Awaking the beast

Poor old journalists have likely been the target of the majority of my consternation over the 2.5 years I have penned this blog and the 15 years I have been dusting off the old soap box on a daily basis.

I have labeled them disinterested, superficial and even flippant when it comes to the serious state of the New Brunswick economy. I used terms such as ‘government press release transribers’ to characterize a lot of stories dealing with economic matters.

Maybe there’s a bit of a detente coming between the NB press core and myself.

First, you’ve got columnists such as Alec Bruce in the T&T several times a week pushing for a pause, rewind and slowly play back the issue and think through its implications (consider his piece this week on the Conference Board and their obsession with big cities).

Now we have the TJ’s David Shipley who seems to be in a bit of a holy discontent over the state of things. He’s got a piece this morning entitled “Lessons from fall and rise of Lunenburg” which reads as a feel good story about a small community taking control of its economic development, attracting industry (EADS subsidiary) and fostering a quality of life that encourages talented young people to stay (animation firm HB Studios).

Of course, my positive opinion towards Shipley has something to do with him quoting a few of my table stakes positions on economic development (NB needs to spend 5% of its budget on economic development for one).

But the point remains. Shipley and the TJ could have ran another story on traffic congestion or the onerous toll on the bridge in Saint John or some other point that admittedly has some newsworthiness but at the same time ignores the 800 pound gorilla in the room – the seriousness of economic decline in New Brunswick.

And, as I have always said, the media has a critical role to play. The people won’t know if someone doesn’t tell them. It’s not always obvious when you are in a slow burn that you are burning. Remember the frog. Put him in a beaker of hot water and he will jump out. Put him in a beaker of cold water and then warm it up to boiling and he will stay into until his demise.

New Brunswick is the frog in the beaker and the temperature is well on the plus side of comfortable.

So to Shipley, Morrison, Poitras, Bruce, et. al. keep reminding us of this fact and maybe, just maybe, we’ll decide to jump out of the beaker.

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0 Responses to Awaking the beast

  1. Anonymous says:

    First off, that’s totally untrue about the frog, that’s one of those stories that was made up to prove a point, when the reality isn’t even there. Now, I’d almost say that some PEOPLE are that dumb, but certainly not frogs.

    Second, notice that Alec Bruce’s columns are not yours. City editors like Hogan LOVE articles which grouse about how Moncton gets slighted by other media, politicians or federal bodies. That’s always good fodder because that also increases the home brand. There’s nothing like instilling a sense of community like developing that bunker mentality: “those big mean feds are out to get US people!”

    Keep in mind also that more press for the ‘necessities’ of economic development were predicted around the time Irving made their first announcements. There’s no way the words ‘energy hub’ are going to get St.Johners on board massive new levels of pollution and one family ownership.

    So people have to be ‘scared’ into thinking economic development is absolutely necessary, and lo and behold, here’s a great big economic opportunity and all that has to be done is accept more pollution and maybe some tax concessions and bounty and good things (namely some jobs) will all be yours St. John!

    So I have a feeling that what you are saying is going to recieve far more press in St.John than elsewhere, however, Irving of course couldn’t care less about that 5%, it doesn’t help them any but they know its unlikely so it doesn’t hurt to say it.

    However, the IDEA of economic development as a panacea IS in their interest, they need New Brunswickers, and St.Johners in particular, to think that an oil refinery is downright necessary, but if not that, then at least highly desirable. And you don’t get that by saying ‘everything is wonderful’.

  2. Anonymous says:

    I agree with anon 910. Its always been my in my thought process to think the opposite of what the Irving papers write and this makes me damned suspicious when they actually publicise the positive side of entrepreneurial intent. What are they after??? is the usual question I ask but in this case I already know!

  3. mike says:

    Actually Irving WOULD love that 5% to go into economic development because of course a refinery is economic development. Awhile ago one poster here, or somewhere, even wondered aloud how much money the government should be giving Irving for the refinery plum.

    So if 5% of the budget were to go to ED, and there were no other big takers, suddenly the refinery is looking good for that $300 million.

    Since there is no interest in talking about it anywhere else, I just thought I’d mention that I think I can state what some of that new technology will be at the refinery, and no doubt they could get some technology grants for it.

    Namely, if you recall, Irving took the government to court to get all their back taxes on their storage tanks. Since the oil must be ‘stirred’, Irving claimed that it was part of the manufacturing process, not storage. Storage is taxable, manufacturing is not.

    They lost that case, so who wants to be that the new refinery will be built with no, or little, actual storage but will be ‘time delivered’ so that they will pay no taxes on it. Once again, that’s worth a tax bonus right there, so people may want to pay pretty close attention to those blueprints when they come out, because I’ve a feeling the tax coming in from it won’t be nearly as much as from the current refinery.