21Inc, closing mills, gambling & NB Power

A few diverse subjects this a.m. but I’ll address them rapid fire:

21Inc. – I don’t know about this kind of thing. Picking 21 young people, getting them together and positioning it as leadership training for the future. Certainly it can’t hurt but these low cost, feel good initiatives are no substitute for high cost, serious effort, credibility challenging efforts. I sincerely hope that whoever is heading up 21Inc. that they take a long hard look at why kids leave this province. Not the usual crap.

Upwards of 25 more mills are potentially looking at shutting down – at least temporarily. I think the government would be well advised to look at a serious long term strategy for the forestry sector based on real value add and not on being Home Depot’s 2X4 supplier. Read that blog on the Scandanavian example.

Someone asked me why I didn’t comment on the new gambling strategy. I don’t because I don’t know much about the sector. It seems to me that it siphon’s off entertainment money from other areas of spending so the only net new economic activity from it would be reclaiming money lost to the N.S. casinos and possibly tourists. But I don’t know that tourists will come here to gamble. As a result, I don’t think this is much of an economic development issue – except at the local level where community’s will vie for their share.

NB Power’s David Hay has some big brass cojones. He was out yesterday suggesting that we need dramatic increases in electricity rates to curb usage and make people more ‘green’. Well, given that rates have increased dramatically under his tenure, I think we are well on the way. In addition, I think people might be a little more sensitive to Hay’s message if New Brunswick actually had a green energy strategy. I think people might actually pay a little more if 30% or more of our electricity production was from green energy sources – produced in New Brunswick. But, as usual, NB Power is among the least innovative utilities in Canada and as a result we get scoldings from David Hay about our excess energy consumption. Sheesh.