Random Thoughts on a Friday — July 5 2013

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1. Pollster Don Mills was in St. John’s recently where he was given a pulpit by the Board of Trade so he could spread the same gospel he brings to the province on an almost annual basis: basically, he says rural areas are done, time to move people out and reposition them in the larger regional centres. Of course, that makes sense since the “people are up in arms demanding hydroelectric development” and there are many communities “with no great future” that could and should have its residents relocated to the “growth centres” in the province. Actually it wasn’t Don Mills that said that. It was Joey Smallwood in the 1950s just before the launch of the resettlement program. My mistake. Now go burn your boats.

2. Speaking of polls, a recent Abacus Data survey about the best and worst Canadian provinces suggested that Alberta was the best managed province with the lowest taxes while British Columbia was the most beautiful and the province most people wanted to visit. Quebec was the least friendly and worst managed, Ontario had the highest taxes and Saskatchewan had the worst scenery. Newfoundland and Labrador was deemed “most friendly.” Clearly, the people polled have never driven the Outer Ring Road at 8:30 a.m. or dealt with some (notice, I said SOME, not ALL) of the local service industry.

3. The province is going to give Dan Meade, of Dandy Dan’s Seafood Market fame, a $70,000 funding kick to help develop a new line of seafood appetizers — namely, cod hors d’oeuvres — at a facility in Argentia. The funding will go towards training for new staff, the development of new packaging, creation of marketing materials, and participation in trade shows. I’m quick to face-punch the province when it drops the ball on or ignores fishery potential, so I will be just as quick to give this a little credit. Government should be putting more of its money and clout into marketing and product development for Newfoundland seafood (see recent mussel marketing development funding also). Incidentally, if anyone can pull this off, Dan Meade can — the guy is a survivor.

4. Speaking of seafood marketing, if you want to see how it can be done, it’s always fun to keep tabs on the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute (ASMI).

5. China should be careful welcoming delegations from Newfoundland and Labrador like the Kathy Dunderdale-led junket that visited the Far East recently. Seems every time we try to get cozy with someone, bad things mystically happen. It used to be that our favourite place to go to pucker up and kiss arses was Ireland. But then the Celtic Tiger got neutered. So we decided Iceland was going to be our new dance partner. And then their economy promptly fell into the toilet. There’s no connection but it is pretty coincidental. Confucius say countries who sign MOUs or get chummy with Newfoundland political visitors seem to end up wetting their economic beds.

6. The fall of the Canadian Dollar below the American greenback seems like bad news for cross-border shoppers, but it’s good for those in the fishing industry who rely largely on exports to the U.S. and who in the past managed to pick up extra profit on the exchange rates. It’s more complicated than simply saying a .95 cent Loonie means an extra five cents per pound in everyone’s pocket when selling fish into the U.S. market. But it helps.

7. And finally, I’m not one for preying on semantics, but what’s up with NDP MP Ryan Cleary constantly calling himself the “Fighting Newfoundlander?” Maybe I missed something, but did he report for duty in World War I or II? Korea? The Middle East? Doesn’t seem appropriate that a politician, whose only real fight is to decide what restaurants to eat at while seeing the sights in Ottawa should drape himself with the generic title of a war hero, does it? Discuss amongst yourselves.

Jamie Baker is the managing editor for The Navigator magazine, www.thenavigatormagazine.com

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