Those who have destroyed us

The People’s Alliance Party is really tapping into a small but poignant populist sentiment.  This bit about not wanting to vote for “those who have destroyed us” is taken from a column written by a PANB candidate in the Miramichi.

There in government money spent in the Miramichi than ever before.  Almost 20% of total income in the Miramichi comes directly from government transfers – a rate well above most other small urban areas across Canada and that doesn’t include all the non-transfer government spending on new hospitals, roads, whatever in the area.

But the truth is that people don’t want to live in an area that is going down and I feel for that.  I want people to fight for their communities.

But I think Mr. Gullison risks falling into the same trap with his focus on “private woodlot owners, farmers, small business, and seniors”.    I don’t know enough about the first two on his list to add much to the debate.  I am not sure what government policy can drive up the price of private woodlot owner wood. I have said that I think the farming sector in New Brunswick might make a comeback and I support efforts to promote the use of local produce and agricultural products – even at a higher price.

Chronic economic challenges create structural changes in the business environment.  We need to forceably change the narrative in the Miramichi and one of the ways that is done is by achieving some measure of economic development success.

I guess the point of this ramble is has government really ‘destroyed’ the Miramichi?

4 thoughts on “Those who have destroyed us

  1. Absolutely. That’s what provincial policies do. Government is always quick to tout its success when times are good, the sword cuts both ways. For private woodlot owners, lets just look at ONE issue, which is crown land licenses. How does a private woodlot owner compete with a large corporation which is almost GIVEN a huge swath of publicly owned land, which they rarely reinvested in or had to follow the same regulations that were implemented on small woodlot owners?
    That’s just one issue, but a big one. It let the large mills essentially shut out private woodlot owners, and then they closed down. And then the province passed legislation that would let NB wood be processed outside the province and shipped back in.
    So he’s absolutely right in that regard, it has been the liberals and tories who have fought tooth and nail against community forest models, virtually the ONLY models that are working in places like BC. Ontario doesn’t use them, and the problem is about the same-whole northern communities are rapidly disappearing.
    So what he’s saying is ESPECIALLY true in forestry and mining as well. Now, what would be nice is that IF the PNB will have free votes for MLA’s, then I assume they will also welcome private members bills, which means the pertinent question is WHAT ‘an emphasis on woodlot owners, small businesses, seniors” actuallly MEANS. What policies will be enacted? A bill ‘to emphasize woodlot owners, small businesses and seniors”?
    By the way, just a reminder in that for years there have been more small woodlot owners than employees in forestry industry.

  2. I am not sure it’s fair to blame govt for problems the Chi is facing. When demand for product from paper mills and mines was strong, there was plenty of public support for govt programs that helped those particular industries grow. When the mills entered a downward phase, there was also public support for aid to keep them open – after all, those mills were a source of relatively high-paying jobs when jobs were scarce. Would there have been a lot of public support for community forest initiatives in the Chi, or would they have been seen by mill employees and their families as threats? Hindsight is easy.

    There certainly is room in NB (especially now) for a few community forest pilot projects. There are over 50 such assns in BC, but many have been established in recent years and a decade or two will be needed to see how well they really operate. The recent growth of these assns in BC is a response to the collapse of the industry in BC; there is not much evidence yet that this approach will be a cure. Lots of potential, tho.

    The focus right now here in NB is on disputes between woodlot owners and mills re price for product. If some of that crown allocation was transferred to community forest assns, how would the woodlot owners react? Would they see that as a threat, or an opportunity? This is another one of those areas where transparency and public debate is lacking in this province.

  3. It’s more complicated than that. I’d actually argue that it was the corporations that ‘destroyed’ the province, and that accounts for much of the hatred of big business that certainly isn’t restricted to NB or forestry.
    However, governments get the last word, no matter how much funding they get from corporations. It was certainly those policies that destroyed the lumber industry in the miramichi. Unions and small woodlot owners had been saying for DECADES that this was unsustainable. My father worked in forestry, and every four or five years the industry was hit with another ‘depression’ which laid off huge numbers, and fired more.
    The unions even within Irvings companies were saying that mills had to get out of the cheap commodity kraft paper industry because the writing was on the wall decades ago.
    The government refused to listen, and again you can go watch “Forbidden Forest” to see just how bad the government was (is). Corporations are not charities, we all know that. A multinational cutting NB forests of course will not give a rats ass, it will take what it can get-in fact it HAS to, or its shareholders would sue it.
    However, government is supposed to be set up to prevent that from happening, particularly when so much of the land is owned by the people of NB.
    It wasn’t hindsight that was pointing out the rise in the canadian dollar, in fact that was part of the NAFTA agreement and it was well known that Paul Martin was implementing policies to get the exchange rate to the level where the dollar wouldn’t act as a subsidy.
    Community forest models have MANY objectives, so its hard to evaluate what ‘works’, since it doesn’t have the same objectives. However, in the end, whatever happens is by definition the government’s ‘fault’. Just like had the Lord government accepted many of the recommendations of the forest public policy debates that would still be the government’s ‘fault’, the point is that public policy isn’t something a monarch does behind closed doors (or isn’t supposed to be). So while it IS the government’s ‘fault’, that doesn’t mean no other groups other than the 58 sitting members or the Premier are to blame.

  4. ” It was certainly those policies that destroyed the lumber industry in the miramichi”

    Policies should be evidence-based. Mills in Canada have become less competitive for a number of reasons, not just the rise in the dollar. I have seen the Forbiiden Forest video; but the points made in the video don’t explain the mill closures, they simply point out how badly the forest is managed. That’s an issue separate from the mill closures.

    “It wasn’t hindsight that was pointing out the rise in the canadian dollar, in fact that was part of the NAFTA agreement and it was well known that Paul Martin was implementing policies ”

    No, it wouldn’t be hindsight – it would be just making stuff up. Do you have any evidence to support those claims, or was the data carried away by black helicopters?

    “So while it IS the government’s ‘fault’, that doesn’t mean no other groups other than the 58 sitting members or the Premier are to blame.”

    Thanks for agreeing with me.

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