Where have the good people gone?

Just listening to the Jack Johnson song, Where have the good people gone? and I realized what’s been bugging me all day.

Ever since I read that friggin’ David Coon call for a lynch mob today.

I mean look it, we can agree to disagree. We can have strongly held beliefs. I don’t even have a problem writing your MLA with Coon’s form letter.

No, what’s been bugging me is this one line from his call to action:

Contact the developer and their real estate agent and tell them that their development project “Quintessential Canada” is not wanted here.

It is just incredibly hard for me to envision New Brunswickers, particularly rural New Brunswickers from Portage Vale calling up a stranger in Ireland and telling them they are “not wanted here”. Somehow that irks me to the bone.

You want my view of rural New Brunswickers?

Rural New Brunswickers are the type to help you in a jam. To go out of their way to be nice. Like when you nearly get mauled by a bear out behind Bettsburg and have to run five miles to the nearest house at 1 am only to have the guy in that house take you in and calm you down and make you a cup of tea.

Rural New Brunswickers are the type to all get together to rebuild a burned down home.

Rural New Brunswickers are the type to see you by the side of the road and stop to help you fix a flat tire.

I just can’t picture hordes of rural New Brunswickers calling Ireland and telling perfect strangers to keep away from our province.

I know this is a silly post but it has been bugging me and I have to get it off my chest.

The idea of David Coon and his gang of dewey eyed teenage dragon slayers – pimply kids looking for a cause – inciting the decent people of rural New Brunswick to be downright nasty – just annoys me to the core.

That’s not my New Brunswick.

All over a small, quiet residential development. Not over LNG. Not over refineries or incinerators. Over a residential development that would have brought jobs – at least some good paying jobs – to an area that could use some.

Jack Johnson is right. Where have the good people gone?

P.S. – all those things mentioned above have happened to me in rural New Brunswick.

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0 Responses to Where have the good people gone?

  1. ddamours says:

    Not to nitpick David but I believe that you are referring to Sam Roberts’ song instead of Jack Johnson.

    I agree that the failure of this project due to NB inaction is absurd. I saw this project as a great hope for that area of the province. I realize that some people hate any kind of change (good and bad) but as you’ve pointed out so eloquently many times, we really need change or else we will be in trouble.

    As for the council’s claim of unspoiled tracts of mature forest being rapped, take a look at the area (though I am guessing a bit at the exact location of the proposed development) in Google Maps. Yes there are some forested areas but overall there are plenty of roads and cleared out (farmed?) areas as well as many harvested sections. This is by no means an vast natural undisturbed area.

    I don’t really see why Irving would want to block this project as some seem to imply. There doesn’t seem to be any loss to Irving. They would harvest the land and get all of the timber as in their plans. I would think that 1000 ha of forest land would seem to be a drop in the bucket for Irving. Maybe I’m missing something or maybe you need to be an Irving conspiracy theorist….

  2. Anonymous says:

    Fortunately, none of these people phoned the developers, they emailed their thoughts instead. They make interesting reading. Not much of the friendliness you describe.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Re my previous comment – I have copies.

  4. David Campbell says:

    Post them if you like.

  5. mikel says:

    I don’t think you need to be a conspiracy theorist to make my claim. You may be right, perhaps they simply don’t care. Like I said, it could even be the opposite, since according to the council they used this as an opportunity to start clearcutting before there is even a deal in place-it’s not like there would be a problem in cutting later.

    So it COULD be that Irving was even involved with the company developing. After all, they would need wood for the building, and Irving has been known to start new companies to fill a potential need, such as servicing the buildings. Plus, they would probably need natural gas for heating, etc.

    But when you have government and industry acting so secretively all you can do is advance theories. If the deal is dead then we really don’t know and maybe never will.

    However, the theory that natural resource companies do not want alternatives in forestry is hardly conspiratorial, and of course its not exclusive to Irving but to all leaseholders. This is quite obvious in fact, not conspiracy stuff at all. Take a look at the recent community forestry conference in Fredericton of this year. Natives of course always have espoused their own forestry plans, and McAdam as well had their own community forest plan developed and the province told them to go to hell.

    Community forestry is becoming bigger and bigger in Canada, I believe the only one they mentioned being in New Brunswick is in Moncton. It’s no surprise that this conference got no press, just like any ‘alternative’ planning conferences get little press.

    The ‘theory’ of course is simply that IF a ‘resort’ such as this were set up and done so successfully, then it would become political. This year royalties from forests are expected to drop below 50 million. Thats getting to the point where you have to stop and think whether its worth wiping out all the forests and having to pay for the ensuing environmental costs (more flooding, less CO2 sequestering, etc) and perhaps looking at other models.

    That the leaseholders are quite happy with the status quo is no surprise (not the markets, but the political favouritism), and that they don’t want to see viable options succeed seems to me to be just common sense from a business perspective. If you invent a gas powered car and the guy next door invents one run on water, are you going to help him out?

  6. Anonymous says:

    Irving wasnt involved with the development company.

  7. richard says:

    I wonder what would fall out if you compared the average salary / job security of the Conservation Council exec or membership with those of the average NBer? Not sure they are ‘dewey-eyed kids’; more likely naive civil servants, academics, and 2nd generation suburbanites.

  8. mikel says:

    First, we don’t KNOW that the Irving wasn’t involved with the development company. YOu can’t prove a negative. Irving has vast interests and I’ll remind readers once again of the ‘union that never was’, a shipbuilders union that couldn’t organize because they couldn’t prove that they actually worked for Irving.

    Second, its always a pity when people swallow the ‘lets blame the environmentalists’ line hook and sinker. Anybody is free to join the council, I think there was once a case of a guy getting booted out, but that is rare. So once again, don’t blame them if New Brunswickers simply won’t support environmental organizations, even in cases where they happen to agree with them.

    Speaking of ‘conspiracy theories’, the idea that somehow members of the CC are millionaires or something is pretty one sided. Many student organizations join them, in fact lots of their educational material is aimed at children. The wealthiest in NB are certainly NOT the environmentalists. It may be true that many are teachers or doctors, but many are simply anybody who cares about the environment. Like I said, go check out their website and they have lobbies on dozens of different fronts. And as we’ve debated here before, in most cases they are in line with what is best economically for the province, however, they just aren’t best for the international investors that call the shots.

  9. David Campbell says:

    The ‘environmentalists’ dilute their credibility when they do things like this. Irving has the right to cut that forest and so saying they will save the forest by dumping the Irish investment is either deception or an outright lie. I, for one, will be a looking at them alot more critically when they are advocating issues that are more important.

  10. mikel says:

    That, of course, is what you are SUPPOSED to do. That’s exactly how media works. While looking at any issue critically is always a good thing (and they would love your membership and support and online discussion to join them in critically assessing environmental issues such as community forests, alternate energy, lack of financial repercussions on environmental polluters,etc) you’d think you’d be more sympathetic to THERE cause, now that you’ve experienced what its like getting shafted by that exact system in a cause YOU like.

    As you pointed out yourself, it WAS the ‘critical appraisal’ of this economic development program that is severally lacking in other economic development projects of Irvings. You even had a blog (and I agreed) that one of the most egregious things about the whole affair was how the ‘investigative journalism’ kicked into high gear with this case, while it never does in cases involving Irving.

    What happens is it becomes a ‘hot potato’, and makes it that much harder for government to deal with it. Although I still suspect lack of customers had more to do with killing the deal, a company very well could think “its not worth it”, since there are plenty of places even with Canada that would love such a development (and like I said, probably even in northern New Brunswick).

    This is important because its how media works on you. Irving does it all the time with environmental and labour issues, the only issues they really care about. So take for example in the last two weeks there have been several articles and letters to the editor (which coincidentally came at the same time) stating that CO2 is actually a WONDERFUL thing. And that putting more into the atmosphere would be great because it helps plants grown. Now, is THAT going to get ‘critically examined’? Is Irving going to interview some scientists at UNB to talk about this? Of course not. So in the public’s mind if somebody says “we don’t want another refinery because that’s more greenhouse gases” then people will counter with “yes, but more CO2 is actually GOOD”. Since it provides such an economic benefit, it falls on the other person to DISPROVE that.

    That’s how we get manipulated. It’s always sad to see an otherwise intelligent guy who just recently felt the sting of Irvings ‘selective critical appraisal’ fall for the media line.

    And just to counter, it depends what you mean by ‘right’. The New Brunswick forests are being wiped out faster than you can say timberrrr, and its all nice and ‘legal’. But of course we know who controls timber policy. It’s interesting to note that a Saint John lawyer did a study project over the summer and his conclusion is that it would be very easy for a group or a person to make a case to sue the government for failing to protect what is essentially PEOPLE”S resources.

    This is old school for anybody who has any experience in the third world. Most environmental, and eve n social catastrophes are perfectly ‘legal’, because the group committing the crime are the ones who make the laws. But that doesn’t make it ‘right’.

  11. richard says:

    Mikel: “That’s exactly how media works..”

    In this case, did the media campaign in favor of the development? Doesn’t seem so, and there is zero evidence that the Irvings played a role at all. Sounds like you have a good conspiracy theory going there yourself.

    As to the conservation council, it is quite apparent to me that urbanites can have a rather strange view of natural resources and have an almost complete disconnect between food/resource supplies and what must be done to obtain them. I see this all the time here in Ontariariario, and I suspect the same is true now in NB (certainly less so when I was growing up there). Whether they are well-meaning or not is beside the point.

  12. mikel says:

    That’s a mistake. It was Irvings land lease that was going to be involved in the land swap, the article said that quite plainly, and the Conservation Council maintains that that is WHY Irving was given permission to clear cut, which in turn provides them with that ‘right’ that david refers to.

    That post was probably too long and apparantly convoluted, because the above poster came to the OPPOSITE conclusion of what I said. I never said they campaigned FOR it, while they are obviously involved in a land deal that involves a land swap of land that they hold the lease on, that’s not the relevant point for a media critique.

    From Irvings perspective they pretty much have a win-win. They get permission to clear cut, plus, if the resort goes through they would no doubt be among the suppliers.

    From that point of view there is no difference. However, we KNOW that although they didn’t ‘campaign for it’, they certainly ‘sort of’ campaigned against it by rigorously asking all the environmental questions which they almost never ask when it concerns an Irving company. THAT is what makes the suspicion that they didn’t especially want the resort to go through. When its a gas terminal or pipeline the newspaper takes a concrete ‘we say’ position on pro development-in virtually EVERY case.

    But NOT this one, so of course it is reasonable to ask why. I gave one possible answer, others can provide theirs.

    As for the conservation council, that’s VERY true that whether they are well meaning or not is besides the point. What they say and do IS the point. First, we don’t know the proportion of membership demographics. That is typically a line used against environmental groups, that they are just urban dwellers who are pushing bad policies on rural people.

    That’s not true at all. In fact its the OPPOSITE, and again I refer you to the community forest model. This is a model that GIVES control of the resources to locals in rural areas. Do you think for a minute that the people in St. Quentin favour a policy that lets UPM clearcut trees while getting tax breaks on technology that puts people out of work there?

    Not even close. Control of local resources is exactly what is at stake in both small scale and native forestry. And like I said, it is bureaucrats at UPM, Irving and Fredericton who are making sure that rural areas are depopulated as fast as possible.

    So in fact its the OPPOSITE of what you claim. The conservation council is pushing for policies that will EMPOWER rural people so that their resources aren’t simply robbed from them.

    And once again, there isn’t the disconnect that urban and rural people feel, but a disconnect between what people WANT, and what POLICIES are in place. The policies simply favour international investors who don’t give a rats ass about New Brunswick employment. New Brunswick is a small province, there is no huge disconnect. I grew up in a new subdivision by a military base but my father was an employee in the forestry sector, whose branch office is in Fredericton. There is a pulp mill and a paper right smack in Saint John, its not like there is a wall separating resources from the exploitation of them.

    However, while there are guidelines, the conservation council is like any other organization. YOu can join it and affect policy. If you DON”T join it, then don’t be surprised if they don’t reflect your view, like any organization they reflect the views of their members.