Donald Savoie on RIM: redux

I can’t believe that Al Hogan actually printed this one but he did…

Times & Transcript
December 14, 2005
N.B. should have made pitch for N.S. Blackberry jobs: economist

There is no excuse why New Brunswick did not make a serious pitch to land Waterloo, Ont.-based Research in Motion’s 1,200-job facility that ended up in Halifax, according to an expert on regional economic development.Donald Savoie, a professor at l’Universit√© de Moncton, said he was deeply disappointed when he heard New Brunswick was not even on RIM’s radar when the technology giant, famous for its Blackberry handheld devices, went looking to locate a new technical support centre. Atlantic Canadians should revel in Halifax’s gain Savoie said, but New Brunswickers have every right to question the provincial government on why it wasn’t at the table trying to attract RIM.”I can tell you this with absolute certainty, Frank McKenna would have been there,” Savioe said. “Of course they (the New Brunswick government) should have been there. As a Maritimer we should be delighted it is going to Halifax. As a New Brunswicker it is a legitimate question to ask where was New Brunswick, was it asleep at the switch.

“Creating jobs isn’t done by sitting in Fredericton, Savoie said as he referred to McKenna’s reputation for pounding on Bay Street doors trying to bring new companies to New Brunswick.”Unless you pursue these with some chance of a success all this talk about an immigration policy are just vapid words, it means nothing. New Canadians will not come to New Brunswick if there is nothing for them to do here.”

Business New Brunswick Minister Peter Mesheau defended the fact New Brunswick was not a player in drawing RIM, saying the size of the proposed facility was likely too big for one provincial centre.”When you are talking 1,250 jobs, I would say they would be looking at least a metropolitan area of at least in excess of a quarter million people,” Mesheau said.”You are not going to fit everyone’s requirements. Sometimes what we have been able to do, some of the companies in New Brunswick, they will have different size operations around the province.”

Lord said McKenna’s Liberals saddled the province with too many bad debts because they jumped too quickly.

The UdeM professor said he worries the provincial government has grown lethargic in attempting to out hustle other provinces for jobs. Savoie said a former Nova Scotia premier once said his biggest problem in expanding the economy was McKenna because the New Brunswick premier always beat him to large corporations interested in creating jobs.

My Comments:

This excuse that the RIM project was ‘too big’ for New Brunswick is the ultimate cop-out. They are ramping up those jobs over five years – only 300 in year one. If Moncton or Saint John can’t handle 300 jobs – then we have a serious problem. Secondly, as has been proven with OAO, Speilo and a host of other IT companies, good paying IT jobs can bring in workers from across Canada. This would have been an outstanding project to repatriate some of the thousands of New Brunswickers that have left the province in the past few years.

But all that’s moot. The province has freely admitted they were never even in the hunt for RIM. And Savoie is right. McKenna would have been right in there fighting away.

Our guy would rather spend his time polishing up his national image and we are paying the price.

Kudos to Savoie for ‘speaking the truth to power’ and (I’m reaching for the Peptobismal as I write this) to Al Hogan for actually allowing this article to be published. It’s way out of character for him.

Maybe he’s on vacation.