Dear Marni Soupcoff: go soak your head

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“There is a dependence in the region that breeds a culture of defeatism.”
— Stephen Harper, May 2002, on Atlantic Canada

Stephen Harper, then Opposition leader, got off on the wrong foot with Atlantic Canadians when he made that famous utterance.

Peter Jackson

Well, say hello to Marni Soupcoff. She wants to pick up the thread where Harper left off.

On Monday, Soupcoff had a commentary in the National Post peddling the same, tired stereotypes about Atlantic Coasters.

It was in response to an article by former New Brunswick premier Frank McKenna, who extolled the benefits of bringing more immigrants and refugees to the region, even floating the dubious idea of a limited mandatory residency.

Soupcoff doesn’t think it’s fair to inflict Atlantic Canada on newcomers.

Yes, she says, an influx of able-bodied residents would go a long way towards “reversing its disturbing economic and demographic trends.”

But, she says, “it should go without saying that even the strongest entrepreneurial spirit will be crushed by economic protectionism and excessive regulation.”

Oh, the humanity! How do businesses survive here at all under the jackboot of big government?

So, does Ms. Soupcoff offer a soupçon of evidence for her opinion?

“(New Brunswick) imposes strict interprovincial import limits on beer and wine to try to force its citizens to buy their alcohol in provincial stores, where prices generally run double what they are in neighbouring Quebec,” she writes.

What she fails to point out is that booze is dramatically lower in price in Quebec than everywhere else in Canada.

As for strict liquor laws, perhaps Soupcoff missed a piece in The Globe and Mail last month by the head of Restaurants Canada. Donna Dooher found restrictive liquor laws all over the country, not just Atlantic Canada.

“(In) the convoluted world of liquor regulations, business owners are charged the same as consumers when they buy alcohol in seven provinces, regardless of the amount they buy. And in one province — Ontario — bar and restaurant owners are charged more than consumers.”

I guess you wouldn’t want to be an immigrant opening a restaurant in Toronto.

Atlantic leaders, Soupcoff preaches, “have to clear away the significant regulatory obstacles to economic progress first, then they can look outside the country for people eager to take advantage.”

Where, in heaven’s name, did she get the impression Atlantic provinces don’t offer incentives to new businesses? The Newfoundland government has been doing it for decades, often to its own detriment.

This is utter hogwash, the standard mantra of right-wing think-tanks who obsess over age-old protectionist industries like the fishery, and ignore the new realities most of us have already come to face.

None of this should be a huge surprise from someone whose most recent columns suggest gun laws don’t work, and that black Americans need more police intervention, not less.

Nor is it any surprise she’s executive director of the Canadian Constitution Foundation, a registered charity that’s really just a front to push libertarian dogma.

The foundation, by the way, espouses political neutrality and honesty as its core values.

Except for this nugget at the bottom of the website: “The CCF gratefully acknowledges the financial support provided by an anonymous donor towards the development of this website.”

Nothing to see here, folks. Look away.


Peter Jackson is The Telegram’s news editor. Email:

Organizations: National Post, Restaurants Canada, Canadian Constitution Foundation

Geographic location: New Brunswick, Atlantic Canada, Quebec Canada.As Ontario Newfoundland

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Recent comments

  • david
    January 20, 2016 - 18:20

    The experiences and lessons any immigrant would have by starting their new life in Atlantic Canada would severely limit their futures as productive Canadian citizens. Full stop.

    • Eric
      January 21, 2016 - 09:52

      David would you please give your reasons for this erratic statement?

  • roy206
    January 20, 2016 - 10:18

    Newfies have taken exception to the comments, however.......WE have lots of unemployed people and yet we have a foreign worker program...Ask Minister Bennet why she has foreigners rather than newfies.......They make a better workforce with much less BS to be tolerated by the employers. Foreigners come to work and act responsibly, .. The seasonal nature of Nl with a 4 month summer and short construction period has forced both Employer and Employee to embrace the EI. system....In the end the employer depends on EI as much as the worker since it ensures the worker is available next season. Unfortunately, some workers get anxious to be finished when their weeks have been worked, however I have had employees for almost 40 years, all newfies and any trouble that I have had is not worth writing....

    • Just asking...
      January 20, 2016 - 10:56

      Do your workers ever have to tolerate your BS? Maybe the foreign workers are in too much of a precarious situation to risk questioning you or standing up for their rights. What would you do if you were on the other side of the equation?

    • Eric
      January 20, 2016 - 11:53

      Roy206. Please Roy don't call us Newfies, most of us do not like that word. By the way Roy all of the provinces of Canada have similar climate to Newdfoundland and Labrador, except probably for British Columbia. I don't know if you realize it or not St. John's has been tagged by David Philips of Environment Canada as having the 3rd warmest winter, only surpassed by Vancouver and Victoria B.C. Winters in Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta can be bitterly cold. Our weather is. NOT bad at all from May to December, that is 8 months duration, winter is fairly mild IN ST. JOHN'S and not nearly as cold as most of some of the other provinces 'Winters. I know people who worked in Alberta, Manitoba and Saskatchewan a few years back, who were given a lay-off during the 2 coldest months of winter because of the bitterly cold conditions.

  • It is time for our politicians to demand a different economic arrangement with Ottawa!
    January 20, 2016 - 09:24

    For Marni Soupcoff's information we are hand tied here in the province of Newfoundland and Labrador by the regulations of Ottawa. Our jurisdictional waters and air space and every dollar made in the water and from the air spacea is governed by Ottawa. Our Hydroelectric Energy is owned by Quebec, our Minerals are used to create economies in Central Canada, Our Oil has been passed over to other jurisdictions to create economies through processing. Isn't it time that our Politicians, both Federal and Provincial took the Bull by the Horns and demanded a different economic arrangement so that we can grow an economy along with a population base right here in our province with our own natural resources from our great strategic location?

  • Frank
    January 20, 2016 - 08:25

    Harper was bang on though!!

  • Ken Kavanagh
    January 20, 2016 - 08:05

    The site also claims: "•Optimism: We strive to maintain a positive outlook." Right on buddy!!!! Their anonymous donor was probably someone like the 'Tea Party' lovin' Koch brothers. Ken Kavanagh Bell Island

  • Dermis Probe
    January 20, 2016 - 07:38

    Hey, Peter. Enough of your LIP! :)