It’s just plain sad

I have been reading the various media stories – mostly the T&T but also the CBC – and the unbelievable spin they are putting on the story of the upscale residential cluster being proposed for around the Sussex region.

The journalists have tried on just about every possible negative theme they can muster. The project will involved cutting down one of the last ‘mature’ forests in New Brunswick. An MLA has an economic interest in the project. The jobs will be low wage. On and on. They are critical of the ‘Irish investors’. They are skeptical of the whole project. They are quoting government officials disclaiming the project all over the place.

It is truly unbelieveable. More forest is cut down every couple of days in New Brunswick than this entire project and basically shipped out of market with no value add. And somehow this very small project – in the overall forests of New Brunswick is an environmental disgrace. The jobs will be ‘low wage’. The richest areas of British Columbia and Alberta are building the exact type of projects for the nouveau riche in Calgary. New Brunswick has virtually no nouveau riche at all and this project would actually bring their money here. To New Brunswick. Investing here. Paying property taxes here. Then there’s the skepticism over the ‘secrecy’. This is the most juvenile and silly argument of all. Developers always negotiate with landowners and other partners without public involvement. That happens inside the borders of Moncton. Just because someone won’t talk with Al Hogan’s lackey about the project means that it is somehow a bad deal for New Brunswickers?

I would have thought the media reports would ooze excitment. Here is the potential for an exciting new project that will bring hundreds of millions in new investment and ultimately considerable new taxes to the province. And all the media can do is criticize?

I am amazed. There can be no doubt. We went from a ‘sense of urgency’ around economic development in 1990 to complete apathy by 2000 to downright hostility in 2007.

It’s borderline surreal. If someone proposed a smoke stack heavy industrial plant for that area the hew and cry would be out of this world. Someone proposes a light footprint, quiet residential community for rich Europeans and that is also savagely attacked. What the cripes does Al Hogan and the other elites want? I don’t blame the fourth generation Steeves who wants to protect the wilderness down there. I blame the folks who should know better.

If you want to turn the whole province into a forest, keep up with this attitude. Economic development is a topic I have studied in great detail over the years and one thing is sure. It takes a long time. Not months. Not years. Sometimes not even decades. But eventually you get to the dubious distinction of being the poorest area in North America as measured by income, net worth and standard of living.

And instead of a collective outcry demanding better. We get this crap.

So much for that whole bootstraps thing. Somebody took them off and hung them behind the door.

And the Pols keep talking about ‘self-sufficiency’. That’s the surreal part. In 15 years, I have never seen such a hostile atmosphere for economic development. At the government and political level. The only group that keeps soldiering on diligently are the Enterprise groups trying to get blood out of stone.

Belledune is one thing but this is something other.

Mark my words. Any project. Any project will have opponents. Politicians and community leaders used to know this and were able to balance the public good against the interests of individuals or lobby groups (or in this case the media which has become one of the most vestest lobby group of all).

New Brunswick might lose this project. I sincerely hope not. But I suspect that the developers and proponents are just as amazed at the response in New Brunswick.

And I’ll end with the same point I made in the previous blog. It doesn’t really matter if this group is a sham. Worst case scenario the lumberjacks get to keep the ‘mature’ forest for another day until Irving coughs up the dough and they sell it to be cut into the 2x4s shipped directly to projects just like this in the U.S., Quebec and beyond.