A moment of clarity

Thanks again to my little friend for sending me all those links.  If you would stop cursing and slandering, I could post your comments.

This article in the Globe & Mail is right on point. Here’s a relevant piece:

How’s it going? Just listen: “I’ve cut wood all my life. Pulp wood. Box wood. Logs I get sawed. Everything. “But I don’t cut no pulp any more. You can’t sell it. And if you can sell it somewhere, you have to ship it, so it’s not worth anything to you. It’s the same thing everywhere. The mills shut down and you can’t sell your wood. “I’m too old for it to matter much to me. But it still makes you mad. And I’m God damned mad.”

This article was supposed to be about the Oympic torch passing through the Miramichi but they caught up with the wrong guy.

That’s the most frustrating thing about this thing with NB Power.  The whole point is to try and beef up the business model for industrial activities like forest products. 

The populist movement should be about saving industry – not obstructing efforts to save industry.  Thatt’s what we get when the populist movement is fomented by folks in cushy urban centres with good jobs or from the comfort of academia.  This gets projected out and the average New Brunswicker – many of them like this guy above – lash out against this move to level the industrial power cost playing field with other industrial jurisdictions.   That’s the paradox that I can’t get my head around.  People in the Miramichi should be demanding cheap power to bolster the changes of industry coming back to the region but instead we get the opposite reaction.

Let’s be clear about one thing.  A lot of people on this blog and on the CBC and Facebook and everywhere else it seems are talking about those damn industrial companies getting a massive subsidy.  It’s being framed as if some greedy fat Wall Street bankers are taking the money and stuffing in a Swiss bank or something.  That’s laughable.  These companies make investment decisions – just like CBC’s decision to cut back on their New Brunswick programming – the boards of Fraser and AV and every other industrial company in this province make decision where to invest their money.  UPM did not exit the forestry business.  They left the jursidictions where they felt the business model was the weakest.  Same with Abitibi and many others.

Cheap industrial power is about saving and supporting good paying jobs mostly in rural New Brunswick.  That’s the bottom line.   It’s about guys like the person quoted in the G&M and thousands like him.  It’s about a failure of public policy combined with companies that decided it was easier to leave New Brunswick than to a) make capital improvements to their facilities to make them more competitive and b) decided against trying to work with government to try and address the shifting business case for their industry in this province.

The next time you rage against the man and feel good about it -read this story in the G&M.  I did and it bugs the heck out of me.

5 thoughts on “A moment of clarity

  1. No arguement on my part; the industrial rate payers are getting a great deal with their Quebec rate parity and that is good for them and good for New Brunswick.

    Now if the commercial and residential rate payers could get the same treatment, rate parity with Quebec, we would have a truly “great deal”. It ought to be possible; Quebec has more power than they can sell and the relatively small bit of power New Brunswick generates represents a fraction of Quebec’s production and should not significantly impact their average generation costs.

  2. That’s not quite true. Like I said, the population didn’t mutter and curse (much) for the decades now that the forestry industry has been propped up. This isn’t just a ‘subsidy’, this is a public utility. Thats’ what the OTHER side has to understand. We could (well YOU could) have a public discussion on cheaper power. They HAD that, and a good percentage of NBers yelled pretty loud. But whether that was a majority or not we don’t know-we don’t have that ‘democracy’.

    BEFORE this deal was announced the NB government ponied up 9 million in the Plaster Rock investment that was only 17 million. Thats over half. The Irvings even had a story on it, so it was KNOWN. There were a couple of people griping about ‘corporate welfare’, but thats it. Did a facebook group start because the government was paying half the investment even though there would be no guarantees of jobs? Even though forestry companies haven’t paid taxes in years, in fact can carry forward losses TEN years to offset future taxes? Even though the company itself was in bankruptcy? Was there massive protests when Irving got 9 million just for the threat to leave?

    Every person has their own view of course, in polls the french appear more attached to ‘ownership’ and see NB Power symbolically-and theres nothing wrong with that. The english are more likely to object on economic grounds. But either way, its the selling of utility here. Its NOT cheaper rates for industry, but SELLING NB Power. People are quite content to hand out money to save jobs, its done all the time. But now the balance has tipped. Not only does it cost money, money that YOU earn, that your kids (if they stay) will earn, but now it costs the very public utilities that have been built up.

    I should also add that this is also about the future. We don’t know yet, but the solar manufacturer in Miramichi says its likely that it will employ MORE people than the mill did when it shut. In Dalhousie I found a report that a Fredericton company wants to buy the Dalhousie mill and turn it to a thermal gas generating plant and will employ TWICE what the mill did.

    And just how nice would St. John be without that horrible horrible site of a pulp mill there? I know most don’t want to say that because jobs will be lost, but again, jobs have been lost in the yoyo that is bathurst’s mining industry for decades, so why is lumber so different. I’ll say it up front, my personal view (and I know I’m not involved) is that it would be GREAT if the pulp mills closed. It would get the government and industry into creating better public policy for NB forests. Thats something they have never done, and industry can’t be counted on to do it themselves, they ARE fat cats. The Irvings are the great biggest, gigantousest fattest *&^%$*& cats you’ve EVER seen in New Brunswick. They are so goddamn fat they are amongst the twenty richest families in the WORLD. They are so fat that you should be so lucky to have wall street suits come into the province and rearrange it, because at least THEIR corporations are public, so you can tell how much they are robbing you. Irvings, we have NO idea. Thats even WORSE than being a big fat cat, its a big fat cat that won’t even tell you what its eaten and then, OK, I’ll stop the analogy before we get to the other end.

    Thats purposely meant to be melodramatic because thats how much of the public feels-and they are RIGHT to feel that way. That old guy should be voted into office because he knows better than suits in Fredericton whats going on in the lumber industry. And again, if you haven’t at least seen “forbidden forest”, then you have NO idea what is going on in the woods, so people shouldn’t talk as if they do.

  3. The single most frustrating thing about the NB Power sale is the rampant ignorance that most of the opponents to the deal espouse. I happen to think that the decision to sell is a good one, so long as there are protective measures put in place to ensure that we aren’t held hostage by a monopoly. The ignorance is readily apparent in the opponents to continually cite the fact that we are selling to some “f&%@ing frenchmen who want to enslave us” and that Graham is somehow getting a cut of the proceeds. The Tim Horton lawyers and economists are the loudest of the bunch, and they seem determined to scuttle the deal for no objectively justifiable reason.

    “F&%@ing frenchmen!” isn’t a good reason to oppose the deal, but fearing that our economic development efforts will be prejudiced by a hasty sale is. Problem is that all of the prodigious individuals at Tim Hortons never seem to focus on the realistic impacts of the deal, yet their votes carries equal weight in the upcoming election. I strongly believe that we will be the reason for our own demise.

  4. Gonna be tough to beat Jacques, isn’t it. SAY what happen to all your sucky posters??????? They jumping ship already? Jeez! Well, I’ll take up for you. I’ve seen worse.

  5. You should congratulate me for controlling my cursing and swearing, when nearly every day, since mcKenna’s time we read something like this.
    You see at about his time accounting and business markets changed. I don’t have the study of that field to be able to explain it beyond simple corruption and fraud. But the small business person, and worker were relegated to nobody status. Finally the bird turds are going to hit the windmills! The global warming carbon crap,is losing its wings. This was supposed to be the new DOT COM replacement. Remember it was the computer era brought us out of the 1988 tumble.
    So, What now? This pyramid is not built from stone of the upper Nile!
    Tune in to KSA2 Saudi Arabia2.

    Nortel Networks Corp. pensioners reacted with disgust on Friday to reports of new lavish bonuses for the company’s top executives.

    It was yet another blow to Nortel’s distressed pensioners, retirees and long-term disabled former employees, who have dealt with financial uncertainty since the former Canadian tech darling declared bankruptcy in January.

    “It seems so aberrant, in terms of the executive of the company awarding themselves really, really rich pay raises for doing the job of taking the company apart,” said Tony Marsh, who retired from Nortel in 2000 after 30 years.

    “Those of us who built the company up, into arguably the world’s No. 1 telecom company, could never have dreamed of such riches,” Marsh added.

    An internal Nortel file “outlines a new compensation scheme for 72 Nortel executives that will see them get a total of $7.5 million U.S. on top of their current salaries in 2009,” according to CBC News.

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