidenced by AIMS demand of ‘labour mobility’ and being just too damn ‘generous’ to people when we should be getting them the hell out of there and out west where they can work those lovely 12 hour shifts.

    That’s the trouble with ‘risk taking’. If some individual or company doesn’t see the opportunity in buying a bus, why would anybody think the government is better off doing it?

    A good study would be to check out one of those roads to a rural area and check out how many cars come down it and when. There at least are your potential customers. Perhaps some contact should be made with some university or business classes. When I took marketing, we could choose anything for our business plans, which resulted in a whole bunch of idiotic ideas by students who were in their first year so didn’t know any better.

    But if anybody is waiting for government to do this stuff, I hope you really enjoy griping, because its going to be a long while coming.

  13. to it and at it says:

    > we have the shortest
    > average commute in
    > Canada

    You’ve mentioned this a few times.

    So you want me to make an Ontario-style commute while earning New Brunswick money?

    If I’m going to waste 2 hours a day in my car, why not do it in Toronto and make decent money? (I’d be able to afford a nicer car with a better stereo, at least.)

  14. scott says:

    So you want me to make an Ontario-style commute while earning New Brunswick money?

    Not what’s being said here. What I said is that I would like to see a service for those who may want to take full advantage of the economy here in NB. If that means jumping on a bus in Shediac to work in Moncton. So be it. We all have to start somewhere, and as you know, one thing may lead to another. Who knows?

    But the full potential of our economy will never be realized unless the province exhaust all its options. And the option I’m speaking of here is creating top notch infrastructure to sustain a world class economy. That is all.

    If I’m going to waste 2 hours a day in my car, why not do it in Toronto and make decent money?

    If you hadn’t noticed that has been done in spades. Though I understand your point, if you really want to know, I view that as a cop[ out or surrendering to defeat. NB doesn’t need anymore people promoting failure or “I could just leave to Ontario” attitude. Let me tell you I was just there and a few of my former colleagues were begging me to come back. Not interested. I want to stay and fight. But don’t get me wrong, I do understand where you’re coming from.

    I just want to see this province do better. That is all.

  15. Anonymous says:

    People are people, there’s no point in slinging arrows. I’m not going to go to Alec Bruce’s kids and call them cop outs because there are no opportunities in New Brunswick.

    But the point is to not have an ideas that aren’t backed up by facts. By ‘economic development’ do we mean busing people from Shediac to Moncton? How many people even make the commute?

    If enough people make the commute, then why isn’t carpooling being done, especially with gas prices so high?

    Will that create a demand? The idea seems to be that people will move to Shediac to take advantage of the services, but do the people in Shediac even want that? If you look at the New Hampshire-Vermont border, far more growth goes on in NH, but partly because citizens have a real choice in their politics and the people in Vermont simply don’t want growth-so are we prepared to say, like Kissinger “why should we stand around and let people vote communist”, except in this case its growth.

    If the demand is there, why aren’t there buses? Will a bus service actually change people’s behaviour-as said, you can have a hell of a lot better time with a stereo or DVD player on a bus than in a car where you have to drive.

    But the jobs don’t appear to show it. The labour market, at least at first glance, appears to want flexible schedules and needs people with cars. That’s the reality. So the next step if for all you economic developers out there to actually look at some routes to see if its viable. In case you didn’t recognize, government doesn’t do ANYTHING without a private sector interest, in fact it CANT.

    So waiting for government means endless blogging about what might have been. I’ve been looking around at old buses and they actually aren’t that pricey. One would think with the gas problems that this would be a good idea, and perhaps it is and nobody has thought of it. In a rural area a retired school bus driver could start it up, perhaps even start it as a volunteer thing.

    I would assume that the department of transportation keeps some kind of statistics. Actually, a shuttle of some kind from the Cruise docks to Moncton isn’t a bad idea.

    I suspect the chief problem is that in NB, there are people who have money and don’t really care, and the people who would actually do these things have no money to start them up. A classic catch 22. It USED to be the job of the government to overcome those obstacles, but as said, it’ll be a cold day in hell before that happens. But honestly, has anybody even contacted anybody in a rural area to see if this is desirable? Otherwise, it seems a pointless debate over starting a service nobody is interested in.

  16. scott says:

    One would think with the gas problems that this would be a good idea, and perhaps it is and nobody has thought of it. In a rural area a retired school bus driver could start it up, perhaps even start it as a volunteer thing.

    I know that Peter Meshaeu’s brother, Shawn, started up a shuttle service from Sackville to Moncton. (gov’t funded I suspect-yet just sepculation) It ended up that it was not profitable as the only interested parties were old women with no licenses needing to go to Moncton for medical reasons. (did I just uncover another problem. lol) Anyway, I like your idea (even though you sound sceptical) and I think it would be wise to try a pilot project. Let me know where the old buses are that you’re talking about? I know there were a few old Greyhounds sitting behing Bond’s transfer in Sackville. They are still in good shape on the exterior.

    I suspect the chief problem is that in NB, there are people who have money and don’t really care,…

    You identified the chief problem my friend. People don’t care enough about making this province better. (sorry for the generalization as i know there are people out there making a difference like yourself and many others ) I don’t know, it is a depressing subject to talk about sometimes. Let’s hope we aren’t sitting around three to ten years from now talking the same shit. I guess that would still give S Graham nine years to fullfill his promise for economic self-sufficiency. lol

    BTW, there is some sort of bus service in Port Elgin which was initiated under the Layton budget. Not sure of the specifics, but it was put in place for reasons we are discussing above. Maybe you have heard more about this?

  17. MonctonLandlord says:

    Is there private companies looking to buy the Digby Ferry?

    Probably not, would be nice to know if Onyx could buy it, beef-up the marketing, change the management, optimize the scheduling, and make it profitable, then sell it in 7 years.

    One question for the people, is the ferry a business or a service?

    If it is a business, sounds like it is not making as much money as it used too. If it is a service, a service to whom? Why not have a second ferry going from Saint John to NFLD, that would be a cool service for some, wouldn’t it? The question is where does govt put a cap on subsidies? Seams like the cap is not defined.

  18. Anonymous says:

    The ferry from Saint John is a private company, in fact its the same company that runs ‘The Cat’ from Maine-Yarmouth as well as the Nova Scotia-Wood Islands ferry, and I think one more. This is now an international company, “The Cat” isn’t operational in the winter so they lease it down south and do runs in the Caribbean.

    The NB-NS ferry simply isn’t profitable, thats it. It used to be run, like other ferries, by government when they didn’t NEED to make a profit, but those days are gone. It is simply up to the company whether they continue or not, in fact, they could well discontinue it if it was making profit-just not ENOUGH profit.

    Whether they’d sell it is completely up to them. I suspect the company wanted to lose this route for a long time, being centred in Nova Scotia may have something to do with it. However, about a decade a go they restructured and prices went through the roof. The marketing strategy was clearly to get tourists who just wanted a boat ride. I had debated going on it once, but I remember the cost was about three times what it would cost for gas to drive it, so why bother? The new highway makes it that much more redundant.

    To toot a familiar horn, if ferries were actually in favour of growth, an agreement could be reached for the Cat to work as a sort of cruise ship. Nova Scotia’s idea is of course to get it from Maine to Nova Scotia as quick as possible, but a once a day stopover in NB would have been nice-again, if we were actually one functioning country which actually cared about other provinces. However, keep in mind that as this company grows, other more prosperous areas are going to need ferry service, and the border crossing/exchange rate may well mean lots fewer americans making the trip, so nobody is really safe.

    Back to the buses, since we’re doing a mini business proposal, I can understand Sackville not being viable-and once again, it unfortunately comes down to ‘who you know’. I checked Shediac, and there we have over 2000 people who take their vehicles to work. Only about half though, fall into categories that may be headed for Moncton.

    I don’t think the bus is viable at all, the point, like the ferry, is that they have to not only accomplish what they exist for, but also must accomplish something in the economic development field. In other words, the transportation needs to be accompanied by somethign else that serves a function.

    For example, I read about a town that was busing in students, and since it was a fair distance, the bus had a teaching assistant on board and the half hour trip let them teach half a class.

    So if it accomplishes something similar, like some public good or something, then it becomes viable because it serves two purposes. I don’t know what, but usually those kinds of details come out when people get involved.

    As for the wealth generation, I remember reading about Pittsburgh in the 1970’s and 80’s and what a steel shithole it was. Then the wealthy people of the area really got together and revitalized it.

    Not to point fingers, but we have two VERY wealthy families, whose contributions are nowhere near the benefits they have obtained from the province.

    However, we still don’t have provincial bonds, which is absolutely ludicrous. A province with a triple a credit rating could also tie the bonds into taxes, giving people a rebate for their investment.

    I know it is unpopular, but the fear of deficit spending and debt is also a barrier to growth. When you go into business you take a risk, and that usually means you go into hock. If you live in a province where there isn’t enough faith in the future that you are willing to run a deficit, that clearly is not a motivational agenda. It basically says “sure we’re not growing, but at least we’re not in debt”. Well, every freaking country in the world is in debt, and most of the provinces, including Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick certainly isn’t carrying away any records.

  19. Anonymous says:

    Sorry, “Bay Ferries” is actually a PEI company, here’s a blurb

    Bay Ferries Limited (“Bay”) and Northumberland Ferries Limited (“NFL”) are wholly owned subsidiaries of NFL Holdings Ltd of Charlottetown Prince Edward Island. NFL Holdings is a private company owned by thirty (30) individuals, most of whom are descendents of four (4) families who originally founded the business in 1941. The founding principles of safety, efficiency, quality, community and innovation remain the cornerstone of our corporate philosophy today.

    NFL was incorporated in 1939 in Halifax and commenced operating the Wood Islands, Prince Edward Island to Caribou, Nova Scotia ferry service in 1941. This company has continued its eight (8) month per year operational contract with Transport Canada to this date. For over 60 years, we have continuously provided safe and reliable ferry services between Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia.

    Bay had a successful beginning April 1, 1997 on the Bay of Fundy, having been chosen as the successful proponent to take over the Bay of Fundy services previously operated by Marine Atlantic. This followed a formal Request for Proposals conducted by the Government of Canada in which local and international companies participated.

    The Saint John – Digby service has been operated since 1997 with the mv PRINCESS OF ACADIA which was recently the subject of an extensive renovation. The mv PRINCESS OF ACADIA is a conventional ferry which serves a combination of local, touring and commercial truck traffic.

  20. Anonymous says:

    Back to buses, I just found this, as you’ll notice, the ‘free market’ is not ‘free’:

    An application was made by Joseph and Karen Sullivan of Kensington, Prince Edward Island to operate a scheduled bus service in the Province of New Brunswick as follows: “For the carriage of passengers and their baggage as a scheduled operation from Prince Edward Island to New Brunswick and return with the right to pick up and drop off passengers in the municipalities of, Port Elgin, Shediac, Sackville, Moncton, Salisbury, Petitcodiac, Oromocto and Fredericton, but without the right to pick up or drop off enroute, using two 15 passenger vans.”

    The grant of the application was opposed by S.M.T. (Eastern), Limited (SMT) which is the major provider of both scheduled and charter bus services in the Province.

    In his application and under cross-examination by SMT, Mr. Sullivan stated his intention to have a license for a scheduled service. Mr. Sullivan proposes to operate his vehicles on the basis of pre-booked tickets. He will offer his service to selected communities on an as called-on bas

    This Board is able to grant two types of licenses for public motor buses. They are scheduled and irregular, or charter, licenses.

    Advanced Shuttle, the applicant, does not meet the criteria for either kind of motor carrier license. If anything, it is closer to a scheduled service than a charter service. SMT provides a scheduled service between all of the points to be served by the proposed license, but between terminals and not personalized stops. This Board has repeatedly found that it was in the public’s interest to protect the existing scheduled carrier, SMT.

    The Board recognizes that Mr. Sullivan has identified a market niche with offering door to door service, which does not meet the criteria of either a scheduled service or a charter service. The Motor Carrier Act, in its present form, does not allow for such a hybrid to be permitted in the province. The application is denied.

  21. Anonymous says:

    So there you have it as far as the bus idea goes, I guess we can drop it now. There IS a Shediac to Moncton bus, but its only once a day, and it leaves at three in the afternoon.

    As the above points out, you can’t operate a bus service in the same route as SMT, no matter how pathetic their service.

    The remaining question is-is it possible to get them to change their schedule. What is the criteria of their license, and when is it renewed. Unfortunately, this seems another dead end to an idea.

    You can go to SMTbus.com to see all their schedules. I think I saw at Charles Leblanc’s site that the bus gets to the Ferry terminal in Saint John three hours before the ferry. I noticed that unlike when I went to school there is a bus that goes from Oromocto to Fredericton three times a day, but all at bizarre hours, no early morning runs at all. Did somebody mention the problems in NB being depressing?

  22. David Campbell says:

    Well, that’s quite a thread guys. I’ll add a couple of points: 1) I don’t want ‘Toronto-style commutes at New Brunswick wage rates’. I do want people who have for quality of life reasons decided to live in Port Elgin or Elgin or Harvey or the other Harvey or Nequac or Bouctouche to not expect their job, their health care, their schools, their retail stores and their hair dressers to be located within a 300 metre radius of their house. If we choose to live in rural areas (and my wife keeps twisting my arm), we need to realize there will be a wider commute. So I am not telling a fisherman to work in retail in Moncton but I am saying we need to be more thoughtful about these issues. The dreaded Allsco put on their own bus to Albert County to bring workers into their plant in Moncton. Secondly, on the broader point of government and transportation infrastructure – it cannot and must not just be about ‘cost’. Investment in all forms of transportation infrastructure has to be set in broader economic, social and yes, even environmental considerations.

  23. Anonymous says:

    True, but the whole bus issue is now moot. A company can do this, and perhaps the more feasible ‘lobby’ idea is to provide tax or other incentives to companies to do exactly that. You’re never going to get the Transport license changed, SMT is way too powerful and will just threaten to cut off ALL current services. That’s the joys of a monopoly.

    I don’t know whether Allsco is still running the bus, but they got some money from the province, so it is subsidized to an extent.

    That brings it up to the issue mentioned above, that it needs to address more than ‘cost’. As legislation stands now it CANT address more than cost, and again, legislation doesn’t change unless people get involved.

    The question is, how many rural areas want this as part of their infrastructure? The busing issue seems a big one and should be put on the election map. If you live in Oromocto and work or more likely, go to school in Fredericton, having a bus leave at 10 AM is completely retarded and doesn’t meet the needs of anyone. I am fortunate to even be here, as my university days were spent biking the 20 KM on a dark highway with semi’s going by about five feet away.

    The bus service ALREADY exists for most places, so it becomes a point of either subsidizing SMT to improve service, or else changing the legislation so that others can compete. That’s a problem because then it is not about cost either, because any subsidies going to the other fellow will be fought by others.

    I’m not sure here, but once again I think SMT is now owned by a Quebec company, which makes it that much harder to improve service. At least when Irving owned it the argument could be made that Irving has already made billions from the province and owes it some decent economic service. I suspect they knew that,which is why they unloaded it. However, you will note that in towns that have them, the buses still all stop at Irving stations. A nice little perk for the Irvings.

    I suspect an ‘improve bus service’ appeal during an election would have a LOT of rural support, but that’s not where the people are, so again, it depends on urban taxpayers to say “Yes I think this is a good thing and I’ll help pay fo r it” That’s US people.

    People with cars or who live in cities obviously will not support it, which is why it needs to become a political issue. No doubt this is another reason why the parties only want THREE issues discussed during the election, one of which has nothing to do with policy anyway.

  24. Anonymous says:

    There is one other potential solution I hadn’t thought of, and that is to incorporate an urban idea into rural areas. High school students HAVE to use a bus, as many rural high schools have been closed. I’m not sure exactly how many there are, however, if you had legislation that enabled regular folk to take the school bus, or more feasibly, updated school buses to regular buses then that’s feasible. In urban areas kids that are far from school get vouchers and take the city’s bus, so reversing that idea could be quite an option.

    It’s been a long time so I don’t know what the crowds are like on school buses, but enabling others to take it seems like a no brainer as long as there are seats. Anybody know how to find out about school bus routes?

  25. scott says:

    Not moot by a long shot. I was thinking more in the lines of OC Transpo scheduling in Ontario. No, NB is not Ontario, but the similarities between urban and rural and the way the set their bus schedules accordingly is an excellent example to go by. For example, in areas where there is less demand and less population, say Richmond (just outside of Ottawa), they run a service in the early morning hours (twice) and after working hours (twice). That is not very frequent as the buses usually run every 15 minutes in areas where the demand is there. This allows a spouse, whose husband may be using the car to get to Kanata for his IT job, to get to work without worry or stress (it gives her freedom to make choices). Contrary to statistics, some people just can’t afford two cars…even in Ontario. Also, it allows those who are in a bachelor/bachelorette situation, without a car, to explore opportunities to better their themselves. Like I said, one thing leads to another and you have to start somewhere.

    I checked Shediac, and there we have over 2000 people who take their vehicles to work. Only about half though, fall into categories that may be headed for Moncton.

    I think you are missing my point. There is no statistic on how many people could benefit from this service as I’m pretty confident they have never been asked. As David has pointed out, we have some of the highest levels of unemployment in the country. Do you not, for one second, believe they would like to get off welfare and EI where they have a new beginning and hope. Maybe they wouldn’t?? I don’t know? But we have to cxonvince these people to take a job, instead of assistance, because it could lead to more wealth, training and a better quality of life down the road. Keeping with the status quo hurts both the individual drawing state assistance and the state itself. In other words, i would like to see this dependency turned on its proverbial head. I want to give opportunity to individuals who, at the moment, have no means of getting to and from a job interview. I want to give opportunity to spouses who don’t have access to two vehicles. Is that so much to ask? IMHO, not having the proper infrastructure to sustain a healthy market is like sending a kid to the rink without his/her skates. They need the tools to succeed.

    As the above points out, you can’t operate a bus service in the same route as SMT, no matter how pathetic their service.

    Not what I had in mind. I thought it would be better if we worked at extending the Moncton Codiac transit routes to accomodate rural areas that would normally be out of range of bus transportation. In other words, send a bus from midtown Sackville to Moncton along the old route (HWY-106) passing Dorchester, Memramcook and eventually the other side of the airport and Dieppe.

    Remember, as you are well aware, there has been 0 research put into this proposal so it is all just a thought. Not sure how juristictions work with regards to municipal transit? etc? etc?

  26. scott says:

    Also, I guess I would rather see our province have better commuting habits so we don’t fall into traps like over in PEI when Ocean Choice, the Island lobster processor, had to hire Russian workers for its plant in Souris as hundreds of unemployed fish plant workers in Atlantic Canada were not interested in making the commute for the poor wages they would receive. In other words, they would rather draw EI and welfare then make the commute. It is a scary rut to fall into because after awhile you may not want to ever work again. It’s easy to collect money, well maybe not that easy, for nothing. Although, I am convinced many would rather be doing something productive in hopes of bettering their financial situation and lifestyle.

    We all remember here in 1999 when laid-off fish plant workers in Petit-Rocher refused to commute on a free-of-charge, 90-minute bus to work at an unstaffed plant. They called on the government to establish make-work programs closer to their home. This attitude has to change. I think they feel there is no longterm hope for wealth, training and a better quality of life. We must convince all New Brunswickers that there is hope for them and there children. We have to break this vicious cycle.

  27. Anonymous says:

    That’s true, you MIGHT be able to set up a route in a rural area not serviced by SMT. They would challenge it anyway, I guarantee it, but I think the rest of the post says it all. That’s the danger of tailoring economic development toward ideologies and not facts.

    It certainly isn’t surprising that those who collect EI wouldn’t be willing to be bused an hour to a job where they make little more. So here’s a thought, what about making it a LOT more? That hasn’t even been addressed.

    And keep in mind that english canada has a VERY specific media slant on these items. There is a very specific way they are spun, usually by talking to only one or two in the area, in order to get that ‘justification’.

    But it does come down to that ideology, that we MUST get these people off EI and government payments. My simple reply is …why? Why in one of the wealthiest countries in the world when EI posts annual profits more than ten times greater than NB’s surplus is that a problem?

    Why, when Irving, McCain, the biggest most wealthiest companies and people are permanently stuck on the welfare teat subtracting billions is this a problem?

    Why, when a look at BNB’s website, and just about every company that has an export angle sucks out subsidies is this such a problem?

    Let’s say for example that it IS a huge problem, that for some reason some few people getting thousands from the FEDERAL government is this huge problem. The thing would be to actually pay attention to what these people, or at least their representatives are asking for.

    So again, it makes little sense to subsidize a rural bus route for people, yet refuse to subsidize something like the inshore scallop fishery, where people can actually work close to home. If there were NO opportunities in rural areas, that would be one thing,but just go around looking at presentations to wood supply committees, fishery committees and even ED committee and there are lots of investments that these people simply can’t get off the ground.

    So I can well imagine some guy in Petit Rocher saying “why in hell won’t you invest in an inshore fishery when you’ll invest in a bus service so that our workers can do construction in Miramichi or Bathurst?”

    But as said, as far as busing goes, as it stands, the cities DO have concrete boundaries and can’t simply start offering services anywhere they like. The Fredericton bus service can’t start going to Oromocto-even if it wanted to and had tons of passengers. THAT is the reality.

    Harvey would be different, but the last population had them at less than 400. And this is not Ontario, rural people are far different than suburbanites, even if they are relatively close. There is far more self sufficiency and doing without than you see outside many Ontario cities which are close to huge populations.

    Research is fine, but again, if we have money to subsidize-why not just listen to what they want the subsidies for.

  28. scott says:

    So again, it makes little sense to subsidize a rural bus route for people, yet refuse to subsidize something like the inshore scallop fishery, where people can actually work close to home.

    I would rather see more investement in education at the secondary school level (so we can train kids in new technologies) as well as more FDI into cities like Moncton, Saint John and Freddy. Though I have nothing against investment in the “inshore fishery”, I believe that many who are in the trade are looking to get out. As well, many of the next generation don’t want to take it on. So there lies reality. Do we gear are economy towards struggling industries or do we invest in cutting edge industries? If we chose to do the latter, than we must prepare our children to work inthese new industries while, at the same time, attempt to attract them to New Brunswick.

    And there lies why we must have leading edge infrastructure in this province. Because when things start to turn around and people, as well as immigrants, begin to chose NB as an option, there must be sufficient train and bus services for these people to get to and from their choice of employment. Not everyone has a drivers licence, vehicle, etc. when they first enter the workforce. We must use all our options to accomodate potential investors and residents.

    FYI(correction): When referring to EI claimants and welfare recipients–these are only some who may benefit from public transit as a means to get to work. As I said in my last thread, there are many other examples of those who require assistance to get to work.

    I said before, public transit isn’t luxurious, but we have to start somewhere…plus, another car off the street means less Co2 emmissions. Just because the numbers aren’t there to support this notion right now, doesn’t mean it should not be addressed. If we always went by the way things are currently (status quo) then i am certain you could find many reasons to crush good initiatives. Much like when Peter Mesheau said our urban population base was too small to attract a business like RIM. I’m tired of these lame ass excuses.

  29. Anonymous says:

    Well, thats probably why you havent been elected. Saying things like “I believe many want to get out” is hardly smart thinking for economic development.

    If people work in the towns where they live, thats even LESS co2.

    As you mention Ottawa often Im assuming you lived there, and so Im assuming you spent some time in grocery stores. My brother is in the grocery trade and one of the highest profit margins is on Digby Scallops. Ive got news for you, the oceans are in rough shape, and an inshore scallop fishery run by people with generations of experience sells out a call centre in Moncton for reliability every time.

    So to say “were not going to fund your inshore fishery because we think its a dying industry (though statistics prove otherwise) and we think your kids think your retarded and would far rather answer phone questions for Rogers or Microsoft.

    Not only does that not make political sense, it doesnt even make economic sense. An inshore fishery isnt going to employ everybody, which is why there is a tourist angle as well, which will provide summer jobs for students. These people will have income, which means their kids can get a decent education.

    If you want to head to these towns to convince them they are better off commuting to Moncton, Fredericton, or Saint John, good luck. It isnt surprising that part of the process seems to be FORCING them to do this. Fortunately, its just another message in a blog and not political reality.

  30. scott says:

    So to say “were not going to fund your inshore fishery because we think its a dying industry (though statistics prove otherwise) and we think your kids think your retarded and would far rather answer phone questions for Rogers or Microsoft.

    That is not my focus here. I think that if they are trained properly, as I said in the thread above, then they will be able to ascend to higher employment than call centre work—which is generally geared toward people with at least hs education and sometimes lower. But let’s be honest, it doesn’t matter how great the education system
    is unless there are solid opportunities to go after post graduation.

  31. Anonymous says:

    That’s very true. With no medical schools, no decent graduate programs so no R&D for ANY industry that’s a moot point.

    But thats a different issue. The point is that inshore fisheries are HUGE industries which have great potential, particular once ocean stocks are gone. How many products will ontarian pay $15 per bag for 200 grams of product? Not many.

    But just because you don’t LIKE resource industries doesn’t mean there’s no money in it. Irving and McCain have proven far otherwise. An inshore fishery takes scientists to run, which is where education comes in and many good jobs for the kids, as well as parents.

    That other great expensive resource-lobsters, may well be next. THese are viable industries which are supported up the wazoo when they are in the bay of fundy, just check out Alec Bruce’s ‘codmasters’ thread.

    Also, having jobs elsewhere is STILL just another kind of dependance. And I guarantee city folk would be the first to gripe when their tax dollars are going to bus service for other communities to take their jobs.

    Also, the moral issue of equality. A Woodstock company just got millions to hire more people in St. John. They are in broadband, a ‘high tech’ industry. There’s one problem. A court ruling is expected that will demand Rogers and Bell provide services to rural areas, which will effectively put these guys out of business.

    Also, with jobs IN, say, Petit Rocher, there money stays there. People are far more willing to invest in something local than something in Miramichi or Moncton.

    Also, there is the fact that with investment in what people are asking for, you are no longer quite as culpable for their decline. Connected to the bus route and city job sector, they are attached to a different umbilical cord and dependant on the city. However, if you invest, and it goes belly up, you can justifiable say that you tried (though it depends on a lot of details)

    Those are just a few of the reasons for investing differently than the above posts suggest. There is quite a difference between TELLING taxpayers how you will service them, and ASKING them, or in this case, simply doing as they ask.

    Keep in mind the majority of fish research is done in southern ontario, often hours away from any bodies of water. Government is not going to invest if the infrastructure is not there, they need somebody to invest IN