Da Legal Stuff...

All commentaries published on Web Talk are the opinions of the contributor(s) only and do not necessarily represent the position of any other individuals, groups or organizations.

Now, with that out of the way...Let's Web Talk.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

What to Newfoundlander's Think

From Today's Toronto Star

Jun 15, 2008 04:30 AM
Linda Diebel
National Affairs Writer
PETTY HARBOUR, NFLD.–So this cartoon has Premier Danny Williams dropping a few bills into Dalton McGuinty's tin cup and asking his Ontario counterpart, "Know any good Newfie jokes, there Dalton?"

Likely it's the most popular cartoon taped to fridges across Newfoundland and Labrador these days. It reflects the mood of a province whose people haven't had a lot of fun being the butt of "Newfie" jokes over 59 years since joining Confederation.

Until recently, the idea of Ontario and Newfoundland trading places seemed absurd. But an April 30 report by the Toronto-Dominion bank forecasts Ontario is on track to becoming a "have-not" province and Newfoundland set for the ranks of the "haves" – at least according to this country's Byzantine formula for calculating equalization payments.

Thing is, the cartoon by Bruce MacKinnon of Halifax's The Chronicle-Herald, is funny because it isn't mean-spirited. Sure, it's a taste of payback, a bit of a giggle. But there doesn't seem to be a lot of ill will here on the Rock toward Ontarians.

"Yep, we'd help out (Ontario) if we could," said Jody Stack, on a break from stacking bins onto a forklift at the Fisherman's Processing Co-op in Petty Harbour, a hop along the Avalon Peninsula from St. John's. The crab boats were on their way home and their catch would have to be quickly iced and crated for export.

"No harm in that, now is there?" added Stack, 34, a Harbour man all his life. "Things are pretty good for us here, and it's only going to keep getting better."

Last week – another horrendously grim one for Ontario's manufacturing heartland – the Star asked Newfoundlanders about the future and whether it's time for King Ontario to take a tumble.

Uh-uh. Closing an auto plant is the same as closing a fish plant when it's the lifeblood of a community, and people have their own dreary history of seeing dreams and hard work go up in smoke, despite all efforts. They get the pain in Ontario better than most and, by and large, feel empathy.

"Sure, why not help Ontario?" seconded Gail Babstock, 52, a St. John's legal assistant in a red-hot economy. But she's cautious: "It depends on how well off we are. We've been suffering for so long we might be a little greedy at the outset of it all."

Indicators say Newfoundland is booming. While Ontario has lost 200,000 manufacturing jobs since 2002 (add another 2,000 with GM's announcement it will shut down its Oshawa truck plant next year), this province is taking the commodities boom to the bank.

In Petty Harbour, the depletion of cod stocks was devastating, but this year they're dredging the harbour, renovating the docks and the war memorial and welcoming an influx of foreigners, many arriving from Europe in top-of-the-line sailboats.

Offshore oil development is burgeoning, there's nickel in Voisey's Bay, iron ore in Labrador West and, in the capital, the money boys from away are setting up shop to work with the locals.

There's a different feel in the air. Conservative Williams was re-elected in a landslide last fall, largely because he stood up to the oil companies. Stack's a lifelong Liberal but his opinion is common: "Danny's done a real good job for us."

It just may be that a bleak chapter is ending. They're not going down the road to Ontario any more. Yes, they're still flying out on Fort McMurray specials to Alberta's oil sands, divesting whole towns in the process. Husbands, wives, kids – all gone.

But slowly, slowly, Newfoundlanders are coming home. Statistics Canada reported the population increased in the last half of 2007 for the first time in 15 years.

Also, according to StatsCan, the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per capita went from being $10,000 below the national average in 1997 to $10,000 above the average of $46,221 in 2007 – "the largest turnaround in one decade in Canadian history." In contrast, Ontario's GDP per capita in 2007 dipped by 2 per cent to $45,121.
Still, everything's relative. Ontario's big urban centres, notably Toronto, with their financial, communications and information technology sectors are adding jobs, even as the manufacturing base crumbles.

Nobody on the Rock is counting chickens – not when the boom could be in the end, pure finance. Numbers, not real gains for people.

"We haven't seen anything yet," said Babstock. "We've been told by the premier and we're trusting him."
Three generations of her family were having lunch in a harbour-front mall, including her daughter Sheri, 31, who returned from Alberta to teach elementary school, and granddaughter, Paige, 5.

Babstock doesn't anticipate a better life for herself or her daughter, but said, "hopefully Paige won't have the struggles we've had." It's significant, too, she added, her son-in-law, a long-haul trucker since 2001, recently moved back with her daughter from Fort McMurray.

He doesn't have to be away to make a living any more.
Of course, some folks aren't too happy to see outsiders changing the face of their capital. It's not uncommon to pay $300-plus for lunch at a tony new St. John's establishment. Said one observer scornfully: "Newfoundlanders don't do that."

A person can drop a half million or more on a house. "It's the oil guys coming in from Houston, Aberdeen and Calgary," according to Babstock.

Still, on a sunny day last week, Chris Rossiter, 22, and Chris McEvoy, 21, saw their futures as "pretty bright." Both Memorial University engineering students are on work programs with Husky Energy Ltd., a company that recently announced it has regulatory approval to develop its 70 million barrels a day North Amethyst site, adjacent to White Rose off the Newfoundland coast, where Husky brings in 140,000 barrels a day.

"There's more money going into all of our programs (at Husky)," said McEvoy. "Be nice to see all of Canada do good."

But, a true Newfoundlander, he didn't stop there, concluding: "The thing is, how long is it going to last?"


Anonymous said...

Myles - I am quoting a paragraph below from your blog and I have a question. Is it a mistake? 70 million barrels a day seems to be a misprint. I hope though that it is right since it won't take long before we will be a very rich province.

"a company that recently announced it has regulatory approval to develop its 70 million barrels a day North Amethyst site, adjacent to White Rose off the Newfoundland coast, where Husky brings in 140,000 barrels a day".

Patriot said...

No doubt it would be nice but 70 million a day is indeed a misprint. The entire field has an estimated capacity of 70 million in total.

Anonymous said...

Myles - Another welcomed article added to your site.

I have to say Myles I am not at all jealous of any province of Canada and I would love to see every province prosper.

Even though Myles, the province of Newfoundland and Labrador has suffered all of its life without a real market economy, and that is despite its huge wealth of raw natural resources, which always seemed to have benefited the other provinces of Canada but never the province of Newfoundland and Labrador.

I have always failed to understand why Ottawa didn't see to it that some of Newfoundland and Labrador's resource wealth was used to build a real market economy in our beautiful province, instead of allowing our province to exist on equalization. There were many oversights made, I am sure, and, no doubt, many of them were deliberate with the knowledge of what they were doing and why they were doing it. It was all fuelled by greed of the lobbyists and the politicians concerned in other parts of Canada.

Why some of the manufacturing wasn’t placed in the province of Newfoundland and Labrador, especially Labrador where there were so many minerals, for instance the iron ore that could have been utilized to build a car plant or two and then there was the Upper Churchill Hydro electric energy which benefits Quebec and Quebec alone. Quebec has built industry with that coveted hydroelectric resource and it has made Billions over the past 40 years since the contract was signed which augmented their financial coffers greatly. Not only did they get the hydroelectric energy, they got the Kyoto credits which went along with it.

I think the time has now come when the whole of Canada should be boasting a robust economy. I am not thinking in the covetous manner that Canadians were thinking in the past when they thought everything had to be built West of the province of Newfoundland and Labrador and that our province’s raw resources were to be the catalyst to fuel their economies

Now that we are on the cusp of becoming something great economically, we can say that, but before that when we were destitute because we were stripped of our resources, we weren’t heard.

Now the people of Newfoundland and Labrador can make a real difference in that Department. Let us as Newfoundlanders and Labradorians demand that the real market economies be shared and spread right across Canada, something that our fellow Canadians didn’t demand for our province for nigh 60 years, when they were enjoying the benefits from our raw natural resources to build their economies, and they still are on the receiving end of those raw resources such as Hydroelectric Energy, Iron Ore, Nickel Ore, Oil and Fish.

And, of course, to add insult to injury; they were not only successful in toeing our raw natural resources from here but they were also successful in toeing our Human Resource from our beautiful province, as well, to follow and work their own resources in the provinces which became the beneficiaries of our rich raw resources. What a pitiful country to have allowed such an atrocity to have happened.

Yes, we, as Newfoundlanders and Labradorians, do not want the same fate for any other province in Canada. Let us see that this type of abuse stops. Everyone needs to be treated with dignity.

Anonymous said...

I wonder what it would take to get an Inquiry going into the reason WHY the province of Newfoundland and Labrador, which was endowed by nature with so many rich natural resources, became the poorest province in Canada.

I don't think the Inquiry would have to probe too deep to find the answers.

With the Political Patronage System which exists within the Canadian structure, the answer is quite apparent.

Why would it have made sense to the powers that be to have shipped off all of our raw natural resources to the other provinces, which adds untold expenses, instead of having created the Manufacturing centers next door to the raw materials? Besides the province is centered on the Trans Atlantic Shipping routes and is connected to North America.

Nothing makes sense to me when I try to understand the reason why this province is not the hub of Canada. Goods could have been manufactured in this province from our abundant natural resources and could have been shipped westward to the North American Continent and eastward to the European Continents and further a field.

Agnes' grade three teacher said...

"I have always failed to understand why Ottawa didn't see to it that some of Newfoundland and Labrador's resource wealth was used to build a real market economy in our beautiful province..."

Because Ottawa doesn't "build economies."

"Why some of the manufacturing wasn’t placed in the province of Newfoundland and Labrador..."

Because manufacturing isn't "placed" anywhere....

My god, you're stupid. Manufacturing and other forms of economic development occur where people, ya know, human beings, decide to invest their own money, take their own risks, and build stuff. Take a chance, try something different. The problem with the whiners in Newfoundland (and I just mean the whiners, not the rest of us) is they go from cradle to grave believing that government makes the decisions of where businesses go. It continues today, you won't see a shopkeeper reveal a new sign without an MHA send out a silly press release.

Ottawa doesn't "build economies". Ottawa doesn't determine where manufacturing takes place. If you want a "market", then the first step is understanding what a market is and where it comes from. It doesn't come from government.

Anonymous said...

Well Agnes (if that is your real name) you are right, business does grow the economy thanks to investment but government has a role to play in creating a climate that is conducive to investment.

Your over simplification of the process makes it clear that you teach grade 3 rather than university level economics.

Thanks to political games the St. Lawrence seaway cut NL off from trade routes. Thanks to government inacaction NL was not able to benefit from the Churchill river and in having that money lower its debt, lower taxes and create a more positive business climate.

Thanks to government the fishery was destroyed and with it a lot of existing and/or potential value added jobs.

Thanks to government the infrastructure required to make this place more hospitable to business investment was never put in place or, in the case of a railway, destroyed.

Perhaps you'd be better off teaching grade 3 students their letters and leave the realities of economics to someone with a wider view of the world.

Anonymous said...

Which trade routes did the seaway cut NL off from?

Anonymous said...

anonymous of June 16, 2008 9:58 AM - You said:
"Ottawa doesn't "build economies". Ottawa doesn't determine where manufacturing takes place. If you want a "market", then the first step is understanding what a market is and where it comes from. It doesn't come from government."

ANON - Haven't you noticed the Billions of dollars of Federal largesse that have gone into keeping Bombardier afloat over the past 8 years and other industries in Canada? I am not sure what the Feds put into the start up of Bombardier, but I can tell you that Billions and Billions have gone into that industry to keep it alive in the down times of the aerospace industry. That was your tax dollars and my tax dollars. Nortel was also on the receiving end of Federal Tax Dollars and so was the Textile Industry in Huntington, Quebec.

Do you not remember the Federal Trade Missions to Asia during the 1990s before Hong Kong was ceded back to China? Those trade missions not only garnered many business opportunites for many parts of Canada, primarily British Columbia but thousands and thousands of rich immigrants, who were on the move from Hong Kong and other areas of Asia came to Canada as a result and set up businesses. The province of Newfoundland and Labrador was not on the receiving end of any of that business, simply because we were not pitched by Ottawa as a good place to set up business despite our natural resources.

Some other entity might have sewn the seed of a particular Manufacturing idea, but Ottawa with your tax dollar and mine kept those industries going in many cases.

Do you not believe because of the Kyoto Contract which Ottawa is party to that Ottawa doesn't dictate where minerals will go and if another smelter or oil refinery will be built or not?

Did you not notice the pressure which was put on the Voisey's Bay Nickel Ore through columnists who wrote in the Globe and Mail and who lobbied for the Nickel Ore from Voisey's Bay to go to Sudbury, Ontario and Thompson, Manitoba to keep existing smelters percolating. I hazard to guess that there is as much pollution created from transporting that ore to those existing smelters as if another smelter had been built in Labrador.


Anonymous said...

Hi WJM, er, I mean Anon 12:25.

Perhaps you should learn a little about history and you'd know that when the seaway opened up allowing ships to enter into the "Canadian Heartland" (Ontario/Quebec) it killed off eastern ports.

You're such a XXXX.

NL-ExPatriate said...

If there wsa one thing that I would like to see done to help NL develop a market economy it would be to make our link to canada and the US via NS/NB be treated the same as all of those bridges and 4 lane border crossing upalong.

Ever time I hear this national govt preach to the provinces that they should reduce the interprovincial trade barriers I chuckle because her we are in NL and the feds have basically had an Economic embargo against this minority province ever since we were annexed into this systemically flawed democracy of democratic Discrimination against the minority provinces by any and all national parties in favor of winning the next election in the majority provinces like ON/QU where 181 out of 308 seats reside.

It isn't the parties we need to change it is the political system.

NL-First, Equality or Exit!

Anonymous said...

NL should build the TLH and work with Quebec.