About It’s the Economy, Stupid

I started this blog in October 2004 as a forum for discussion about economic development in New Brunswick and the Atlantic Provinces.  I felt then, as I do now, that economic development is not discussed widely enough in this region.  After over 2,000 posts and 5,000 comments and upwards of 6,000 readers in a month, I think it is serving its purpose.  Let’s have a conversation about economic development and ideas that can transform the region.

33 thoughts on “About It’s the Economy, Stupid

  1. Love your article and read it every week. First time I have responded because I am so dissappointed in what is happening in NB.
    I stay here and have tried to scratch out a living for only two reasons, one to raise my daughters in a safe place and two, I love nature.
    My creditials range from a buyer at JCPenny,Bloomingdales, and the flag ship store of Simpsons in Toronto in the 80’s, an international model when at 16 years of age I was making more then my high school teachers part – time, I could go on and on but what I cannot seem to understand here in NB is the following:
    No benchmarking to look around to see how the best does it in business?
    The slowness to respond.
    The dumber then dumb capability and know how to seize a deal and to make sure it has a ROI for all concerned. Love to hear the business model from the textile industry. What planet were they on?
    To no IT Minister in place. RIM wants to come here not because we are bright but because they can take advantage of us and our bright people who slog away at making a living. MASLOS LAW.
    I am so fead up, moving could be an option and soon.
    We need more of you who get it.


  2. Got it David, and appreciate Kim’s comments above. The whole point of the commercial relevancy nature of the LocalintheKnow network with our portals in each community is to bring latest in communications technology applications to the discussion supported by a sustainable advertising model. We need this discussion and on a platform that can be supported by general revenues that have no alternative agenda other than building out a better community development strategy.

    So beginning in April, we will add a discussion board application to the network, so ongoing discussions can continue beyond the blogs posts and link back and forth as the topics develop. With a discussion board we get a thread that can continue and aggregate ideas over a longer and more reflective period of time. We will send you the details for the log in and moderator control and with KnowNewBrunswick.com up to 5,000 visitors per month, we have now a Province wide discussion potential. Great topics and thoughtful commentary.

    We need to hold on to the Kim Cookson’s of this world in New Brunswick, if we are ever to grow our way even moderately, let alone to self sufficiency.

  3. David,

    I found your blog – not using Google, but on a blogroll of another site. This is the first blog that I have come across written by a NB author whose posts make a lot of sense; and promotes NB as a business destination.

    On your note on ideas; having ideas are not merely enough. Following ideas through to execution is the difficult part. There’s often a slip between idea generation and execution. I have always believed ideas are dime a dozen, but to turn it into reality needs special skills. Not everyone can do it. And those who can must be offered incentives to stay back and help turn an idea into reality.

  4. Your column in today’s Telegraph Journal is bang on – couldn’t have said it better myself. Anybody who has ever worked or lived outside of New Brunswick has to realize how far behind we are in a lot of ways. Where are these discontented leaders when we need them??

  5. To MH:

    The discontented leaders, the “A Team”, packed their bags and left for real opportunities. The “B Team” was left behind and this is what you end up with.

  6. your article titled change the conversation in the north makes some good points but continues to miss the main problem. We talk about investment and training and other factors but we never discuss attitude. The so called north is full of attitutudes and many of them hurt the area. One attitude that is lacking is cooperation. French compete with english and protestants compete with catholics and communities fight for the crumbs and individuals often are jealous about their neighbors sucess.Petit Roche and Belledune are good examples. This is an attitude that is to common. Sports fishers in the province are more interested in protecting their spot than growing the resource hence the decline in sportsfishing assisted by increasing liscense fees. Politicians as well as others like this because it allows them to ignore a divided public. tom hickie fredericton

  7. Greetings-
    I read your column regularly. I believe that we both spoke at a PC party meeting a year or so ago at the Legion hall in West Saint John.
    I was away for several days and am now catch up with my reading, which is why I am just writing now WRT a minor item in the June 19 T-J: “…..part of it is related to climate change and global warming.” I would just like to bring to your attention that virtually all the hue and cry about these topics stands on a very weak base of dodgy temperature readings and incomplete computer programs. I would be safe offering money to anyone who could point to any climate condition anywhere in the world and show that the conditions could not be explained by normal variations. The world’s weather and climate are the most complex system known, and the present game of blaming carbon dioxide will be found to be virtually groundless.
    I write to urge you not to get caught in the trap of believing the AGW story. I have taken the time to read the “behind” story and am confident that Man is not causing a future climate disaster. And why this is important is because many governments are setting policy based on the fallacy that something must be done to reduce our CO2 emissions. I read with horror the “Climate Change Action Plan” of NB and similar documents for NS and PEI. Those are only our closest neighbors. Other provinces and states have similar misguided policies. I am doing my best to make facts known, but the MSM are continually putting out pro-AGW propaganda and censoring anything that runs contrary to it.
    Feel free to contact me for further information, references, etc.

    Best regards.

    Ian L. McQueen
    Climate Truth Initiative
    tel 506-468-9000

  8. Little things matter. For instance, while trying to book a car rental from the Moncton Airport in September, not one of the rental agencies gives unlimited kilometers. All of them give 200 free km and charge 15 cents there after. Not a good way to welcome people to invest and do business if it is going to cost them more to drive to those places! Wake up GMAA!

  9. ‘Liked your article in the TJ today re: the GIS/geomatics industry in NB. I do think you should have mentioned that at least one company – CARIS in Fredericton – DID leverage the substantial provincial and federal government government support (received through contracts & sales to line departments rather than grants or loans), and now has well over 100 employees in offices here, the USA and overseas. It would be good for you to talk with company founder Dr. Sam Masry about Caris’ success in a niche market, and why they stayed independent and NB-based despite attractive approaches from several interested potential buyers over the years.

    When you look at the prevailing attitudes and available funding for contracting out government services and products in the NB of the late 1980s and early 1990’s versus today, you’ll see a big difference. There are still some great folks in GIS/Geomatics working here in New Brunswick outside of Caris. We still have consultants recognized nation-wide and who work internationally. However, some of those consultants are nearing retirement age. The manufacturing side of the that business never took off beyond Caris for a variety of reasons, and much of the day-to-day creative activity is now found within municipal and provincial government sectors without the funds to contract out.

    This is addressable, but we need to look at how we support and business here. You’re right — it IS all about entrepreneurship, and entrepreneurs respond to opportunities. Unless people have a serious personal stake in the business, talent in private service companies usually lasts only as long as a market exists here. When that demand dries up, those people either move elsewhere OR into new areas where the opportunities exist.

  10. David,

    I read your columns in the TJ regularly. Sometimes I agree with you, sometimes I don’t, but I’m glad you’re bringing these topics up.

    However, your column last week on Shale Gas disappointed me. There are dozens of communities and thousands of people in New Brunswick concerned about how shale gas extraction. You cannot dismiss these people as “environmentalists”. These are regular people – farmers, carpenters, bankers, and seniors. Until this issue came up I wouldn’t have considered them environmentalists. These are people who have lived their lives in NB and care about this province.

    The shale gas isn’t going anywhere and neither are the gas companies. There are rich reserve in NB and the gas industry will be here for at least a couple decades. It’s important to take the time NOW, before gas prices rise and exploration booms, to have a public debate about this and establish safeguards and rules so that it benefits the province and its communities.

    All the best,

    Corn Hill, New Brunswick

  11. David
    Your article on shale gas was well done. It certainly has the potential of being an economic driver for the province. I am amazed at the stiff resistance to it and wonder if folks are aware of the potential it might bring?
    Have you considered an article on the potential of increased tourism. We are presently visiting Costa Rica and tourism is it’s mainstay. Development is taking place as I write this. With tourism, industry follows i.e. people like the place and relocate and/or satellite with their businesses. We lived for many years in Asia, and places like Singapore built their economy on tourism. Same for KL, Bangkok which are now becoming highly industralized.
    I often wonder if our government understands this potential… the bucks certainly are not there.
    Just words for thought. This is not for posting…. appreciate it.
    Regards. Ken

  12. Hello all, as this is an article that was again posted on July 20th (in more detail), we wanted to add our voice to the concerned.

    We are those who day in and day out are the ones seeking that work that David has identified in his post. We are the ones who wait for the phone call for the interviews, the feedback and the responses that would provide us hope, closure, and moving on from being in this state.

    We see stories about how governments are bringing in jobs, starting new programs on the creation of jobs and new strategies.

    But, what we don’t see is the creation of new and inventive ideas by regular NBers, regular people in this province. Our group is designed to bring together job seekers of all stripes in all places (even outside of the province, all with the common goal of wanting to obtain work in this province.

    One thing we think needs to be done is to create discussion forums (in-person, not online) where job market issues can be discussed, can be brought forward, without fear of negative response, in the hopes that concerns of both job seekers and employers alike can be put into the common pile of job market concerns. Now is the time to act and let those in the grass roots level have a real voice. Our group has many people who want that ability to state concerns for what they want and an understanding of the decision making process from employers. Likewise, employers talk of not finding sufficient candidates and they can address the needs and concerns that they have as well. Who is willing to see this developed?

    Note: For those wanting to sign onto our website, start with a reply to this post first (having some technical issues with our site).


    “The voice of job seeking in NB”

  13. David – I read your article on Gerry’s Kids (Oct.29th) and was appreciative of your shining the light on one of the biggest job creation forces in Atlantic Canada ( not to mention the spirtual leader of innovation). To add to your reference to “and many more”..Chris Keevil- President of Colour (Halifax), Karen Radford – former VP at Telus, Dan Doiron – Professor of Innovation and Entrepreneurship at UNBSJ, Joe Mosher- VP Marketing Bell Aliant (retired),Paul Eisner- VP Harris Corporation, Stacy MacNeil- Marketing executive HP in Palo Alto; the list is long. The seeds from the Gerry Tree ( as I think Ian C.coined it) have fallen far and wide, the impact of which over time is profound!

  14. Dear Mister Campbell I enjoy your comments very much. Jean Maurice Simard was a conservative and the provincial budget in 1962 did not include health, education or welfare. If all the people over sixty five vanished today our health care system would cost almost as much to operate as it does today, eventually the costs would be reduced unless the providers found a way to keep the gravy train rolling. I am not anti shale gas but can understand why people oppose it. We have a flawed natural gas delivery model that was created to benefit a few and fleece the many. The present government is attempting to give the Irvings more money through the proposed energy plan that will see us paying them 9 cents and selling the same power back for six cents. The same government is worried that the minimum wage is to onerous. We hqad a select committee on crown land that was stacked with yes people. Mister Alward is to virtuous to release the sealed payout package to David Hay. They look like a bunch of lying scumbags and yet they expect the public too have confidence. I agree that growth is important but controlling spending is even more important. Increased revenue will just encourage the profligate spending every level of government engages in. The price of gas is at an all time low and selling it now would be just like selling your house at the bottom of the market when you know that prices are set to rise.If anyone wishes to convince the public that developing natural gas is a good idea then they need to be honest about the issues. I will have more confidence in your suggestions when you start writing about the costs and problems besetting our province, remember we are working for our grand children. Have a good week tom hickie fredericton

  15. @Ken Kelly
    Why would anyone trust any government, Mister Alward has not earned trust anymore than Sean Graham did. Gas may become a windfall but the proof is waiting to be delivered. I support the exploration but have doubts about the wisdom of developing it at present.

  16. When I moved back to NB from Ontario my income taxes went up by 16%. And the drug benefits are 20% lower than in Ontario. Still like it here but the higher costs don’t help attract migrants from outside Atlantic Canada.

  17. I enjoy your column and agree with most all of your ideas. Especially those on the natural gas industry. I read today’s article about the “angry shale gas opponent”, and just wanted you to know there are just as many of us in favor of this industry as those against it. I have studied them, and a few commonalities appear when you look at the group as a whole. They all have great jobs, or are enjoying retirement. Most are landowners who are afraid of anyone gaining something from this land other then themselves. The retired ones are afraid of a life style change. They know they wont be around long enough to see much benefit themselves, and are fully prepared to let the rest of us deal with their future health care costs. A good number of them are university faculty members. They love seeing their names in the papers. Anything to get published. They are all very, very, selfish. “Angry” does not begin to explain how I feel about these people. They use the environment as a guise for their motives. let me be very clear, it has nothing to do with water! That is a bandwagon they use to get people to jump on board with their cause. It is life style change that they fear. They don’t want to wait an extra two minutes in the drive threw at Tim Horten’s, they are scared to death a gas truck will drive by their house, a drill rig might be in view of their drive home…etc. Water has nothing to do with it. They should at least have the common courtesy to pay for the plane tickets for all of our young professionals they are forcing to move to Alberta. They should also pony up for the fancier MRI units everyone wants so bad. I am sure many of the people up in arms over this decision are the same ones who write their letters, day in and day out, on the evils of shale gas. They want their cake…

  18. I have read your article ” Recasting the Aging population as an Opportunity”. I am utterly excited to read your reaction to the older gentleman who told you in blunt term that he was tired of hearing that older people are a problem.
    I feel exactly the same way he feels, and like this gentleman I rebuke everyone who dare saying that old age is a burden. Sure, it could be, but it is far from being the majority of us. Most of us want to be independent as long as we can. We also take the initiatives to stay healthy, physically and mentally.
    We contribute to the economy of the province with our taxes, we were in the generation who save for our future. now we have money to spend which now can benefits the generation after us.

    Yes, aging could be an opportunity if there were not so many biases against old age. I am 75 years old. I worked until I was 73 years old. I retired, not because I couldn’t work anymore but because I was then living 3000 plus miles away from my native New Brunswick. I returned because I wanted to die among my own. Naively, I thought I could also contribute to the wellbeing of those deared to me.
    I am a retired nurse, have a master Degree in Nursing, I have worked in the health field all my life. During the last 20 years of my career, I taught in a USA Nursing School. I am fluent in French and in Enghish. With all that experience which I am willing to offer in contribution to help in my province, I don’t feelthat I am wanted. And the best I can do is to Volunteer for the Red Cross. They make me feel useful and and in return that makes me happy. I totally agree with Robert Hormats, the United States’ Undersecretary of State for Ecomonic, Energy, and the Environment, who you have quoted as saying “we need to transform our vision of aging from a time of dependency to a time of continual growth, contribution, andsocial and economic participation”. Wow, what a refreshing thought.

  19. David;
    For some time now I have been watching a money pit in action, and think it merits some notoriety, the name of this money pit is: Industrial Rail.
    Since it’s birth, both the feds, and our province have been throwing millions at it in some hope of something, I’m not quite sure what, but I am sure everyone concerned should have been given $100,000, and told to stay home….. it would have been cheaper!

  20. Your article in the Telegraph Journal today states that the federal government spends 1.5 billion on EI in the maritime provinces.
    It’s possible that the amount of 1.5 billion is correct; however, the EI dollars do not come from federal coffers. It is fully funded by employers and employee contributions.
    Some changes are needed in EI. However the money comes from an fully funded insurance plan. Still the Harper government seems to refuse to make this clear to the general population. Not fair.

    Regarding McKenna – I think you are right. Yes, we WILL be hearing from him more and more often. My view of Frank McKenna is also ‘nuanced’ – I believe he ran just a bit too much of a one man show . Too much like the current federal leader, Harper.
    McKenna did manage to make some progress, but his ‘steam roller’ approach meant that he (and his crew) missed a lot of good feedback. Their bull-headed approach wasted a lot of money and many great opportunities. I will be most surprised if McKenna is not pushed ahead as a key candidate for the federal Liberal leader. Let’s hope he has learned a thing or two in the interim.

  21. Mr Campbell. I have followed your articals in the telegraph journal for a number of years and have found you are mostly bang on with your comments, I also find you do your home work looking up info on the articals you print, however your blog in todays paper does not have the true facts about flying to Wabush. The regional airport for northern N.B.is Charlo and to update you there is a direct flight to Wabush from this airport that workers can use to fly to work in this region. If you would need more info about this flight I would be more than glad to give you the info. In closing keep up the good work with your comments about our province.I can be reached by email or phone 684-3534. Reid MacPherson

  22. I would love a professional and unbiased media staffed by smart hard working journalists, but it is not likely to happen. Every day the media is filled with examples of bias or just plainly wrong information. Maine Public Broadcasting presents a fair amount of stories dealing with Maine issues. Our public broadcaster is mostly absent when it comes to presenting information about our province. When has the public broadcaster presented a show from a reservation or from the North. The private media is no better and often ignores stories that should be made public.

  23. Recent reports about the Chicago ship and sanitary canal fail to mention that it diverts water from the great lakes to the gulf of mexico. The media reported it as an important transportation link which it is not due to size and the number of bridges in Chicago that would need to be raised for very narrow boats. The emphasis off the reporting is asian carp

  24. Merry Christmas read your article about tax policy and thought to add my own comments. I am a firm believer that tax policy is a tool for economic control including development. Consider the impact it would have on the province if we gave a tax break to those who live here but work out of province. Why not give new businesses a tax holiday for a few years and then gradually increase the tax. Our governments have chosen to use tax policy and stimulus spending mostly to reward their friends and supporters. Money to Irving does nothing to create jobs or revenue in the province. If high prices and taxes depress spending and business why does high license fees not depress hunting and fishing? tom hickie

  25. In reference to the closure of Canada Bread facility in Grand Falls, NB – At what point will we wake up and realize that we are not in control over much of our economy. When bakery production is irrelevant, we can’t even be competitive in producing the food we consume. I am sure there really is more to the story then efficiency and the price of raw materials, similar to Hub Meat packers,and Larsen Foods, big companies like Maple leaf and the shareholders control the agenda. I would bet money that workers in Grand Falls are as passionate and more productive than anyone in any other part of the country, I would also bet money that employee turnover is non existent, wages are constant, and taxes and other costs are comparable. This is nothing more than corporate consolidation from large companies, that, when faced with tough times, look at marginal operations to make cuts, and unfortunately, there is someone in management who can say “look at how much I saved” and who is looking to look like a hero. To Business NB,I say it is time to get active and more involved in what is happening in our many communities that link our tiny province, for the answer to our current economic malaise is right before us. A real exit interview should be conducted to get the real reason for this operation being shut down. Will business NB look at this move to encourage others to start production to fill the gap and help entrepreneurs infiltrate the grocery giants to get locally produced products listed or will they just believe this is just another victim of the economy.

  26. Hi David: just a quick note to say thanks for your many diverse articles, pleadings, pontifications, opinions and discussion on economic development; keep them coming.



  27. My programmer is trying to convince me to move to .net from PHP.
    I have always disliked the idea because of the costs. But he’s tryiong none the less.

    I’ve been using Movable-type on a number of websites for about
    a year and am concerned about switching to another platform.
    I have heard fantastic things about blogengine.net.
    Is there a way I can import all my wordpress content into it?

    Any kind of help would be really appreciated!

  28. Economic growth may depend on population growth but if so much of the world economy is going to shrink, Countries such as China, Japan and India are ageing and are going to face the demographic cliff. We need to create new economics that do not depend on growth. Our forest policies dictate that fewer people will be needed to harvest and process more fibre and everyone on else and every other use will be prevented from accessing this resource.Most of our policies regardless of any claims are designed to make certain that specific groups benefit from any opportunity such as the natural gas distribution model. This will only change when we have a total meltdown and change is forced.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.