It is easy to say that we will “stop all forms of business/corporate welfare” and yes, if it is welfare then I completely agree.
Supporting businesses or infrastructure that clearly introduce new money or opportunities into the system is entirely a different matter.
Providing an avenue for New Brunswick companies to export their products and/or services through our facilities creates a return on investment that can be weighted in our favor.
During our last term in government we worked directly with the Port of Saint John to re-establish its once prominent container business. This required an initial short term investment, strategic coordination and negotiations with MSC, one of the largest shipping companies in the world, for them to call at this ice-free port. It was also necessary to review with CN their rates for delivering cargo to Saint John. We also worked with provincial businesses who were using the Ports of Montreal and Halifax for their export business, to encourage the use of their local port.
Anyone who passes over the Harbor Bridge today can see the very positive result. This is the result of government and business collaboration focused on a well-defined and achievable target.
We also significantly invested in the railroad to the Miramichi, ensuring that future and current economic activities in that region would not be lost due to inadequate transportation capabilities.
Export solutions need to be actively sought by government – and whether the opportunities are low-hanging-fruit or more complex solutions – we need to aggressively pursue.