Irving thinking

A lot of people, including me, were wondering why the Irving-owned media has been so hostile in its reporting of the Portage Vale residential resort project (except one article yesterday in the TJ). Now, it seems more clear. J.D. Irving, Limited holds the 25-year licence, renewable every five years, for all or part of the Crown parcel. Apparently, the Crown can give Irving rights to cut on other land.

Now, here is the Minister’s comment. Remember, this is the ‘self-sufficiency’ government:

“I want to make it clear there is no done deal by far,” he said. “Don’t expect a bulldozer to come in this summer as get to work.”

He does go on to say that “the project has incredible promise for the area, but it has to follow “every letter” of the process“.

I have tried to take a nuanced view of the Irving empire in this blog and in my professional dealings over the years even as many of the people that I trust and admire told me story after story of how this family has stifled business, investment, innovation and even free speech in the province. I try to balance the monopolistic and predatory actions of the empire against the jobs and economic activity they bring to the province.

But I may be changing my view. Events in the past few months, conversations had and other signs (including the incessant drumbeat in the comments to this blog) are giving me pause.

The problem is that all the so-called negative influences of the Irvings are anecdotal. I have yet to see any real journalism on the subject (even in the non-Irving media). There are no books on the subject (at least recent that I can find). Only bloggers and numerous anecdotes served with coffee and a crueller.

Why won’t anyone actually write an investigative – and balanced – book on the subject of the Irvings and their influence on the province’s development over the years? I would dearly love to see this and I think that hundreds if not thousands of other people would as well.

I do think that the English print media concentration in New Brunswick is downright spooky. Are there any other examples in the world where a province/state’s virtually entire suite of dailies, weeklies and community papers are owned by one entity – and a massive conglomerate at that? You might argue that if an external entity like CanWest or Transcontinental operated all the newspapers it might be less suspicious but an entity that is involved in almost every industrial sector in the province?

Done for now.