Fun with the hansard

Reading the hansard from the New Brunswick legislature question period is a bit like grinding teeth. The posers of questions don’t expect answers and they don’t get them. Then they re-ask the question in another way and they still don’t get the answers.

Anyway, someone sent today’s hansard because there was a question about the economy. Actually, several good ones.

And of course no real answers. Just more rhetoric.

But I am really stumped as to why the government continues to pound away the export figures. I really am. Captain Kirk ‘MacDonald’ invoked the wonderful success of New Brunswick exports a half dozen times each with more intensity. Check out these excerpts:

Hon. Mr. MacDonald: Muzzle the dogs, Mr. Speaker.
I think it is important to note that last year our exports in this province grew by 13%. That is an increase of $1.2 billion last year alone. That is more than the growth of all the . . .

Hon. Mr. MacDonald: The Leader of the Opposition seems to have a problem with the definition of certain words. Perhaps if we could respectfully instruct one of the pages to get him a dictionary, he would find that it is not rhetoric, but rather it is fact. It is fact that our economy, our exports, last year alone grew by $1.2 billion. That is an increase larger than the growth rate of all the other exports in Atlantic Canada combined. You do not have to take my word for it. Go to StatsCan. That is where you are going to find that fact.

Hon. Mr. MacDonald: I would like to think that the member opposite has looked a bit into what comprises the New Brunswick economy. If he has done so, he will realize that a full three-quarters of everything that this province produces is exported outside of this jurisdiction, either to another Canadian jurisdiction or into the United States. In fact, a full 90% of everything we export goes to the U.S., 60% of that to New England alone. That is why we have been developing opportunities in those sectors, in those communities, for New Brunswickers. Despite what the member opposite says, the New Brunswick economy is growing. The proof is with Statistics Canada: There was a $1.2-billion increase last year alone. That represents 13%. For the first time ever, our exports have exceeded $10 billion—$10 billion with a “b”. The New Brunswick economy is growing.

Now, the problem with Captain Kirk is that a few of us actually went to Statistics Canada as he recommends and we actually looked at the export numbers.

And found serious trouble as reported here on several occassions.

Taking out the Irving Refinery (which creates how many full time jobs? 100?), exports are down and down significantly. Down in the majority of our most important industry sectors:

Five year trend:
Aquaculture exports – down 27%
Seafood production – down 2%
Sawmills – down 17%
Pulp & Paper – down 39%
Structural metal – down 30%
Kitchen cabinets – down 39%

This is serious. These industries are employment intensive. There have been almost 8,000 jobs lost in manufacturing and the Captain Kirk wants to brag about the Irving Refinery exports. $800 million decline in non-petroleum exports in the past year (that’s an “m”).

Maybe the Minister would like to stand on his tripod to get a better view of the economy.

Ouch, that was nasty.