Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Self-Sufficiency update

Today's Telegraph-Journal responds to the criticism from all corners about Francis McGuire's comments on urbanization yesterday. As I wrote, I was pretty wary of some of McGuire's conclusions but thought that he had the right formula which would actually deliver good results for rural New Brunswick. It seems McGuire had that conclusion as well.

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-Mart
It 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.

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.
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.

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.


Anonymous said...

bonne chance ;)

nbpolitico said...

Yeah, so far no reply. I hope I will at least get a PFO letter.

Anonymous said...

"You can make the Miramichi a commuter town with a good four-lane highway."

This is what doesn't make the inbound idea sound reasonable to me. If people are travelling INTO Miramichi, they might come from Blackville, Rogersville, Sunny Corner, Neguac, Rexton, Allardville, Baie St. Anne. What is A good four-lane highway going to do for that?


nbpolitico said...

Rexton is a bit far now, with a proper highway you could draw them for sure, especially in winter, and could go further to bring in Bouctouche, Tracadie, Boiestown, etc

Anonymous said...

Trouble is, with good highways most of those towns are equidistance from TWO cities. So it really WILL be like the thirties and competition between cities will get even more fierce, even while most cities elsewhere are getting more united.

nbpolitico said...

Better to have a little competition between Miramichi and Fredericton or Miramichi and Moncton than to have do economic growth or proper infrastructure.

Anonymous said...

You won’t get a transcript because there probably isn’t one. There are probably notes that two or three people took during the ed board and what do you expect them to do – scan them and e-mail them to you? The original story and the original interpretation were correct. The story which run the next day muddied the waters not because of a nefarious T-J bias but because somebody on the night desk was incompetent and provided a platform to McGuire to backpedal and cast doubts on the original report. I don’t think they even now understand what they did. The story in today’s paper should clear things up a bit. It is very much the story that should have run yesterday, but, unfortunately, it did not.

Anonymous said...

What I was trying to point out above is that people travelling to Miramichi might come from 7 different directions. What is ONE four-lane highway going to do for that? And I say ONE because the reference was to "A good four-lane highway."

But, ONE four-lane highway can take people out of Miramichi in whichever direction you wish.


nbpolitico said...

anon at 10:48 - have you ever been to an editorial board meeting? There conversations are always taped and usually transcribed afterwards. I asked for one of the following:

a) a transcript
b) an audio file
c) the lines spoken before and after the quote

Marg - I think that the plan from all is to twin all the major highways in NB going forward - this includes 8 and 11 which would make for four roads in and out.

Even if it is just one - it still makes for two roads, from Miramichi's perspective, one on either side.

Anonymous said...

Here: Turns out the first version was correct, this guy really is crooked as a branch:

Translated from l'Acadie Nouvelle of January 24, 2007 but quoting an

interview in TJ (I haven't found what date yet!)

(1) "Miramichi must become a suburb of Moncton linked by a 4-lane

(2) "Development of the North is utopia because of it's

And my favorite!

(3) "Depopulation will happen anyway. We can let it happen or
accelerate it."

In front of the NB Economical Council in 2003 he said (translated
from French):

(1) "We have to stop thinking that for every 1$ invested in the
South, we automatically have to invest 1$ in the North" (as if somebody had been thinking that!)

(2) "In the next few years, we will see banks and large chain stores
move away from the regions. Credit Unions and Co-ops will have to
play a greater role" (that may be true)

(3) "When I was in government, I was often told: You have done this
in one region, why would we not expect the same in our region? I
replied: your needs are not the same. For me, planning has to occur without looking at the neighbors."