I completely understand former Premier Frank McKenna’s positive reaction to the tax cuts in the most recent Liberal budget. Frank has always relished his role as Salesman in Chief for New Brunswick and now he has another tool to go out and talk about. I also understand Britt Dysart’s reaction. He realy seems to enjoy his role as hammerer-of-all-things-PC.
But these guys like Thomas d’Aquino, president of the Canadian Council of Chief Executives coming out in support of the budget? I think that is just plain cynical. The CCCE has 150 members – almost all of the largest corporations in Canada and other than the NB firms Irving, McCain – these companies have almost completely ignored New Brunswick. I remember back in my call centre days – I was told that New Brunswick had better luck attracting U.S headquartered companies than Canadian headquartered companies. More recently, Halifax has attracted almost a dozen financial services firms to that city – how many of them are based in Toronto? None.
It’s stunning really. The largest financial, ICT, manufacturing and service firms in Canada and other than small retail operations here – they have not invested in New Brunswick – ever. RBC, TD and a few other have call centres here. McCain, Irving & Ganong are here to be sure but how about manufacturing, software development, distribution facilities, financial services back offices, R&D labs, pharmaceutical benefits management centres, etc.? Nothing. $3.5 trillion in assets.
I’ll tell you what. If Thomas d’Aquino’s members start flocking to New Brunswick to set up new manufacturing, software development studios, animation studios, media production facilities, etc. then I’ll say he is not being cynical. But until then I’ll continue to believe that he just wants to put pressure on McGuinty and other provinces where these firms actually do have more than just a retail presence to cut their tax rates.
I believe passionately in New Brunswick and its ability to compete in the global market place. I really hope, and spend much of my time advocating for it, that New Brunswick can turn itself around and become a place of growth and economic dynamism in my lifetime. But unfortunately I think we will have a easier time trying to attract manufacturing and software development, etc. out of Europe, maybe India and the US than out of Toronto. It’s unfortunate. You would think that these big national companies would have an interest in Canada having a strong and successful economy from coast to coast but I see no real evidence of that.