Letters to the Editor

Friday, 30 September 2011

Blogger LeBlanc negotiates his way into the PC AGM

Blogger Charles LeBlanc is well-known around the province, but that wasn't going to get him access to the PC annual general meeting today in Fredericton. LeBlanc doesn't hold credentials from the NB Press Association, so organizers weren't going let him report on the happenings at the Tory event taking place this weekend at the Fredericton Inn.

However, that didn't stop LeBlanc as you will see in the videos below. After first trying to negotiate his way in, then being denied access - whereupon LeBlanc threw a fit and threatened to invoke his sway with the Premier - it was decided he would be granted admission to the event. Since LeBlanc is a member of the PC party, organizers let him in on that basis, but with the proviso he behave as a civilian, not a blogger taking pictures and video. This placated LeBlanc and he happily went into the building later in the day.

It remains to be seen whether he can abide by those rules and make it through events without recording himself or others at the convention. As we here at The Purple Violet Press often say to Mr. LeBlanc, "Toi must see everything!"

Blogger LeBlanc doesn't react well to being denied access to PC AGM

Blogger LeBlanc granted access to PC AGM as PC member

CBC.ca reports on anti-shale gas protest today at PC AGM

Anti-shale gas 'fracktivists' protest outside the PC annual general meeting in Fredericton today

Anti-fracking activists protested the PC AGM starting today at the Fredericton Motor Inn in Fredericton, and will continue over the weekend. (Photo: Cheryl Norrad)

Anti-shale gas protesters handed out leaflets to members of the public arriving at the Fredericton Motor Inn for the PC party AGM this weekend. (Photo: Cheryl Norrad)

A hardcore anti-shale gas activist protests outside the PC AGM today in Fredericton, doing her own sit-in since she can't stand for long periods. (Photo: Cheryl Norrad)

The newest member of the PC party holds his registration form today at the Fredericton Motor Inn. (Photo: Cheryl Norrad) 

"Wake me up when September ends."  (Photo: Cheryl Norrad)

PC party executive director Jean-Paul Soucy models the latest in PC swag available at the party's AGM happening this weekend in Fredericton. (Photo: Cheryl Norrad)

A Fredericton City Police officer reads a leaflet handed out by anti-fracking protesters at the PC AGM at the Fredericton Motor Inn today. (Photo: Cheryl Norrad)

Fredericton City Police arrived at the Fredericton Motor Inn today at the behest of management, who said patrons were complaining of harassment by anti-fracking protesters handing out leaflets at the main doors. (Photo: Cheryl Norrad)

Fredericton Motor Inn management asks 'fracktivists' to leave premesis

Fredericton Inn Manager Darrell Brewer asks anti-shale gas activists to leave the hotel's premesis today after receiving complaints of harassment from PC party members arriving for the party's annual general meeting this weekend. However, activists denied the harassment claims, saying they approached members respectfully when handing out leaflets quoting Premier David Alward's concerns against shale gas. Alward made the comments last year when he was Opposition leader.

FPD asks 'fracktivists' to leave Fredericton Motor Inn premesis

Backing up the management at the Fredericton Motor Inn today, city police tell anti-shale gas activists to remove their protest off the hotel's private property to the public sidewalk out front. The hotel claimed it received complaints of harassment from patrons. The activists were surprised by this request since they had been quietly handing out leaflets to people arriving for the PC party annual general meeting being held at the hotel this weekend.

'Fracktivists' protest against shale gas at NB municipalities meeting in Fredericton this morning

Mayors and councillors from around the province are gathering in Fredericton this weekend for The Union of Municipalities in New Brunswick meeting. (Photo: Cheryl Norrad)

A small group of anti-shale gas 'fracktivists' came out to make their feelings known to the province's mayors and councillors at the Union of Municipalities in New Brunswick meeting in Fredericton today. (Photo: Cheryl Norrad) 

A tool from the Fracktivist's Survival Kit - an industrial strength tape measure to ensure protesters remain within public boundaries when demonstrating. (Photo: Cheryl Norrad)

Mayor Woodside testy with media on shale gas questions

At the Crowne Plaza hotel this morning in Fredericton for a provincial municipalities meeting, Mayor Brad Woodside was questioned by the media once again on the city's refusal to formalize legislation to prevent fracking within city limits. Woodside's surly response betrayed his annoyance with the question, ending by his storming away from further discussion.

The city has said several times it will not allow fracking in Fredericton, but has put no formal legislation in place to prevent it. Council has been on the hotseat over the matter by worried activists, who fear the city's decree not binding enough to stop the shale gas industry from moving into town. The most recent confrontation came when activist Mark D'Arcy crashed a council meeting a few weeks ago, to the consternation of the Mayor, who chastised D'Arcy in the chamber for speaking without being on the agenda.

For Woodside, the city has already answered the media's questions on it's shale gas position. He looked frustrated as he left protesters standing on the sidewalk at the Crowne Plaza hotel, while they were shocked at his blunt dismissal.

Tar Trek: A teenage take on Alberta's Tar Sands

What a fracking mess! Week 8 and the protest rolls on...

Upwards of 50 people came and went over the four-hour period of the anti-shale gas protest in front of the Centennial Building in downtown Fredericton today. (Photo: Cheryl Norrad)

An anti-shale gas protester makes his feelings known about Premier Alward in the next provincial election. (Photo Cheryl Norrad)

In a movement that values energy conservation, a member of the anti-shale gas movement noticed the lights were on in almost all of the offices in the new, but as yet unoccupied, Chancery Building downtown across from the Centennial Building where an anti-shale gas rally was going on. (Photo: Cheryl Norrad)

 Green Party interim leader Greta Doucet attended her first anti-shale gas rally in downtown Fredericton in front of the Centennial Building today. (Photo: Cheryl Norrad)

Premier David Alward met with anti-shale gas protesters today in front of the Centennial Building downtown, while protests made their feelings known on the subject. (Photo: Cheryl Norrad) 

 Blogger Charles LeBlanc schmoozes with the Premier today in front of the Centennial Building during the weekly anti-shale gas protest in Fredericton. (Photo: Cheryl Norrad)

People's Alliance of New Brunswick leader Kris Austin gets the Charles LeBlanc seal of approval today at the anti-shale gas rally in front of the Centennial Building in downtown Fredericton. (Photo: Cheryl Norrad)

Finance Minister Blane Higgs, right, was on his way into a finance meeting in the Centennial Building today while the anti-shale gas protest was going on outside. (Photo: Cheryl Norrad)

In Premier Alward's parking spot today at the Centennial Building was a Kia Hybrid SUV. Is this part of green initiatives being enacted by the province? (Photo: Cheryl Norrad)

Thursday, 29 September 2011

Under 30 on shale gas industry in NB

Often as we travel around to the different shale gas events held in the province, we don't see many faces representing the under 30 demographic. This is the generation that will be most impacted if the shale gas industry continues in the province. Below, two under 30's give their opinion on shale gas NB, and how it can be replaced with other industries more sustaining and economically viable for young people in the province to build a life on.

Green Party on shale gas

Greta Doucet, interim leader of the Green Party of New Brunswick, was on hand at the Centennial Building protest today. Ms. Doucet gave her party's stance on the shale gas industry in the province, and the Green Party's plan for building a more sustainable way of life for the people of the province.

People's Alliance on shale gas

People's Alliance of New Brunswick party leader Kris Austin stopped by the Centennial Building today to listen to protesters, and give his party's take on how well the Alward government is doing in its campaign  for the hearts and minds of NB citizens on the industry in the province. Austin said his party is calling for a moratorium on any futher work by the industry in New Brunsick. He wants the government to stop shale gas exploration and do better research on the issue before moving ahead.

Premier Alward meets with anti-shale gas protesters today

Premier Alward on blogger access to government

Fredericton Mayor had police at council meeting to deal with unruly elements

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Charles LeBlanc in court today

Local blogger Charles LeBlanc will be in court today at 1:30 pm over the ticket he received some months ago for breaking a Fredericton city by-law by riding his bike on the sidewalk.

LeBlanc is also dealing with another related matter that had him in court last month after breaking another city by-law by disturbing the peace in front of the Fredericton Police station. LeBlanc was protesting the bike ticket, and an earlier one for riding his bike without a helmet, using a bullhorn that roused the annoyance of locals who complained to police. The disturbing the peace charge landed him in jail for 48 hours after refusing to sign an undertaking. LeBlanc claimed he wanted his day in court over the matter by not signing the papers. He said he wanted to make the unfairness of the issue public, since others ride a bike on the sidewalk without being cited by police.

LeBlanc felt singled out on the minor infraction of riding his bike on the sidewalk, saying police are aware he is on social assistance and couldn't afford the fines, leading him to believe police were discriminating against the poor. LeBlanc also believes he was targeted by city police on the request of Legislature Sergeant-at-Arms Dan Bussieres, someone Leblanc has had a long-running feud with after being evicted from the building by Bussieres. After finding out from an anonymous source it was indeed Bussieres who laid the complaint and police acted on his word, LeBlanc was emboldened to point out the seeming discrimination and expose the collusion between police and Bussieres by going to court.

LeBlanc's next court appearance is slated for October 28 in answer to the disturbing of the peace charge.

Pre-Court LeBlanc shares concerns about third-party complaints to police

LeBlanc court date 2012

Fredericton blogger Charles LeBlanc was back in court today to plead on a charge of allegedly breaking city by-law T-4, Section 16, or driving a bicycle on a city sidewalk. LeBlanc pleaded not guilty after the charge was read to him by provincial court judge Julian Dickson, while Crown Prosecutor George Kalinowski looked on. 

LeBlanc stood in for himself at today's proceedings, but became confused by procedure when he learned the information against him was processed in the name of the City Summons Clerk, not the complainant. LeBlanc asked Judge Dickson to explain the role of the Clerk, whether the city police involved in the complaint would be present and who the witnesses are in the case. Dickson responded that wouldn't be known until the trial which was set for February 29, 2012 at 1:30 pm in court room one.

LeBlanc also requested a prosecutor from outside the Fredericton area, citing possible conflict of interest issues due to the fact his reputation as a notorious blogger might influence local prosecutors.

After deciding on a court date, Judge Dickson asked LeBlanc if he had anymore questions. LeBlanc stated he was afraid since the current charge came about by a third-party complaint made against him, without police observing the by-law infraction directly. He is worried about possible future accusations for himself and for others who are the victim of third-party complaints.

LeBlanc again asked the judge who the witnesses against him were in the case. At that point Kalinowski interjected, saying the city will provide LeBlanc with the disclosure papers before trial, making him aware of the parties involved.

Today's court appearance comes on the heels of another last month of disturbing the peace. LeBlanc was cited for breaking a city noise by-law after residents and workers complained about him shouting through a bullhorn downtown in front of the Fredericton City Police headquarters. LeBlanc was protesting against the police for what he saw as discrimination when he was cited for riding his bike on the sidewalk, since it's often done by many in the public whom the police ignore. LeBlanc has said in the past police know he is on social assistance and can't afford to pay the fines, making him conclude he was discriminated against for being poor.

At issue for LeBlanc is police didn't directly witness the alleged by-law infraction. A complaint was laid by a third party, who, LeBlanc later learned from an anonymous source, was Legislature Sergeant-at-Arms Dan Bussieres. The two have had a longstanding feud after LeBlanc was banned from reporting at the Legislature by Bussieres some years ago. LeBlanc believes police are colluding with Bussieres  to silence him since he is a strong advocate for social justice in the city, sometimes being aggressive in his tactics with local officials and provincial government employees. He is worried that a dangerous precedent could be set where third-party complaints can subject anyone in the public to charges.

LeBlanc plans to follow up with the city for disclosure documents in a few weeks.

LeBlanc post-court on biking in F'ton, being singled out and why he want's a different prosecutor

Post-Court LeBlanc vows to aggressively pursue injustice of third-party complaints and wants courts to grant media access to record proceedings

New Letter to the Editor

Celianne Cormier of Mundleville, NB sent us a letter tonight outlining her concerns about shale gas for citizens and their descendants. It is a strong piece reflecting her feelings around the implications of the industry in this province. We hope you will give it a read. Click on the Letters to the Editor button above.

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

New Letter to the Editor

Although we have blocked regular comments, we are still allowing readers to send informed comment in letter to the editor format. Please remember to add your name, address and daytime phone number where you can be reached (the latter two will not be published) in order for the letter to be on our site. For any other details, please read our policy on letters to the editor above.

The latest letter to us is from Greta Doucet, the interim leader of the Green Party of New Brunswick. She comments on Premier Alward's view on how this province gets it's transfer payment money from Alberta gas development.

We are open to receiving letters from all sides of the shale gas debate. We hope to hear from you.

CBC's Land and Sea program on NB shale gas

Excellent article on NB's shale gas dilemma

Shale Gas Forum complete report and contact info for Natural Gas Group

The Purple Violet Press has recently come into possession of the complete government report from the June 23 forum on shale gas. It identifies the players, and what their comments were on the issue. Please contact us at our e-mail address to be sent a copy of the report, in English or in French.

This publication also received an e-mail contact for the Natural Gas Group. Since no contact information of this organization overseeing the shale gas industry in New Brunswick has been publicized, perhaps the e-mail address could help the public get in touch with the organization. The e-mail address is the following: naturalgas@gnb.ca

Switzerland joins ban on shale gas

CBC's Segin and Forrestell interview Premier Alward on first year in office - mentions shale gas

Monday, 26 September 2011

Editorial - Video coverage not welcome at Fredericton City Hall? Enact a policy.

Although there is no policy regarding videotaping at Fredericton City Hall, we were recently informed that we cannot take any further video footage in the public reception areas of the building - unless permission is granted first.

Saying the videotaping was done without knowledge or consent of city staff, and was disrespectful to their work place, City Clerk Brenda Knight threatened privacy implications in an e-mail, declaring written or verbal consent of city employees was necessary before taping could begin.

The backstory on this began when The PurpleViolet Press was asked to accompany Friends of the UNB Woodlot member, Mark D'Arcy, to city hall. D'Arcy wanted to present a letter to the City Clerk requesting a place on the agenda for the next city council meeting to discuss the issue of shale gas within city limits. It was our understanding repeated requests by D'Arcy to meet with city council had gone unanswered, and although he was granted time with the city's Public Safety and Environment committee, he has yet to speak to council as a whole.

D'Arcy has been a thorn in the side of the city for several years on environmental issues. Having crashed the last city council meeting, D'Arcy hasn't endeared himself to Mayor or Council. But by continually refusing to grant him a date with the entire council, it gives the impression the city's annoyance is overshadowing a citizen's right to be heard. Simply because a member of the public is perceived as a nuisance, should that be a reason to continually put him off? Why not give him a date, hear him out and be done with it?

By doing so, this publication wouldn't have been called upon by D'Arcy to videotape the receipt of his request letter being signed and dated by the City Clerk. And city employees wouldn't have felt their privacy invaded.

To wit, Ms. Knight said in her e-mail:

"We are not elected officials - we are public servants - we are here to serve the public, with due consideration from the public that our personal workspace is private. For example, family pictures or confidential information that might be in view within a personal workspace might create privacy issues when posted to an internet site."

The Purple Violet Press checked the video before posting to ensure none of these things were visible.

Knight also failed to mention an assistant informed her a member of the public arrived at reception asking to see her, but made no mention of our videotaping the scene. Shouldn't the assistant bear some responsibility for not making her superior aware of our presence; giving Knight the choice to be on or off camera?

However, we do understand the position of city staff and respect Ms. Knight's point.

Up to a certain extent.

The city, by virtue of not having a policy on videotaping within its public reception areas, has been remiss in protecting it's employees. If staff don't want to be confronted by a frustrated public, who've asked the media to accompany them to city hall, on why matters have been left with no redress, they should ask their employer to enact a policy.

When members of the public feel they have been denied a fair hearing over and over by procedure and bureaucracy, it should come as no surprise that public arrives at city hall with media in tow. In this instance, employees were recorded in a professional manner and we remained silent throughout D'Arcy's dealings with city staff. Furthermore, no one voiced dismay at being videotaped, nor asked us to turn the camera off, and we identified ourselves to Knight before leaving the building.

We know and appreciate the hard work of the city's public servants, having once worked for the city ourselves. There is no pleasure in accompanying a member of the public to city hall to confront officials on videotape. But council must acknowledge its citizen regardless of past dealings, and be responsible for employees who've been left exposed to deal with what it refuses to.

PVP Poll - Results are in on Charles LeBlanc returning to Legislature

So the results are in on our poll as to whether Charles LeBlanc should be allowed to return to reporting at the Legislature and the ban from there rescinded.

Altogether 232 votes were cast. (And we assume voters were honest in the procedure and only voted once).

The majority who voted say Yes unequivocally without conditions that he should be allowed back in. 111 were a definite Yes. That's 47%.

Twenty-five people said No unequivocally; that he should not be allowed to return to reporting at the Legislature and the ban upheld. That's 10% of the vote.

On whether Charles should be allowed back to the Legislature and the ban rescinded but with conditions attached, 48 people or 20% of the voters said Yes.

And finally, those definitely against Charles being returned to the Legislature and keeping the ban in place indefinitely were 48 or 20% of those who voted.

Looks like the yea's have it. Charles LeBlanc should be returned to the Legislature and the ban rescinded.

Friday, 23 September 2011

Premier David Alward chats about fracking in New Brunswick

Premier Alward sat down for a chat with Charles LeBlanc a few days ago to review his year in office since being elected last September. Charles was kind enough to give us permission to use this portion of the interview where Alward discussed the shale gas industry in the province.

- video courtesy of Charles LeBlanc

Feds initiate fracking study

NOTICE FROM MANAGEMENT: Comments are suspended

Comments on this blog have been suspended until further notice due to the many inappropriate messages submitted to management for publication. Although we outlined our requirements to comment on stories on this blog in our policy section, many have not respected it. Therefore, we have no choice but to shut the service down.

We are sorry we can no longer provide this service to readers who have made informed comments in the past, or want to in the future, pertaining to the subject matter. Unfortunately, the environment has been poisoned by those who have a mental illness and aren't aware of it, or are aware of it but have refused to seek treatment for it. We call it a mental illness because there can be no other explanation for why someone would write such hateful things towards other readers and staff. This blog refuses to be a forum for those who want to exhibit their twisted brand of hatred by putting someone else down to make themselves feel better, using the excuse of calling it debate or constructive criticism. It is nothing more than a form of bullying done while hiding under the veil of anonymity. It's pathetic and cowardly. We are not going to allow it here.

We hope our regular readers will understand and stick with us for information about shale gas, and where possible, other issues of interest. If readers would like to make informed comments regarding subject matter on the blog, a letter-to-the-editor is welcome. Please see our policy guidelines above for that.

We thank you.  - ED.

Thursday, 22 September 2011

Suggestions to Replace Shale Gas

Often the anti-shale gas movement is criticized for not always being so vocal about alternatives to the shale gas industry in New Brunswick. These critics have said, "They don't want shale gas, but what ideas do they have to replace it? We need the money and the work to keep this province alive!"

So we asked some anti-shale gas protesters at the Centennial Building today for suggestions on what other sorts of industry could be developed or brought to NB to help it's people and finances. See the videos below for what they had to say.

One citizen's reaction to the Clerk of the Legislature's comments on Charles Leblanc


Protesters still at Centennial Building - Week 7

The number of anti-shale gas protesters at the weekly Centennial Building demonstration has remained consistent at upwards of 50 people for the past few weeks. Coming and going over the course of the four-hour protest are students, politicians, working people, mothers, grandmothers, First Nations members and retirees. The weather, so far, has remained fairly friendly to the protesters, but with the first day of fall tomorrow, and the coming winter months, it remains to be seen if this core of 50 will stick it out when the going gets cold.

"The Premier is in." 

Posters were taped up around the Centennial Building referring to Fredericton City Council on it's prevention of city water from contamination by shale gas drilling. (Photo: Cheryl Norrad)

 Homeowners with their own well were at the protest registering their concerns about the possibility of well damage from future shale gas drilling. (Photo: Cheryl Norrad)

 Homeowners with their own well were at the protest registering their concerns about the possibility of well damage from future shale gas drilling. (Photo: Cheryl Norrad)

Liberal Opposition leader Victor Boudreau, left, and Liberal MLA Bill Fraser, right, arrive at the Centennial Building protest to listen to citizen concerns about the shale gas industry in New Brunswick. (Photo: Cheryl Norrad) 

Looking into the future. (Photo: Cheryl Norrad) 

 A little music while they work; a new addition to the weekly Centennial Building demonstration in Fredericton. (Photo: Cheryl Norrad) 

There is an effort underway at the  UN to declare shale gas hydro-fracking as one of the crimes of ecocide around the globe. (Photo: Cheryl Norrad)

Homeowner consent form for well water testing by water company. (Photo: Cheryl Norrad)

All that protesting works up an appetite. (Photo: Cheryl Norrad)

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

To Mike M - The press release on the Premier's unveiling of Invest NB yesterday

Above, second from left, Premier David Alward unveils Invest NB yesterday, a new government initiative to attract business, investment, and ultimately jobs, to the province. (Photo: Office of the Premier website)

Press Release:

SAINT JOHN, MONCTON, CAMBELLTON (CNB) - Invest NB's business plan framework and board of directors were announced today by Premier David Alward at the Crown Corporations official launch.

Alward, Economic Development Minister Paul Robichaud and Invest NB chief executive officer Robert MacLeod together visited the cities of Saint John, Moncton and Campbellton for three distinct launch ceremonies. 

"New Brunswick needs a re-energized approach to economic development and investment attraction," Alward said. "To that end, Invest NB has a fresh focus on identifying and aggressively pursuing businesses that will succeed in our province and create jobs. The business plan framework sets out the path Invest NB is taking. 

The plan's goal is to increase the province's gross domestic product by $293 million over the next three years. The business plan framework will include performance measurements that will relate to real economic growth and greater wealth for New Brunswickers.

"To promote our pro-business environment, Invest NB will make informed, strategic decisions to capitalize upon our strengths," said Alward. "The measurements included are representative of Invest NB's focus to invest public money to create high-salary jobs and to develop the economy."

The corporation's efforts will be supported by the expertise of its private sector-led board of directors. Denis Losier will serve as chair and Helena Cain as vice-chair of the Invest NB board. 

The board members are:

  • Denis Losier, president and chief executive officer, Assomption Life
  • Helena Cain, vice-president, Customer Care, Sales and Strategy, Bell Aliant
  • James M. Baumgartner, president and chief executive officer, Moneris Solutions Group, pending confirmation from his corporation
  • H.E.A. (Eddy) Campbell, president and vice-chancellor, University of New Brunswick
  • Michael Campbell, vice-president and general counsel, McCain Foods Ltd. 
  • Rene Collette, director of Business Development, TD Bank Financial Group
  • Lily Durepos, business owner and executive, Alliance Assurance
  • Martin LeBlanc, president and chief executive officer, Caprion Proteomics
  • Bill Levesque, deputy minister, Business New Brunswick, ex-officio
  • Denis Mallet, general manager, FPM Peat Moss Co. Ltd. 
  • Jeffrey S. Mitchell, senior vice-president and director of research, Strategic Advisors Inc, pending confirmation from his corporation
"We have the right combination of dedication, drive and experience in place at Invest NB," Robichaud said. "This team will be effective in attracting world-class companies that will create more jobs and prosperity in all regions of our province."

Robichaud noted that New Brunswick is particularly attractive to business because it has the lowest corporate tax rate in North America; tailored, low-risk incentives including loan guarantees and employee training; and a skilled labour force. 

Invest NB also unveiled its logo and launched its website. The public may follow the corporation on Twitter at @investNB and @investirNB or on Facebook by searching Invest NB and Investir NB.

Post Script:  With the above press release, we have now published the province's side of the launching of Invest NB around the province yesterday, in all fairness, as Mike M wanted pointed out. However, we have noticed there is no mention of shale gas in the press release, so it would seem that version of the launch was exclusively limited to the WSJ interview and no one else. If Mike M, or any government representatives would like to contact us, using their real and full name, for further clarification, we would be more than happy to discuss it. - ED.

Alward launches Invest NB in interview with Wall Street Journal - not backing down on shale gas

On Tuesday, September 20, an interview with Premier David Alward appeared in the Business section of the Wall Street Journal's online website. The interview discussed Invest NB, a new agency set up to lure foreign investment to the province. The article not only promotes the province's low corporate tax rate, but also stated the province supports responsible shale gas development, and won't be backing down on it anytime soon, despite protests.


UPDATE: Since posting the link above, the article has moved into the WSJ pay wall and can only be accessed if readers subscribe. However we have found it elsewhere online and have published it below:

INTERVIEW: New Brunswick Premier Aims To Draw Foreign Investors

By Nirmala Menon
SAINT JOHN, N.B. (Dow Jones)--David Alward, the premier of New Brunswick, is hoping to draw foreign investors to the Atlantic province, which has the third-highest jobless rate in Canada.
Alward set up a new agency, Invest NB, to spearhead the exercise to lure investors from overseas and other Canadian provinces into sectors including information technology and advanced learning. The agency's goal is to secure 35 new investments between 2011-2013 and increase New Brunswick's gross domestic product by C$293 million (US$296 million) over the next three years. New Brunswick's GDP totaled C$27.5 billion in 2009.
This is Alward's first major economic development plan since he became premier when his Progressive Conservatives defeated the Liberals in provincial elections a year ago.
The move comes at a tough time, as the Canadian and global economies face headwinds from a slowing U.S. economy and the euro-zone debt crisis, which prompted the International Monetary Fund Tuesday to slash its Canadian economic growth forecasts for 2011 and 2012.
Even so, Alward said it's a good time to tout what his province has to offer to investors.
"We believe that New Brunswick has a lot of competitive advantages," Alward said in an interview after launching Invest NB. They include a low corporate tax rate and more intangible benefits such as quality of life, Alward said, citing surveys that rated the province's cities as some of the best places to do business.
New Brunswick cut its general corporate income tax rate to 10% effective July 1.
The premier said "hundreds of jobs" in the province are unfilled because "there hasn't been the right connection with skill sets." At the same time, he said classes at universities and colleges go unfilled because young people in New Brunswick haven't realized the opportunities that are available.
The province's unemployment rate was 9.2% last month, almost two percentage points higher than the national rate of 7.3%.
Alward said there are "lots of development opportunities with China and India," which make "great sense" for all provinces, a fact that has and will continue to be a key focus in talks he holds with his fellow premiers. There are also "tremendous opportunities" still in the U.S., which takes up some 85% of New Brunswick's exports, he said.
Meanwhile, Alward isn't backing away from shale-gas development in his province despite protests from environmentalists, saying it makes "good sense" for the province. He said his government is "very supportive of responsible development" of natural gas.
Shale-gas development in New Brunswick is still at the exploration stage, and Alward said it will take between two and five years to come to fruition.
-By Nirmala Menon, Dow Jones Newswires; 613-237-0668 nirmala.menon@dowjones.com

Post script:  We received a comment this morning on the above article that we would like to share along with our response. Perhaps you, along with the commenter, can help us out.

Mike M said...

Might be a bit more balanced report that the Premier actually launched the program in three separate announcements around the province yesterday. Your headline would seem to suggest that it was limited to an interview in the WSJ which is not a fair representation of what happened.

The Purple Violet Press said...

We just came across that article by chance late last night and weren't aware the Premier announced it in other places yesterday.

If readers want us to take a more balanced approach to government announcements, we suggest they contact Communications NB to ensure we be put on the government press release or media list.

Since departmental communications officers refuse to acknowledge our phonecalls,e-mails and trips to their offices, perhaps you, Mike M, can contact them on our behalf and tell them to answer our inquiries or put us on the press release/media list.

That way, you will have the "fair representation of what actually happened" that you are looking for, because we would love to provide that fairness to our readers if the government would just extend us some professional courtesy.

We await your response for suggestions to our problem or how you can help.


Fracked Off! - A report on shale gas by Australian TV

One Love, One Life - A reminder of what this thing is all about


- video courtesy of Softail on YouTube