New, er trade development program

I was driving over to Riverview on Saturday when I saw a motorcade of about 6-7 official looking vehicles and we were made to pull over. I figured Harper was in town for that 500 bucks a head fundraiser for the Lord Re-election campaign. As he has banned this federally, I guess that frees him up to do them for his provincial buddies.

Anyway, Harper also made a funding announcement on Saturday:

Prime Minister Stephen Harper, joined by Premier Binns on behalf of the four Atlantic Premiers, today announced a new five-year, $10 million Canada/Atlantic Provinces Agreement on International Business Development (IBDA) in Charlottetown.

Since 1994, 32 per cent of companies that participated in an IBDA-sponsored trade activity for the first time have since begun exporting internationally; 42 per cent of companies reported an increase in the volume of their exports; and 29 per cent started exporting to new markets as a result of IBDA activity. A total of 179 projects have been approved and more than 1,500 companies have participated in them. (source: IBDA survey)

This is an old Cretien trick. Announce a ‘new’ funding program that is actually just an extention of a program that has been in place for over a decade. Cretien was even smarter. He would take money from one pocket, transfer it to another pocket and announce a bold new funding program.

Anyway, enough of that. Another statistic they use always makes me chuckle. They say (and I have heard this multiple places):

Every $1 million in exports sustains 8-10 jobs in Atlantic Canada. Economic expansion in Atlantic Canada is tied to improved trade performance, particularly among small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

This metric is particularly hilarious in the context of New Brunswick’s exports growth since the Irving Refinery expanded. Exports are up $4 billion (just ask Captain Kirk) meaning that by this measurement, there are 36,000 new jobs in New Brunswick just from export industries.

The government and others serving up this type of statistic should couch it in the context of the type of export. Oil, gas, potash, wood pulp, etc. would not have such a multiplier in place – I dare say. Salmon flies, handcrafted cabinets, etc. might have a higher one.