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Friday, December 28, 2007

Prosperous Future - Consequences to Come

N.L. braces for prosperous future - and consequences that come with it


The future of Canada's youngest province has never shone brighter. But the prosperity that awaits Newfoundland and Labrador threatens to bring a new set of problems it has never experienced before.

For generations, Newfoundland has struggled with mounting multibillion-dollar debt, staggering unemployment and make-work projects that failed to turn the province's economy around.
National columnists labelled Newfoundlanders "professional welfare cases" - words that still sting many residents here.

But the province's outlook has changed dramatically. Back-to-back record surpluses, growing tourism and a boom in mineral development and the offshore oil sector have combined to make Newfoundland the Celtic Tiger of Canada.

For the first time in its history, 60 years after it joined the country, the province is poised to become a have-province by March 2009 - a great source of pride for Premier Danny Williams.
"We hope to make a significant contribution to this country," Williams said in an interview, echoing the unfulfilled dream of his predecessors.

"We want to pay our way, we want to earn our own keep."

And the boom is expected to last for some time. Primarily powered by high oil prices and expansions in the offshore industry, economists are forecasting Newfoundland to remain a contributor to the federal equalization program for at least 15 to 20 years.

Citing approved and pending developments such as Hebron, the White Rose extension, Hibernia South and the Lower Churchill hydroelectric project, Prof. Wade Locke says Newfoundland is entering a period of prolonged, unprecedented growth.

"If the price of oil falls below US$40, then we've got some issues on our hands here, but nobody's expecting that at this point in time," said Locke, an economics professor at Memorial University.

"All the fundamentals are lining up to provide a sustained increase in economic activity and standard of living and well-being here that up till now has not been realized."

Already, the benefits and drawbacks generated by the province's scorching economic growth of nearly eight per cent this year are beginning to show.

Boutique hotels and upscale restaurants are springing up in St. John's. Help wanted signs hang in the windows of downtown shops. Bidding wars have erupted for houses that would've languished on the market a decade ago.

Home sales in eastern Newfoundland jumped 68 per cent from October to November, the largest single market sales increase that month, the Canadian Real Estate Association reported last week.

The other end of the province is also going through growing pains. Labrador City, fuelled by a soaring demand from China for its rich deposits of iron ore, is experiencing a labour shortage coupled with a housing crunch.

Small businesses have struggled to keep workers, with some having been forced to shut down.
"If you want a real world example of what might happen, have a look at what's happening in Labrador City right now," Locke warned.

Earlier this month, the province projected a historic surplus of $881.8 million, money it will use to pay down some of its whopping $10.8 billion debt and fund an ambitious infrastructure program.

"You'll see new hospitals, you'll see new schools, you'll see vastly improved roads which had deteriorated dramatically," Williams said.

"You're going to see a much more modern Newfoundland and Labrador."

But rising revenues have spawned rising expectations. Despite the new-found flow of riches, the rural-urban gap that divides Newfoundland is expected to grow unless the provincial government devises a plan to share the wealth and stir economic development.

"Anything we do, we want to see that it generates employment," said Steve Carey, mayor of Daniel's Harbour on Newfoundland's west coast.

"If it doesn't generate employment and all of this is just make-work, they can stick it up their ass because it's no good."

Like other small towns, Daniel's Harbour has seen its young leave in droves. Since 2001, its population has dwindled to 288 from 350 - a 17.7 per cent decline, according to Statistics Canada.

"It's just about all of the younger ones, the ones who would be having babies and building homes," Carey said.

"In 10 more years, most of the rural towns in Newfoundland, a good majority, won't exist."
The sudden spurt of affluence is also stoking fears of an anticipated spike in crime.

"Crime does follow prosperity," said Joe Browne, chief of the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary.

Officers with the force have sought the advice of other jurisdictions in Canada that have enjoyed similarly rapid economic growth on how to stem a rise in drug activity.

Investigators have already detected a steady increase in the sale of harder narcotics, such as cocaine, on the streets of St. John's.

"There seems to be more of it available," Browne said, singling out the drug trade as the police force's biggest challenge for the future.

Still, when compared with other regions of the country, the province remains a safe place to live, Browne said.

"We're still a friendly place and I hope that never changes, and we'll do everything on our part to ensure that it doesn't," he said.

"What's happening on the positive side of the province overshadows by a mile our concerns about the increase in crime activity."


Anonymous said...

I am selecting an excerpt from the article above and I am going to ask a question.

QUOTE For the first time in its history, 60 years after it joined the country, the province is poised to become a have-province by March 2009 - a great source of pride for Premier Danny Williams.
"We hope to make a significant contribution to this country," Williams said in an interview, echoing the unfulfilled dream of his predecessors.

"We want to pay our way; we want to earn our own keep." UNQUOTE


That is an erroneous statement if I have ever read one.

Natural Resources, both renewable and non-renewable, from Newfoundland and Labrador have been utilized by the rest of Canada for approximately 60 years now. Those same natural resources created vibrant economies in the rest of the Canadian provinces, and not once have I seen it ever mentioned in any of the articles printed in the National Media. Why do the National News Media and Ottawa not want to own up to what happened to the resources of this generous province as to where the resources ended up creating economies in Canada?

For the information of whoever the author of the above article is, the resources that were exported out of Newfoundland and Labrador to keep refineries and smelters going in the other provinces, with the ores and oil that were taken out the province's ore seams and oil wells, more than paid our way, that is if those resources had been accounted for properly, but it never was recorded or accounted for in a way that was transparent. Then, of course, there was the coveted and clean hydroelectric energy which Quebec profited wonderfully from, and the "fish quotas' which, of course, were expended in a manner where Ottawa saw the greatest profitability for Canada's economic sectors.

When people chose to write articles on the province of Newfoundland and Labrador and talk about our wretched past as it relates to real market economies that were never established, I only wish that they would present all the facts and arguments. There is much information yet to be presented, especially the facts surrounding the rich resources that were exported out of this province for the betterment of maintaining economies and creating new economies in the other provinces.

Myles you are a very good writer and you author wonderfully informative articles, so why do you not lobby the National Papers to have an article printed pointing out the facts of why the province of Newfoundland and Labrador, while being endowed by Nature with so many Natural Resources ended up in the sorrowful and deficient state that it ended up in, that being economy-less. This information has to be presented to the Canadian public, until it is presented factually, I, and many others, will not rest in peace.

By the way Myles I suggested above that you lobby the National Press, I know that you will have to do so, because along with Ottawa, the National Press does not want that information out there for the Canadian public eyes to feast on. They rather let sleeping dogs lie, and for the province of Newfoundland and Labrador to move forward from this point, without ever pointing out the facts and the reason why the province did not move forward with a market based economy for which they always pointed an accusing finger. The National Press were part of the problem since it lobbied Newfoundland and Labrador's resources right out of this province for the benefit of the other provinces economies.

Or maybe at this juncture, Ottawa and the National Press would be in agreement for that information to be divulged, since they know the people of Newfoundland and Labrador are quite aware of the manipulations by outside interests. We are no longer as naive as we were in the past.

Patriot said...

Very good comment Anon. I was wondering how long it would take before someone expounded on the complete and utter incorrectness of that particular remark.

Good on ya!!

Calvin said...

"We want to pay our way; we want to earn our own keep."

I would have to agree with,December 28 , 2007 4:55 PM , Patriot.Not a very wise remark from the Premier to say the least.

Newfoundland and Labrador has given greatly to the country of Canada.Maybe this is were Newfoundlander's and Labradorian's alike feel that there has been a great injustice done to them.

Every country has dirty laundry that they themselve's have created.To think that Canada is out of reach of thease actions would only make Canadains hypocrites if they tryed to deny them.Exploitation of chinese people's to make the railroad.The actions taken agaisnt japanese canadains during world war two.The failure of Term 29 when canada took over control of a soveirn nation.

What do you think would happen if thease action's came to light in a supposedly caring sensitive country such as canada .

We all know Canada has skelton's in it's closets.To Bad Premier Williams does not care to share this knowledge with the rest of our fellow canadain's