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Letter: Economic development — a wake-up call

To become self-sufficient, Newfoundland requires three ingredients.

The first is to control expenditures within a reasonable level, while providing the important services and quality of life we should expect.

The second is to maximize transfer payments from Ottawa to assist us in this regard. These financial payments should be used to boost the economy and create wealth, but for a limited time — not in perpetuity. To do otherwise exacerbates the dependency and “handout” mentality that we’ve had enough of over the last 70 years.

The third ingredient is to increase our revenues by creating long-term sustainable development through new and innovative initiatives that create jobs and new wealth. Since 1997, I’ve attempted to introduce a number of initiatives to government, none of which have materialized.

Where is the loud swell of public concern? Where is the public outcry? Are we burying our heads in the sand?

  1. Create a trade manufacturing gateway that could see the province become a low-cost manufacturing centre for European trade with North America. We have capable manufacturing companies that could partner with European companies to make lower-cost, quality products here for the North American market, creating jobs and driving product sales. It mirrors the development zone concept in Shannon, Ireland, which is hugely successful in driving North American exports to Europe. Over 7,000 jobs have been created there.
  2. Business retreat tourism — European companies spend huge sums of money in strategic planning, where they spend a week or more in an expensive hotel somewhere at home. With hotel costs spiralling in Europe, we could encourage them to fly to N.L. and experience what North America has to offer while exploring joint venture business opportunities at the same time. The reduction in accommodation costs would pay for the airfare. What a concept to showcase everything N.L. has to offer! We are an opportunity waiting to be discovered.
  3. Build the “Strunnel” and they will come. Just imagine if we had a 24/7/365 fixed link with the rest of Canada via a tunnel under the Strait of Bell Isle. We are the only province without such a link. Look at what the Confederation Bridge has done for the economy of P.E.I. — it is well documented. We would have a totally reliable road system that would work in all weather and with guaranteed timely access. No delays, no food shortages, bringing thousands of new tourists who do not currently visit our beautiful province because of ferries, distance, time and cost. Norway has perfected low-cost hole boring technology and there are over 900 underground tunnels in Norway alone, 33 of which are subsea. We’re hardly reinventing the wheel.
  4. Wind energy and solar power — surely to goodness we have enough wind, so why aren’t there windmills everywhere on land and at sea? Perhaps we would not even need Muskrat Falls? They are all over the U.K. and Europe. Let’s also invest in some of those Tesla hi-tech solar roofing tiles. Perhaps we could manufacture those here, too.
  5. Re-examine government’s local preference purchasing policy. Shouldn’t we be maximizing business opportunities in N.L. for N.L.? Why build unreliable ferries in Romania to save money when we have people desperately waiting for work in Marystown and other Canadian shipyards? So what if they cost more? At least we could get them running reliably.

Many years ago, the provincial government used to have a Department of Development that was focused on economic development. Where is it? What initiatives are we working on? How many companies have been developed or located here? How many jobs are being created? Let’s hear about them.

We must start firing on all cylinders or we are doomed to failure. Do we ignore the dire predictions and do nothing about it? It’s our choice!

If we continue to do what we have always done, we will always get more of what we have always had. Then we really can perpetuate the well-worn statement “Will the last one on the ferry please turn the lights off?”

Where is the loud swell of public concern? Where is the public outcry? Are we burying our heads in the sand? Do you care enough to want to change our future? Sometimes I wonder?

I want to hear from you! 

 

Dave Rudofsky
St. John’s

dave@daverudofsky.com

 

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