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Vive New Brunswick

New Brunswick, Canada: By and for New Brunswickers, everyone else take off eh!

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

New Brunswick takes another Hit

Before people start thinking this is yet another piece of bad news, well, it is and it isn't. It's bad news, but it's the bad news that really doesn't have too much effect on our day to day lives. It's not like another mill closing, or unemployment going up, or anything like that. In fact, it's purely symbolic, and that really only effects those who put a lot of stock in symbols-most of us have lives.

For many of us, history is something that 'somebody told me...' about. Much of the 'facts' are little jingles that seem to seep into our collective, or individual unconscious. Most of the time we don't even realize that the things we take for granted may never be what we thought they were at all.

If you go to the gnb.ca website then you'll see the link to the 2004 celebrations of the St.Croix island. As we've been told, New Brunswick had the first permanent settlement in Canada. Sure, it was freezing, most of the people died and as soon as the ice let up they let out for the warmer climes of the Annapolis Valley. A bad story, but at least it was a 'first'. I've never been real clear on the whole 'the first to...' theory of patriotism, but hey, you take what you can get.

But wait, did I read that right? Let's go back and check it out at the gnb.ca website....there it is, in black and white...the first FRENCH 'permanent colony! That's right, it's not the first colony at all, just the first french one. Of course we all know that vikings were in Newfoundland long before, but who cares about vikings. Hell, we might as well forget the whole thing since natives were here long before that even.

However, the main point here is that that french 'colony' wasn't the european first. That's right, not only did Newfoundland beat New Brunswick to the punch but so did Nova Scotia. That's right, there's considerable evidence that the Portuguese had a colony in Cape Breton, near Ingonish.

Another interesting anecdote is that the portuguese had considerable relations with many native groups, including the Iroquois where Champlain first heard the term 'Acanata' which later became Canada. Interestingly, the Portuguese found little of value in our fair country, and called it 'hanacanada', which is an old portuguese word meaning 'nothing there'. So not only does New Brunswick come off not well, but it's possible our country doesn't mean 'village' after all.

Read more!

Saturday, April 09, 2005

Taxes, taxes, lets talk taxes

The Atlantic Institute for Market Studies came out after the budget and their reply was typical. Not enough tax cuts. For once I agree with them..partly. This is where I part company with most of these 'economic think tanks' which are more 'political think tanks' than economic. Their economic analyses are more along the lines of Lucy's five cent psychiatric fees she charges Charlie Brown from her little stand. The analogy need not stop there, as any Peanuts reader knows that it is Lucy's pulling the football away from Charlie, sending him flying and leading him to distrust everybody, which leads to his seeking psychiatric help in the first place. The AIMS was set up by the same good people who brought you the Fraser Institute and CD Howe (suitable named for that great canadian patriot who removed every facet of industrialization out of the maritimes to Ontario during the second world war), with much of their income arising from american grants and donations. It's highly doubtful such groups are actually looking out for the interests of canadians....

For a good analysis of how AIMS represents 'average canadians' let's look at one of their 'studies'. In one particular study, the economic figures they use don't even come from Statistics Canada, but from the Canadian Taxpayers Federation. This is a group, well, mostly one guy, who make a point of bullying and threatening any group who wants to dare use 'taxpayer' in its name or marketing. You see, the owners have trademark rights on most variations of 'taxpayer' so that nobody else can claim to be representing...well, just about every canadian. This group is also well known to be aggressively pursuing taxpayer's rights, meaning of course, minimizing taxes. Yet not always. For example they are always touting that Canada spends too much on 'social programs', even though we are quite on par with european nations, and even northern states. Yet they want to turn Canada into the southern states, where the gap between richest and poorest is widest, and social spending is almost nil.

What is interesting, however, is that when it comes to other government initiatives, like say, tax increases for a the benefit of the military, then it is a different story. The group was unabashedly pushing for involvement in the US's illegal war in Iraq, even though it would have crippled our meagre military and thereby endangered their lives. The group had no complaints with the latest budget where military spending was boosted considerably-while the number of children living in poverty continues to climb. Clearly, the federation only supports a certain 'type' of canadian taxpayer as they ensure that nobody else supports the rest (at least not with the name).

New Brunswick, like much of the maritimes, is the perfect place for their brand of economic rhetoric. First, the provinces are socially conservative. In my opinion, and it's just my opinion, this is due to several things, the aging of the population, the lack of proactive universities, the larger percentage of rural population. Those can be debated, but I think most will agree that this is generally the case. I'm not even saying that social conservatism is a bad thing, just that it exists.

So the AIMS brand of 'economic conservatism' fits in quite well. Combine that with a general distrust of politics and politicians in general, and you have more support for at least the idea that 'less government is better'.

In a way I kind of agree. I think the government should have less to do with 'income distribution' and more to do with regulating capital. That way, say you have very little money, the government can regulate it so you pass less for necessities, while somebody who has lots of money would pay more. That's, in a sense, how it's supposed to operate now, but AIMS would like to change that.

That's why you hear general things like 'tax cuts'. Of course they are smart enough not to say 'tax cuts for the wealthy' but in effect that's what it is. If you get a tax cut of 5% more off your income of $20,000 that's $1000 more in your pocket. However, let's not forget how economics works. That increase in your pocket is a decrease in your government's pocket, which means less money can be spent on schools, hospitals and grants to municipalities. Which means property taxes go up, and we've seen that happen. Services are also decreased and any student of political economy can tell you that those people in that income bracket are far more reliant on health, education, and municipal spending, than are the upper 10% of wage earners.

So let's look at that upper end. Say you are making $80,000. Of course there aren't nearly as many of those in New Brunswick as elsewhere, but they are increasing as fast as the poor are. With that $80,000 your tax cut is $4000. However, if you actually look at income taxation quite a different set of rules are at play. This is because often with tax cuts there are also cuts in other things that 'help' the wealthy. This is why in the states we have seen that a typically federal tax cut will result in three or four times the percentage of income that a poor earner gains. As a poor person, there are few 'tax reducing opportunities'. If you ever read one of those monster books published in Canada on 'tax reduction tips' they vary along two lines: maximize your RRSP, and start a business. That's it. Whereas for the wealthy there are impacts in all facets of investments, depending on the type. Property tax on land holdings, estate taxes, investment tax, tax havens, capital gains, and the list goes on. So it's been pretty much established that when tax cuts come along, there's one group who always benefits.

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Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Blessing or opportunity lost?

It's been good news for Nackawic, well, relatively good news, well, actually, news that for once isn't shitty. That's of course that two corporations are going to invest in the mill. This means that the town won't die-at least not yet. Not until the new contract with the government expires-we hope. Don't get me wrong or misunderstand me, under no conditions am I saying that any money or incentive going to rural New Brunswickers is not money well spent. Particularly those whose livelihoods are on the line are quite justified in telling everybody to 'shut the hell up for pete's sake until the contract is signed!' For those who want to say 'well, smartass, what would you do', well, here's my answer.

I'm not pretending to be an economist, or a politician, or anything for that matter. But whenever you question something a government does, there's always pinheads that say 'well, smartass, what would you have done different'. My point is that perhaps I wouldn't have done anything different. The trouble is, there's no way of knowing because they won't tell us what they're doing. For all we know it could be Venezualan energy pills all over again!

There was two comments that gave me real pause in this matter. Real cause to think twice about the whole thing. Then, sunday night it all came together for me, and I'll tell you how....but not yet. First, let's go back to the comments. These came, ironically enough, from their union president. The first was during the crisis itself, when many brave and hopeful souls stated that they should 'own' the mill themselves and with the government help turn it into a 'workers co-op'. 'You deluded fools' said the union, abolish such crazy ideas, at least until things become so bad that you have no hopes of implementing them'. This is perfectly reasonable on the part of the union, even Big Man Buzz Hargrove came and said to get rid of such fanciful notions. For the union, as I said, it makes perfect sense-if there's no employer, there's no union. If the workers themselves own and operate the building then there certainly doesn't need to be an intermediary and what would the union do?

From a worker's perspective, desperate to save their job and their town it makes perfect sense. If the government is putting together a 'package' of aid, then why not put that package to work for the people. It can (and is) argued that the 'people' don't have the expertise to run such an operation. For those such people I have two replies...first, you mean to tell me the previous owners did? It must have been that wonderful expertise that shut down the company in the first place. Do some reading on that british company, they have lots of expertise-none of it in the forestry industry. The only way they've stayed in business is buying off governments for concessions and eradicating all surrounding forests. A retarded monkey could do that with economics 101.

There are some who say, 'but what about the millions the new companies are putting into it'. That's an interesting point, but we must remember that the mill was working til the owners shut it down. There is nothing that NEEDS to be done to it, unless we admit that the government has been letting the place go to hell without inspections-which I haven't heard. I've actually heard that most people from Nackawic think it's a pretty decent place to work. The new owners SAY they will spend millions, but that's to convert it. Such conversions, if worker owned, could be slowly implemented as the investmest is there.

But what about international markets, one could ask. These are complex sales decisions on an international scale. Owners, of course, do not make these decisions any more than the owners would if the workers owned the mill. Part of the operating cost is to HIRE people to do that. Now, even if you fed me that most imagination inducing hallucinogen imaginable, getting me to believe that the company wouldn't actually have MORE money and power to hire competent people than if they had a profit margin and a board of directors isn't an easy task. I know boards of directors. And I know what they do because I've studied and read about them, and know people on them. They do nothing. They are either a)actual owners of the companies themselves, or b) people 'of name value' selected to bring in potential investors.

So with such outright savings from the get go, the only real question is about government involvement. Here's where things get dicey, because as of yet we don't know what those government 'goodies' entail. This brings up the other comment, from the local union leader that

".. did caution mill workers that tough times still may lie ahead. During the press conference attended by about 250 people, he warned union members that they will have to be flexible because much will change at the mill if the companies go ahead with plans to convert the operation to process a different grade of pulp."

Now, when your union leader talks like that it's time to fire them or hang them. If your union talks like that then the province and companies must be talking about selling your children to fire the coke ovens, or telling you to expect the cat of nine tails monday morning.

You even had the paper filled with quotes of people who didn't even mind that they lost their pension-so long as they had work. I am no supporter of violence, but let me tell you that if somebody told me the company I worked for had absconded with my pension, I'd be asking for addresses and reading online instructions for molotov cocktails!

So what is in store? The only REAL good news is that an Indian company is involved. While their plant in Atholville has been sited for pollution violations just like any other, they at least don't have the record that canadian companies have. Comparing owner profits with worker salaries we are still one of the cheapest in the G-8. Salaries, of course, were nominally better than most in this 'minimum wage province', and were enough to live quite comfortably, so long as industry knew their days were numbered and they didn't employ too many people.

Now, for those cringing at the lack of perspective here, I will agree that I have hardly any...not at least until last sunday night. Last sunday night puts my whole arguments into perspective. You might say such idealism is crap and not worth the paper to..you know. And you'd be right, I'm just a butthead shooting off his mouth. But wait...

On sunday night on "The passionate Eye" there was a documentary on Argentina, I believe the company was Zanon Ceramics. Argentina is a place that New Brunswick could well be headed towards, it is the poster child of the nationalization of globalization, where unemployment makes New Brunswick look like FULL employment. Not only is the country destitute now, but keep in mind that it was a scant twenty years ago when unionists and other malcontents were 'disappeared' by being taken by their own government and thrown out of airplanes over the ocean.

At Zanon Ceramics, the company simply shut down the plant and moved on to an even more destitute location. So, the workers took over. Not only did they take over but they fought the government every inch of the way. They had protests, they marched, they stormed the factory. Finally, in a political battle they got the rights to the abandoned building. They built it up and by the end of the documentary they had hired 150 more people.

So is there a lesson for us? In a democratic country where, at least, government doesn't abduct you and drop you off in the middle of the bay of fundy, where at least it's possible to have a discussion over whether taxpayer money should be used to pad another companies bottom line or enable workers to create a business that they won't lose to the vagaries of the decision of a board of directors, who have never set foot inside the plant. There is no doubt that these reasons come to play as government 'works out a complex deal' far from our prying eyes that will enable New Brunswickers, once more, to help out big business as they continue to blackmail governments. Is there an option? Perhaps we can call it "the Argentina option".

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Tuesday, April 05, 2005

On more important topics...

This item is for the commentor awhile back who was complaining, among other things, that among our rising taxes, is now the tax on alcohol. For those who enjoy a snifter or a mug, we can only look back fondly on the days of yore, when rum was shipped up here in kegs. Historically, a lot of emphasis is placed on the suffragette movement of the 1800's, where temperance and womens rights were on the foreburner. However, the main effort of those women was placed squarely on the evils of alcohol BECAUSE of the lack of women's rights. Since women had no rights, men would often get quite inebriated and do all manner of dastardly deeds that endangered house and home. In drunken gambling a man could sign away the family home and the woman could only grimace as she packed her bags, destined for the street.

At the other end we see the incredible employment power of the distillery, brewery and winery. In 1850 there were 10,000 distillers of whiskey in the state of Kentucky, today there is one-Wild Turkey, which employs 600 people. In 1850 there would have to have been at least 10,000 jobs in the trade, probably more. Thanks to regulation and regulation, the same has occurred the world over. I can remember my grandfather saying how after the war he came to Canada to escape the mind numbing bureaucracy of England, in his final days he lamented that Canada was following in due course.

However, for all those lovers of spirits there is still some good news. That, of course, is the brew your own industry. To my mind I can't even imagine why anybody would buy a bottled beer unless it was to support a couple of homegrown success stories like Moosehead or the Pumphouse Pub. Molson and Labatt products have about as much character as an actuary!

If you haven't brewed your own beer then you are missing out. The tools you need cost no more than the price of a couple of cases. The Scoop and Save in Fredericton is a veritable wonder of home brewing products. All you need is a big plastic bucket with spout (usually around $15) and, well, the kit. Of the kit there are so many kinds that it is worthwhile to look at what you enjoy and then search for a similar 'brand'. It's also worthwhile taking a look at good homebrew sites like "realbeer.com" With a cheap kit and tap water you can have 60 beers for around $20, depending on your tastes. I heartily recommend not following the directions completely, for example, NEVER use sugar. Not unless you have the patience of Job. Typically, I am gone through most of the bottles by the time the 'minimal carbonating period' has just ended.

The best thing, of course, is to involve your friends. This will cut down on production costs quite effectively. Only one of the 'reuseable' pieces of equipment is necessary. Especially if you invest a little more for the big glass bottles called 'carboys' which are also around $15. Say a group of four buddies want to do some brewing. Only one bucket is necessary, which means a cost of $4 each. Then, each fella can have his own one or two glass carboys. This is because the bucket, or 'primary fermenter' is only used for about 4 or 5 days, then the yeast is done its eating (for the most part). Then the beer goes into the glass carboy and another one can be done in the bucket. The beer stays in the glass carboy about two weeks and it's ready to bottle.

When it comes to bottling, don't listen to the old rubes. Just head down to the recycling centre and start picking out 2 litre plastic bottles with the caps. Clean them out real good, and that saves TONS of time at the bottling end. The entire process takes about three hours at the most, and you get dirt cheap beer or wine.

The most important thing in home brewing is cleanliness. Everything has to be spotless and germ free. I've just had to pour out 23 litres of beer because it smelled like crap. Unfortunately I now have to replace my bucket, as the stains are ground in.

This is not meant to take the place of the instructions, if you are going to try it then read the instructions carefully, however, there is no reason you can't create specialty beers for a fraction of the price of liquor store beers. For example, when I transferred my beer into the glass carboy, I first took ten bananas, mashed them in some water, boiled for ten minutes to sterilize them and poured it into the glass bottle. Then I filled it with my beer, and voila, banana beer! Of course anything can be used-apricots, berries, pumpkin spices, you name it. For dirt cheap you can drink better than the fanciest Rockefeller.

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Thursday, March 31, 2005

Election engineering-by popular demand

I typically don't read comments, I must admit that I mostly do this for my own edification, and if there are certain ideologies that people think a site should espouse, well, they're free to start one. I really don't want this to be a 'bash Bernard Lord' site, that's why I didn't go with 'bernardlordsucks' or some such thing. However, there's no doubt where the current Premier's sympathies lie. First though, I'd like to discount a commentor's claim that sucking up to big business is 'gutless'; in fact it's quite the opposite. When you screw over the little guy then you know damn well that your car better not break down in Tracadie (for example) on a saturday night. Big business, however, are notoriously gutless. Sure,they won't hire you and will badmouth you in the press, but they aren't going to burn you in effigy or despise you until the end of time. However, to satisfy the critics who simply want the wherewithal to 'get rid of the Premier', here's how you do it...

First though, I want it to be known that I highly doubt that Shawn Graham is going to turn into the white knight many think him to be, however, the point is easily made that we already know what Bernard Lord is doing, so it's not a case of 'better the devil you know'.

All right, let's get down to it. This presumes a couple of things, first, I am not spouting any revolutionary ideas, as I think they are counterproductive here. I wouldn't even condone violence, however, I do support 'taking to the streets'. Yet here I am talking simply about how to get rid of an unpopular Premier, and the only way in Canada of doing that is making them lose an election.

So to do that we have to think the way that campaign managers do. First, I've always been a firm admirer of Elizabeth Weir, and think she would make a far better Premier than anybody we've seen in a long time. However, the NDP has no real hope of replacing Lord. Second, I'm assuming that the commentor yesterday, and those who are adamant about this are actually going to do something, not just continue to gripe and expect that magically a new Premier will appear.

I must admit though that that may happen. All things being equal, New Brunswickers typically have a short fuse for Premiers and they rarely last more than two terms, Hatfield and Mckenna being notable exceptions.

Now, first, check out this link: http://www.gnb.ca/elections/03prov/03provmap-e.asp

That is the electoral map for those too lazy. What is of primary interest is that the Conservative percentages have been falling steadily with each election. What is also interesting is in places where large leads were held over liberals, in many places this past election the seat was barely won. As we know, the conservatives hold a very tenuous grip on power, four seats, I believe. So in effect that's all that is needed. We know that more people voted AGAINST them than for them, what is needed is to combine those people in the ridings that matter.

So let's look a little closer. First of all, there's no point in looking at ridings which have huge differences between PC and liberal voters. In some places, barring huge gaffes or hospital closings, there is simply too large a gap to close.

In looking closely at the ridings, here are some where the PC's won their seats by the skin of their..whatever: Douglas, Fredericton South, New Maryland, Grand Bay, St.Stephen, Keswick, Mactaguac, and Kennebecasis. Now, what is interesting is that last one. Kennebecasis. Here, the PC majority dropped to a tiny lead. So tiny in fact, that if all the rejected ballots had been for the liberals they would have won. Statistically speaking, if you factor in the percentage increase in liberal votes then one can realistically assume that a good proportion WERE liberal votes. The other most interesting spot is Mactaquac. The same story goes there, a huge margin of victory in the final 90's election was wiped out and the PC's only won by a few votes.

So, first of all, with those numbers, we can reasonably assume that Lord knows that his days are numbered. But let's not take anything for granted.

First off, join the liberal party. There's no fee involved, and there's no blood oath, for pete's sake their leaders often cross the floor to the other side, there certainly isn't anything binding on you. You also get more access to the leader, there's no point in replacing one malicious leader if you're just going to get another one.

However, all things remaining equal at this point it is important to look at those two spots: Kennebecasis and Mactaquac, however, to be safe the other ones mentioned are worthwhile, particularly if you happen to live in one of them.

One thing that can be looked at is 'vote trading'. If you do form a group and don't join the liberal party (which would frown on it), then brochures and ads can be directed at voters there. The idea is simple, if they will change their NDP vote to liberal that would elect the liberal nominee, meanwhile, people in other ridings where liberals don't stand a chance agree to vote NDP and help out in areas where NDP have a shot at being elected.

This, obviously, requires organization, and nothing in politics gets done without it. We are all quite familiar with the Irving News and the lengths it goes to to dismiss environmentalists and other 'do gooders'. So the reverse holds true. Start blogs and websites specifically dedicated to those areas. You can go to the legislative assembly site and find out the voting pattern of the incumbents in the aformentioned ridings, and compare them with the liberal platform. This is so that during the next election you can 'target' that specific member. In fact, if the consternation is eating away at you, a good balm is to start now. Get mailing lists for people in those areas, get in touch with the liberal and ndp party to find out which areas typically go which way. Start the drumbeats early with a newsletter showing everything that MLA did in the legislature and what the liberals would do differently. I'm not going to get into detail here, I don't want to start mentioning names or anything, you can go to the gnb.ca website and see for yourself who represents these ridings and what type of governmental 'work' they do. The long and short of it is that considerable effort must be made in these 'swing ridings' where just a few more liberal votes would push them over the top. Find out as much as possible about those ridings and their needs/concerns and whether they are being met. There is a reason that the PC vote in those ridings dropped so dramatically, usually some digging or local news will give some idea. Then broadcast it, start swinging the voters now.

Now, you may say that sounds convoluted and difficult. Well, politics ain't easy and getting results takes work. The question is always how much people want change and whether they are willing to work for it, or just complain about it. As I've said, I seriously doubt Mr.Graham would be much better, but the above blog shows you just how to get him into office if that's the desire.

Read more!

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Power Structures II

A query was made as to why Bernard Lord gets such good press from the Irving paper. So I thought I'd go into a little more detail. Businesses want two things-a healthy business environment, and political stability. This former is obvious, that latter is because as any business person knows, the 'market' is a fickle and dangerous place, it's always nice to have a safe and secure 'back yard'. While the 'status quo' is never quite good enough for us lowly folk, and usually involves cutting services and raising fees, nobody ever really challenges the 'status quo' of capitalism. What exactly does that mean?

A good way to look at that is to look at the states, the so called 'bastion' of capitalism. In 2001 if you looked at the Fortune 100 of the largest corporations in that country you'd find some interesting figures. Out of that 100, 80 of the companies recieved sizeable subsidies and tax concessions from government, while 20 of those were bailed out completely by the federal government. That 'cut throat' economic system of the states is often referred to as 'tough love', meaning, love for the wealthy investors and owners, tough for everybody else!

In the US companies are highly subsidized by various ways, most directly through the Pentagon system which routes enormous amounts of taxpayers funds to various companies, notably high tech and weapons manufacturers. In Canada it functions a little different, instead of a Pentagon there are various government agencies which route a hefty 40% of our economy directly through government. Direct payouts are usually a thing of the past, you see, it was discovered that ordinary folks with a business plan wanted some of that money. This was a worldwide problem so it was written into trade agreements-no more handouts!

For corporations it is something else entirely. You will notice, for example, the complete lack of american or british banks in Canada. The country is effectively run by the insurance and banking industry which were 'protected' by government regulations letting anybody else into the country. What does this have to do with Irving? We're getting there.

The 'right environment' for business consists of many things. When a politician provides the right environment, then they get the praise of the press. In the rest of the country you will note that the business community wasn't completely happy with the Globe and Mail, Canada's largest business paper was just not strident enough, it just wasn't Canada's printed version of 'Fox News', also known as 'propaganda'. So to fill the 'toxic conservative' void "The National Post" was brought on the scene to lower the IQ level of Joe Canuck. When the Post first came out it made aggressive moves to penetrate all the canadian markets, all....except for New Brunswick. They found that there really was no need since 'The Irving News' essentially provided that service already. It consists of a minimal amount of international news reports from media wires, with some local headlines, but composed primarily of 'opinion' pieces and sports. There is virtually no investigative work and no real political coverage. It's doubtful that the average New Brunswicker even knows who may be the Governor or even what type of government is held by the area with which it shares it's longest border (meaning Maine). I"m pretty well read, and I don't know. Of course even more aggregious is the complete lack of information on the basics of how our own government works.

That brings us to the Lord government, with it's policies it has shown that it knows how to 'tow the line'. When it comes down to balancing books and freeing up cash you hit the services that affect people-like social programs, education and health, you don't interfere with business concerns unless it's to lower corporate and business taxes to levels unheard of before.

To return to my argument about Irving and business, 'loan guarantees' are the favoured vehicle. You see, as we saw with the Fortune 100 in the states, corporations are very happy to make the profits, but they don't like to take risks. That's where loan guarantees and other environmental bailouts come it. For example, we see the Irving oil damage done in Fredericton, this is a cost that Irving doesn't maintain-it passes it on to the government and so it doesn't become a fixed cost. We saw the same thing with the Irving Whale which sank by PEI and the Irving's refused to clean it up even though it was laden with PCB's, so again, Joe Taxpayer fronts the cost. In Saint John we see it again with a land gift that is sure to bring a NAFTA challenge which the government, not Irving, will have to pay for.

Yet another example is when Irving registers a new 'stand alone' company. It is not actually standalone-it benefits from the connections and salesforce of all the other Irving companies. Here I am referring to Irving Personal Care Ltd. This 'new' company manufactures diapers. The outlook, we are told, is very positive. However, just in case it isn't the province of New Brunswick fronts a 35 million loan guarantee. This means a more favourable interest rate for the borrowed money, and as a standalone company if they so choose they could always import larger front end costs so that the company initially loses money-meaning that the government would pay for their loan, while they used the freed up money elsewhere. Loan guarantees are worth their weight in gold, but you won't see them for us lowly folks. Say, for example, I wanted to switch my house to solar and electric power. This would be a front end cost of about $30,000, however, the savings I would keep from power bills would pay for it in about ten years-IF I could get that favourable interest rate that comes from a government guarantee. But that isn't likely to happen.

So the Lord government knows how to conduct itself, if it didn't then it would get much worse press. We see that displayed very eloquently whenever somebody dares to mention privatizing the TCH, which would affect Irving's bottom line. As with most opposition parties, you will note far better coverage as Mr.Grahams' 'outlook' is more inclined to agree with the 'business first' philosophy. In New Brunswick there is really no choice, because you would essentially be blackballed from all the provncial papers, making an election campaign extremely difficult to say the least.

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Power Structures

This blog is to reply to the comment asking about the relationship between Irving and the Lord government. These are obviously my views, though I try to back them up and not let emotion take over the argument. As Charles mentioned, there is the concrete manifestation of government-industry collusion. This is where an employee of the Irving, or in fact any large corporation, is hired and works for the government. The opposite also occurs, in fact occurs more often than the former. For many this is their 'reward' for towing company lines while in office, a position that can often result in a short career due to the public's views on the person in question. Sometimes, such as in the case of Frank McKenna, the person will return to their own private practise, if they are a lawyer or a consultant, and here they typically will find many sympathetic clients.

For a corporation this is just smart thinking. If people entering the political game discover that there are no rewards for taking the stand for industry then they might actually, heaven forbid, make a stand for their people. Typically most corporations have little use for these politicians but know that they can tow party lines, so they can tow corporate lines. So they are usually rewarded with chairs on the Board of Directors of various companies in the corporate empire. Most of these jobs are token, but pay quite well so that the politician can live out their days quietly, caring for their loved ones in an equitable manner. Sometimes it is also possible, again in the case of somebody like McKenna, that the person can be taken from their private life and put back in the public life to serve another political function. This is also essentially Paul Martin's story, as a loyal subject of the Power Corporation he was hand picked to lead, joining other Power Corporation luminaries such as Pierre Trudeau, John Turner, Jean Chretien and Brian Mulroney.

In theory I do have some sympathy for those who must lead a party, since international trade agreements, federal policies, corporate interests, and voter's sympathies must be constantly juggled. Jim Irving once proclaimed that his father never lost an election, although many point to Louis Robichaud as a politician who certainly didn't 'tow the line'. Hatfield, likewise, took a gamble on the Bricklin as a product that could extricate the province from the worst of all economies-the oligarchy. It was primarily on the back of the auto pact that Ontario built it's modern economy, at least in southern ontario, and it's at least possible that Hatfield was hoping for such an occurence here.

There is no doubt that should they wish, the Irvings simply walk into the Premiers office and tell him how something is done. In fact, we've seen evidence that this is how they operate at the federal level as well. When you own as much as Irving, or McCain, there is no way that the province can compete. In New Brunswick it is even more crucial, since the Irving's own all the newspapers, which means that even if you make one decision that is unfavourable to the Irvings, it will become frontpage news, and continue to be so until your previous voters are eyeing you with suspicion. This, however, is always the balancing act. Corporations don't like boat rockers, and they don't like change. So a governing party has to essentially 'tow the line' while trying to find underhanded ways of accomplishing their tasks.

When a party does what is expected, it's 'reviews' in the paper will be glowing. We see phrases like 'good governance' and the like. Typically, an opposition leader will have to wait their turn until voters toss out the current incumbent, yet with our voting system the races are usually close. This means that it's even more important to get that good press. This is, of course, why during election campaigns and at other times it is almost impossible to get a clear answer from a politician. Everything must be tested and sent to 'focus groups' since there's no point sticking your neck on the line if voters aren't even going to appreciate it.

Of course, nothing is static in politics or life, sometimes a Robichaud comes along and really shakes things up. Those politicians usually come at a certain time, when certain things need to be done, we have to remember that Robichaud was no saviour to the english in urban areas, far from it. Equality for all means that those current rich have to give something up, which is never a blessing to them.

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