New Brunswick – Apocolypse Now? When?

I have to admit since I started writing my blog in 2004, I am starting to see the themes that I have been promoting starting to get more prominence in the media in New Brunswick. I stake no claim to this – I just think that more and more people are wising up to the realities staring us right in the face.

Consider this Telegraph Journal article published yesterday. I don’t know if that link will work for you our not but I will summarize its content. It was penned by Rick Buckingham, president and CEO of 2 for 1 Pizza Inc. based in Fredericton. It was entitled The apocalyptic effect of the loonie on small-town N.B.

Mr. Buckingham almost correctly summarizes the lack of economic development in all of New Brunswick except Moncton and Fredericton:

Times are good in Moncton and Fredericton, two cities quite insulated from the vagaries of our economy. This is due to the fact that Fredericton is essentially a government and pseudo-government city with the likes of NB Power, two universities, and a smattering of engineering, call centres, and high-tech firms. Moncton’s economic growth is coming from call centres, software firms, a university, a new brewery and diaper factory and is increasingly becoming a travel hub for our province.

He than states his case:

The problems and solutions facing rural New Brunswick are enormous.

He then continues to talk about the crisis facing the forestry sector and its potential impacts on rural NB. Well framed work. He makes an interesting point that I haven’t heard before:

In Atlantic Canada, stumpage fees which are negotiated in five- to 25-year deals, are the highest in the world rivaled only by Japan. Although New Brunswick remains a successful forest product exporter, we are faced with the real threat of Latin America and South America with its huge, fast growing, eucalyptus plantations becoming the low cost producers on the planet. This will exasperate an already precarious situation.

Golly, wouldn’t it be neat to hear this from an actual government worker/elected official?

He concludes:

Our survival is at stake. We must either face the facts and find lower cost solutions, which in most cases are difficult choices, or the high Canadian dollar will do it for us. In effect, without change on the part of all stakeholders, it will make for a very unpleasant situation here in New Brunswick and abroad.

Sound familiar? I wonder why a pizza flipper even cares about this stuff but I am glad he does. If we can’t get straight talk from government and from journalists, maybe the pizza flippers will rise up and provide us with intelligent and relevant discourse.

I’ll take a large with extra pepperoni with a sprinkle of prosperity, please.