Irving thinking

A lot of people, including me, were wondering why the Irving-owned media has been so hostile in its reporting of the Portage Vale residential resort project (except one article yesterday in the TJ). Now, it seems more clear. J.D. Irving, Limited holds the 25-year licence, renewable every five years, for all or part of the Crown parcel. Apparently, the Crown can give Irving rights to cut on other land.

Now, here is the Minister’s comment. Remember, this is the ‘self-sufficiency’ government:

“I want to make it clear there is no done deal by far,” he said. “Don’t expect a bulldozer to come in this summer as get to work.”

He does go on to say that “the project has incredible promise for the area, but it has to follow “every letter” of the process“.

I have tried to take a nuanced view of the Irving empire in this blog and in my professional dealings over the years even as many of the people that I trust and admire told me story after story of how this family has stifled business, investment, innovation and even free speech in the province. I try to balance the monopolistic and predatory actions of the empire against the jobs and economic activity they bring to the province.

But I may be changing my view. Events in the past few months, conversations had and other signs (including the incessant drumbeat in the comments to this blog) are giving me pause.

The problem is that all the so-called negative influences of the Irvings are anecdotal. I have yet to see any real journalism on the subject (even in the non-Irving media). There are no books on the subject (at least recent that I can find). Only bloggers and numerous anecdotes served with coffee and a crueller.

Why won’t anyone actually write an investigative – and balanced – book on the subject of the Irvings and their influence on the province’s development over the years? I would dearly love to see this and I think that hundreds if not thousands of other people would as well.

I do think that the English print media concentration in New Brunswick is downright spooky. Are there any other examples in the world where a province/state’s virtually entire suite of dailies, weeklies and community papers are owned by one entity – and a massive conglomerate at that? You might argue that if an external entity like CanWest or Transcontinental operated all the newspapers it might be less suspicious but an entity that is involved in almost every industrial sector in the province?

Done for now.

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0 Responses to Irving thinking

  1. Anonymous says:

    Now what kind of crazy left wing media conspiracies you talking about now? What are ya, some kind of punk anarchist??!!

    Yes, this should be quite interesting because with high unemployment everybody naturally assumed that government and media were always just ‘business friendly’. That’s no surprise given who owns media and donates to politicians all over North America and western europe.

    However, as they say, the ‘chickens are coming home to roost’. So now its becoming clear that its not ‘business friendly’, its ‘Irving friendly’. That’s not surprising because keep in mind this stuff is a given to most people, but since there is only one media we just never hear about it.

    To attack that question though, the problem is that they are a private company, simple as that. Even public corporations and even private corporations are extremely secretive, and as it turns out, lots of their numbers turn out to be fictitious. So with a private company who owns all the press, well, its obvious why its so hard to find information-where can you go to find it?

    CBC does a mediocre job there, just go to the CBC website and type in irving and you’ll find all sorts of goodies. Academic stuff is more rare, partly because, face it, there is little interest in New Bruswick out there to begin with and the province seems to favour that.

    But lots of it is common sense, whether people put it together or not is another question. So when its discovered that Bernard Lord is getting a salary from his party as well, but people can’t find out who party donors are, well, it doesn’t take THAT much introspection to wonder who can pony up $70,000 every year just for the Premier.

    In industry though they don’t operate markedly different from other industries, and in some cases, say, forestry, they are the ‘best of a bad bunch’. Irvings were actually way ahead of the times on many business practises, which as I’ve said before, makes New Brunswick one of the most ‘free market’ areas around. Regulations are a joke, and the government will bend over backward for BIG industry, unless of course they cross Irving. If this deal were in northern New Brunswick it would be printed far differently, however, not TOO glowingly because people might get the bright idea that “hey, maybe we SHOULDN”T just wipe out our forests and hand them to Irving, UPN and Frasier”

    There are studies done, but again, who controls the media? What New Brunswick really needs is somebody like Noam Chomsky who would be reading all the arcane governmetn publications that nobody bothers with.

    That’s starting to change, and the anti-atlantica group has started making more access to information requests. Whether they’ll get anywhere with them is another question.

    I’ve always been surprised at the CBC, with such a fountain of great stories that the Irvings and McCains have at their disposal, whenever I hear that a CBC journalist has written a book about…Bernard Lord?…it always makes me wince. My only suspicion would be that if you work for the CBC you never know how LONG you’ll work for the CBC, and that Irving will sue at the drop of a hat.

    But if you wrote “Economic Effects of Corporate Concentration” then I suspect that nobody would ever hear of it. How you’d make that ‘exciting’ I don’t know. I know a guy has a site called but its pretty much died away even as things got interesting.

    I’ve always suspected that Irving and the government rammed through the LNG terminal deal so fast because the CBC was on strike at the time, so it was a golden opportunity to control all the press, and as suspected, nobody ever made mention of the amount of cash that other municipalities are bringing in from their terminals.

    But other tidbits are just as juicy but just don’t gain any traction because Irving has controlled the agenda for so long. I still think that the most horrific thing about the budget is that the government no longer lists revenues from natural gas. That’s clearly an Irving move if I ever saw one, just as the terminal is about to go online and start shipping to the US, we can no longer find out how much money the government gets from it.

    But now you’re starting to catch on just how much sway they have over media and business, of course the last hurdle is something that a lot of New Brunswickers take for granted as well, that they pull the strings of government as well. But thats just crazy conspiracy talk, everybody knows money and media can’t buy political power!

  2. David Campbell says:

    Noam, Noam, is that you buddy? Anon, you seem to have it figured out. Why don’t you write this book. I’ll give you some leads for content. I’m told a person will effectively kill whatever career they have by doing this (which would explain why even CBC reporters wouldn’t go there) but, I suspect, it would feel good to get it all out. A little “Dr. Phil” for your Irving angst.

  3. Anonymous says:

    I should mention that I haven’t bothered in awhile, but there are academic studies out there, for information hogs. That’s another failing of NB’s university system, even with a focus on liberal arts people just stop asking questions.

    But for an anecdote I remember reading a study on forestry or some industry and it was by a student at some university in Nevada or someplace like that and I remember thinking how strange that was. But those kind of academic studies are out there, but you’ve got to dig. Those things could perhaps be all put together on a website, or at least at a website like corporatewatch or something. But once again most of these websites have stuff from local volunteers and New Brunswick doesn’t have people who post.

    So like I mentioned, if anybody wants to, say, join ‘council of canadians’ and conduct a study on NB they’d be more than welcome. Or the Canadian Centre for policy alternatives. As I mentioned before, they are not ‘anti business’, before that last study on atlantica the only studies that they had all came from AIMS.

    I have noticed many strange things about NB lately, for example, far from being ‘anti atlantica’, many of the smaller groups opposing Atlantica are not teaming up with similar groups in ontario, out west or Quebec, but are teaming up with organizations in MAINE! So even protest groups don’t function that differently than industry in the province.

  4. Anonymous says:

    LOL, that’s funny. Actually I probably would be a good author because I”m actually more interested in critical study than anything else, so I’m not really ‘anti irving’. My interest is in politics, so the ‘failing’ as i see it is the political system. Irving is doing just what greedy scots presbyterians do naturally, and of course they don’t do it much differently than large corporations in other areas.

    So unfortunately I don’t have that irving ‘angst’ that would drive me hard enough, I’ve got too many other interests. However, my MAIN interest does affect them considerably, and will benefit all those people who DO have some Irving angst. More importantly, its possible to alleviate that angst without worry. But I’ve still got another $5000 to raise before that can happen, I’m hoping this spring though.

    But I would love to hear those anecdotes:)

  5. Anonymous says:

    Actually, I forgot this big piece of information, I have heard that a group of New Brunswick ex patriates in Europe are working on a documentary called “The Province of Irving” or something like that. But I haven’t heard about it for awhile.

    Although the big news that I’ve heard is that the Irvings have just retained Knowlton and Hill, the public relations firm that ‘sold’ the US on the first persian gulf war (remember all those fictitious stories about babies in incubators left to die?) in order to ‘sell’ New Brunswickers on a second refinery.

    Who says New Brunswick is boring?

  6. Anonymous says:

    Mr. Campbell;

    Why don’t you take the project on to write about the Irving’s?