Nova Scotia editor goes nuts

Sometimes in our rush to make a point, we try to find examples without really doing any research. It’s clear that this guy (below) is trying to get Nova Scotia to be more aggressive on the economic development front, but by using New Brunswick as his model…. Well you just read it. I won’t even comment on it as my blog is a constant commentary:

If New Brunswick can do it, why can’t we?

By Dan Leger
Mon. Nov 5 – 4:46 AM

ONE OF MY vivid memories of growing up in New Brunswick is of my father grumbling about how the economy of our home province was always lagging Nova Scotia’s.

“Those guys know how to get things done,” Dad would say about governments run by premiers Robert Stanfield and G.I. Smith.

But no more. Nowadays, the shoe is on the other foot. New Brunswick’s economy is diversified and robust. It’s still much smaller, but it threatens to leave Nova Scotia’s in the dust.

And New Brunswick is growing the best way, entrepreneur-ially, with private money doing most of the work. So despite a smaller population, fewer universities and no advantage in natural resources, New Brunswick’s economy is growing almost twice as fast as Nova Scotia’s.

Last week, I sat in on a briefing in Fredericton given by a senior provincial official. I can’t give his name, but he is a key figure.
And he had a lot to say.

He talked about New Brunswick’s emergence as an energy hub on the border of the voracious New England market. Irving company cash is creating a compact energy powerhouse through refining, importing and transporting petroleum products.

Canada’s first liquefied natural gas terminal is materializing ahead of schedule at the Irving Canaport facility outside Saint John. Massive reinforced tanks are being built to contain and reheat supercooled gas.
The gas then will go into a pipeline to New England.

Planning is well advanced for a second, massive Irving oil refinery in Saint John. If it goes ahead, the new refinery will be one of the biggest privately funded industrial projects in Canadian history.

It’s estimated 5,000 workers will be needed to build the plant, another 1,000 permanent jobs will be created when it opens. Once the refinery goes on stream, eight out of 10 cars in Boston will run on gas refined in New Brunswick.

But petroleum isn’t the only catalyst for the New Brunswick economy.
As NB Power begins preparations to refurbish the Point Lepreau nuclear plant, planning is underway on construction of a second 630 megawatt plant. What was once the laughingstock of the Canadian energy business is now one of its best performers.

Point Lepreau, despite the massive cost overruns during its construction, is now one of the most efficient plants on the continent.
And because nuclear plants produce no greenhouse gases, there’s an environmental argument for a second plant.

The financial strategy for Lepreau II is to spread the risk among public and private investors. Rejecting Nova Scotia’s paranoia about private-public partnerships, New Brunswick is actively seeking out private investors for Lepreau II. The senior official we spoke to told us that search is going very well.

To be fair, some critics say New Brunswick would be better off using its money to find ways to save electricity and consume less. But if the province is to keep growing, it will need power.

Once the second plant is built, New Brunswick will have total generation capacity of 4,000 megawatts, compared to less than 2,300 in this province. Nova Scotia Power might end up as a customer for Lepreau II’s output.

But it’s more than energy. Potash Corp. of Saskatchewan has committed to spending $1.7 billion to build a second mine near Sussex capable of producing two million tonnes of the mineral a year.

And just down the road from the potash mines, Corridor Resources is exploiting a natural gas field, whose output will be fed into the pipeline to New England.

To the north, a pioneering company in Miramichi is building modular bridges that can be shipped anywhere. It has one under construction that will be loaded onto barges and towed to the MacKenzie River in the Northwest Territories.

New Brunswick’s economic momentum started almost two decades ago when Frank McKenna became premier. The hard-driving McKenna built on the bilingual population, luring call centres and technical support facilities to the province.

New Brunswickers grew confident, keeping up the momentum after McKenna left. Bernard Lord and his Conservatives took over, but kept the same development principles in place.

Now Shawn Graham and the Liberals are in control. His objectives are still to build the economy and put people to work through nimble private-public partnerships. Government is a partner with business, not a bystander.

Now ask yourself what the defining principle is here in Nova Scotia, beyond demanding more money from Ottawa. Send me an e-mail if you figure it out.

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0 Responses to Nova Scotia editor goes nuts

  1. Trevor says:

    You are the first person I thought of when I read this article.. I asked myself on what data is he basing this argument? He could be right, but show me some benchmarks that prove your claim.

  2. David Campbell says:

    Look, if all the energy projects get going it will provide some economic stimulus but this is another example of someone using theoretical, future events as evidence of current success. Talking about something doesn’t make it real. If we look at the last five years, Nova Scotia has had much more economic development success than New Brunswick – by any measure. The oil & gas helps but the Bermuda bank attraction and the huge RIM project trump a dozen rural call centres in New Brunswick.

  3. nbt says:

    Look, if all the energy projects get going it will provide some economic stimulus but this is another example of someone using theoretical, future events as evidence of current success.

    How about someone using theoretical, past events as evidence of current failure. Oh yeah, you’ve done that. My bad.

  4. mikel says:

    Since I ‘figured it out’, I thought I’d share the email I sent to Dan:

    The focus for economic development in Nova Scotia couldn’t be further from just ‘asking the feds for more money’. The gist of the Atlantic Accord is, of course, a request to keep some of its own money. Meanwhile, although rebuffed at every opportunity, the only real strategy of the ‘self sufficiency’ plan of Shawn Graham (like the short lived ‘prosperity plan’ of Bernard Lord) has been almost literally to beg for money from the federal government. Meanwhile, Nova Scotia has done the work of attracting expanding corporations like Research in Motion, and has started so many financial backoffices that a blogger ( has started a blog to simply complain about tax dollars being used to attract investment.

    As a fellow New Brunswicker I request that you at least look at your birth province objectively. The ‘new’ nuclear plant is far from a typical public private partnership. Corporations are not in the ‘risk’ business, as Bernard Lord found out as he tried to unload the current Point Lepreau. Sharing the risk means New Brunswickers take the risk and investors make the profits. Meanwhile, potash is almost literally being given away in a short term deal to trade some jobs for a non renewable resource.

    As for the big deals: the LNG terminal is a big construction project that’s true, but it certainly wasn’t private. In Maine a new LNG terminal was approved by referendum, which guarantees millions in property taxes, 60 full time jobs at over 60 grand each, as well as numerous financial packages for affected fishermen. In New Brunswick, a special tax deal was negotiated to freeze property taxes at the terminal at half a million per year, and the Irvings own papers have stated that they only expect eight full time jobs, with no guarantees on salaries.

    As for the new refinery, once again it provides lots of construction work, however, the years long strike at the current refinery shows that Irving is nothing if not cost effective. During the strike the refinery was run by managers, and that was over a decade ago. The first projections on jobs were at 2500 but now Irving papers are stating only 800-1000 jobs will be full time permanent. Compare that with the 1400 announced by Research in Motion in a technologically advanced field and New Brunswick’s plan falls far short-especially considering the pollution that will blanket the city.

    Meanwhile, statistics tell the story. New Brunswick’s population is stagnant to declining, while the province has only managed to stay in the black by increasing debt this year by 200 million, and by massive increases from the equalization program (that federal money you refer to). High technology firms are barely treading water, and medical and other research is small enough to fill only a small university. When R&D money from the feds floods the ‘market’, New Brunswick barely has a mention. The other largest industrial development in Saint John is the synthetic wallboard plant which is owned by Irving, but is paid for by the federal governments handout of 50 million dollars that it gave in exchange for closing the shipyard. The material to make the wallboard will come from the Coleson Cove power plant, in what will no doubt be a very cheap price.

    As for the private sector, it has been almost nothing but bad news. Atlantic Yarns is declaring bankruptcy after tens of millions in subsidies, the Caisse Populaire is being propped up and not investigated as 60 million fills the coffers that seem to have been handed out in specious loans. Meanwhile, large and small mills have been shutting down leaving entire communities destitute.

    Thats a realistic counter to your very upbeat view of New Brunswick, in smaller fields Nova Scotia has doubled tax credits to help its film and television industry, an industry that doesn’t even exist in New Brunswick and which lost much of the production it had when Nova Scotia announced its new program.

    If anything New Brunswick is leaps and bounds behind Nova Scotia and its only growth potential exists as a result of an ‘everything must go’ and a ‘we’ll do anything’ approach to large polluting companies. Hardly a model for anybody to follow, and one that New Brunswickers don’t even have a choice but to follow, and don’t even have a media with which to hear alternatives.

  5. David Campbell says:

    Mikel, that’s a good, thought provoking letter. Good for you.