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Monday, May 25, 2009

The Demise of Newfoundland & Labrador - Manufactured Right Here

What do hand soap and bathroom tissue have in common?

Both can be found in the bathroom. They are both considered basic necessities and, as far as I can tell, every scrap of either one used in Newfoundland and Labrador is imported from someplace else.

Why is that?

I mention those two products simply as an example but the same holds true for much of what we consume in Newfoundland and Labrador. For centuries our people have been contented to import almost all of the basic necessities of life while exporting our valuable raw materials elsewhere.

Will this outdated and short sighted practice ever end?

I recently read an article out of Memorial University that was written nearly a decade ago. One passage noted, “Newfoundland continues to import many of the products its people consume while exporting primarily raw materials, a trade imbalance which has served to exacerbate the island's economic troubles.”

I couldn’t have put it better myself.

Before Confederation our biggest trade imbalance was with the United States, afterward it was (and is) with Canada. Only the players have changed, the game remains the same and it’s a one sided game that’s not in our favor.

The reality of 1949 is that many of those who voted for Confederation did so because they hoped for lower prices on imporated products. Very little consideration was given to producing many of those products, and related jobs, right here.

For as long as anyone alive today can recall Newfoundland and Labrador depended primarily on two major exports, fish and forest products. Today Newfoundland and Labrador’s economy isn’t as dependent on the fishery or the forest as it once was but the numbers show that little has changed with the overall picture of where we once were and where we are now.

In 1948 fish and fish products accounted for 40% of Newfoundland and Labrador’s exports, pulp and paper products 32% for a combined total of 72%.

These days (as of 2007 anyway) energy exports accounted for (wait for it) 72% of the Province’s exports.

We’ve traded fish and forests for oil and gas all the while continuing to import the vast majority of our manufactured goods.

Either way you slice it the Province still exports its resources instead of creating value added products for the local and export markets.

It seems we’d rather ship off our raw materials instead of creating a genuinely diversified economy through manufacturing right here.

Even after centuries of economic turmoil we've yet to learn the lesson that ending our narrow minded practice of exporting all raw materials and instead increasing our manufacturing capability will help us become a more economically stable place to live.

Increased manufacturing and local purchasing would eventually improve our export values, decreasing our import costs and create much needed employment. Something that might be quite helpful in an area accustomed to double digit unemployment.

The fishing and pulp & paper industry are now mere shadows of what they once were in Newfoundland and Labrador. Eventually the same will happen to the oil, gas and mining industries.

Unlike Fish and forests (both currently mismanaged) oil and minerals are non-renewable. Once they’re gone they’re gone. When that happens, as it surely must, gone as well is the last of the work in Newfoundland and Labrador. Gone as well are the exports and the Province’s revenues. Newfoundland and Labrador will cease to exist in any relevent way.

Why, after 500 years have we not learned from our past?

Why do we continue to depend on others to manufacture the goods we depend upon instead of supporting, encouraging and facilitating the development of local goods through our purchasing power and with provincial incentives?

Until the public demands more locally produced products at their favorite stores nothing will ever change.

Make no mistake, the Wallmart’s and Sobey’s of the world don’t give a damn about where they buy their products as long as their customers keep coming back. They also don't care who they sell them to and won’t hesitate to pull up stakes and move elsewhere when the resources and money run out.

The way I look at it, a simple bar of soap may not be as glamorous or as lucrative as high seas oil development but after a hard days work on the rigs I defy anyone to tell me it isn’t worth producing.


Anonymous said...

Most, if not all your antecedents arrived in newfoundland 150 years ago.

500 years is the scope of tangential settlment, be it french, norse or basque, by a variety of parties. It does not refer to any continuous unbroken continuity.

Ussr said...

More loosenuts ,from the peanut gallery there Patriot. This is what I mean about those amongst us. Look at this ill informed individual. Anon, can I ask you a simple question?” What do you make of the paper that was produced by the University of Toronto for the Canadian Auto Workers Union ,or better known as the C.A.W which states ,and I will quote ,” that if Ontario were to stop producing for Newfoundland and Labrador, that it would in fact cause a recession in Ontario. And that, there is a trade deceit between the two Provinces of 80%, to Newfoundland’s mere 20%.

As a matter of fact Patriot, I will state that I posted that said study on your Blog sir, Ummmmmmmm, I would say at least four times.

So anon, are you now saying that you don’t agree with the good professor, and OH please don’t ask me to go fetch that for you .I’m sure that someone at your level of understanding would know how to find such said study .

Gee Patriot, I almost miss not having WJM around,...............................Is poor ole captain green still ranting . :)

“Forever Republic Of “

Anonymous said...

"any continuous unbroken continuity." - are you saying that we should just walk away from what is ours !!!

Anonymous said...

Merely bringing to light a grevious material fallacy.

Anonymous said...

Patriot - What is the matter with our people when they allow our natural resources to slip away to create economies in the other provinces and countries of the world?

Is it that most of the Newfoundland and Labrador electorate are so unaware of what is going on around them, and as a result of that lack of information of the resource base that their province contains and its great location, that the electorate do not hold our politicians responsible?

One can only work on the informative knowledge that is passed on to them, by those in charge, for instance the politicians whom we elect to do what is right for us. Without the necessary information, we would all end up like Computer Hard drives before any information is added to them. That, in my opinion, is how the people of Newfoundland and Labrador were treated by their politicians, don't give them knowledge and they will NOT know of anything that is going on around them. That is the reason our resources were shipped out of the province of Newfoundland and Labrador for the 60 years we have been part of Canada. I might add neither did other Canadians know that the province of Newfoundland and Labrador was contributing so greatly to their country, since to apprise the rest of Canada of what was being shipped to them from the province of NL was to risk informing the people of Newfoundland and Labrador how they were being robbed of their life's blood, their resources.

After all patriot our resources do not rise up out of the ground and the ocean and present themselves to other parts of Canada and the World to be processed and refined. First of all, in some government Department in St. John's and Ottawa, our resource development must be discussed and from there decided on where they will be exported to create the economies.

What did our politicians receive for keeping silent and allowing NL's resources to be shipped off to other locales to create economies? Were their pockets promised to be stuffed for the rest of their lives to allow that to happen?

But speaking from my own awareness, with one exception, that of the Voisey's Bay Nickel Ore being discussed inter-governmentaly very non-transparently, I cannot remember any of our other great natural resources being discussed, as to where the electorate of Newfoundland and Labrador could have had some input.

I might add a certain Federal Liberal MP was sent down from Ottawa and became Premier of the province to do the dirty deed of sucking the top grade, largest Nickel deposit in the World, that being Voisey's Bay Nickel ore out of the province to be smelted in two smelter hungry Central Canadian smelter towns, Sudbury, Ontario and Thompson, Manitoba. As I said everything on that matter was clued up before the people of Newfoundland and Labrador had a change to have any input.

Anonymous said...

Just curious:

What did your source indicate was the value of goods and services imported from other Canadian provinces compared to the value of goods and services exported to the rest of Canada after Confederation?

Anonymous said...

Soap and toothpaste are made in China these days. Not much is made in Canada or the US.

That's because China can make this stuff cheaper and easier than we can voer here.

Did you ever do a basic economics course?

Patriot said...

My source was stats can.

To Anon 10:13, yes I have taken economics courses. A better question might be whether or not you've ever mastered basic reading comprehension. It has to do with reading and understanding silly things like context, direction and meaning rather than simply digesting individual words. I'm pretty sure I know the answer to that one.

Patriot said...

My source was stats can.

To Anon 10:13, yes I have taken economics courses. A better question might be whether or not you've ever mastered basic reading comprehension. It has to do with reading and understanding silly things like context, direction and meaning rather than simply digesting individual words. I'm pretty sure I know the answer to that one.

Patriot said...

Correct, go look it up yourself. I told you were it was and I see you've figured out out to use a computer on the web so you're almost there.

see, wasn't that easy.