He says that he never meant that Miramichi would become an out-bound commuter city for Moncton, but an inbound communter city for surrounding areas such as Blackville. Is this a case of trying to make the best of unpopular comments or were his remarks misinterpreted? In both yesterday and today's papers, there is only one line on this matter quoted:
You can make the Miramichi a commuter town with a good four-lane highway. And what's wrong with that? As long as they are making the money and going to spend it at Wal-MartIt was interpreted by the TJ, myself and many others to mean that people can leave Miramichi on a good road, go to work in Moncton, and that is all fine and well if they come home and spend their cash at the local Wal-Mart. McGuire disputes that interpretation.
McGuire, who had yet to read his comments as reported in the newspaper, denied Tuesday that he suggested depopulating Miramichi or any of the province's cities.It seems feasible that this is what he meant yesterday, but it is impossible to tell without the full transcript of his comments to the editorial board.
He said that by "commuter community" he meant that workers would commute into, not out of northern cities for the new jobs he sees in the city.
"It will be a recipient of commuters," he said. "The Miramichi will be a receiver ... that's what we think's going to happen."
He said northern New Brunswick will keep its population only if the cities in the north - Miramichi, Bathurst, Campbellton, Edmundston - grow.
He said that smaller burgs around these cities and the southern cities - Moncton, Dieppe, Saint John, Fredericton - will survive if people who live there can commute to jobs in the urban growth centres.
"We're saying, for the smaller communities to survive ... you'll have to commute to work in Miramichi, you'll have to commute to work in Moncton," he said.
"We're saying, you're not going to get 300 jobs in Blackville, you are in Miramichi."
Hence, the task force recommends building good roads between the cities and the smaller towns and villages.
The press is often guilty of taking things out of context, and I think that this may well be the case here. In any event, the premier is quoted as saying "the City of Miramichi has a strong role to play in a self-sufficient New Brunswick," and I suspect even if the advice of McGuire was to shaft the north, it would not happen.
I am going to e-mail the TJ and see if I can get the whole of the remarks McGuire made to clear this up. Wish me luck.