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Letter: Nick Whalen’s letter would make good tinder

MP Nick Whalen’s letter in the Oct. 21 Weekend Telegram challenges us all in the face of the Harris Centre’s regional population projections.
I am personally challenged as to why a politician would ever have to write a letter extolling his achievements. It’s always a bit of a red flag. Wouldn’t it be better if said achievements were completely obvious? Smacking us in the face, as it were, as we walk the streets and roads of our fair province?
I guess Whalen would prefer we were not thinking about his tacit defence of Bill Morneau’s attack on small business.
On the front page of this same Telegram, Wade Locke declares that the province’s finances are totally in the toilet. Cosmic forces are at play here for Whalen’s progress update to appear in the wake of such despair and blackness. Just by turning a few pages, we are buoyed. Whalen offers us hope. Let’s have a look at why that letter inspires us so. And let’s use a little Wade
Locke analysis as we go, shall we?
Whalen begins by claiming that the federal government has spent $290 million in Newfoundland and Labrador on “important infrastructure needs” since 2015. Based on our current population, this represents $275 per year for every man, woman and child in the province. This, he says, promotes “green” solutions. I suggest we couldn’t be any greener if we thought this was a lot of money.

Whalen offers us hope. Let’s have a look at why that letter inspires us so.

On the topic of skilled workforce and immigration, Whalen saves his emphasis for the latter. A wise move. Skilled workers are in short supply here. Aside from the obvious lack of work, why would anyone who is skilled stay here anyway? The average wage for carpenters here is $19/hour. The average wage for carpenters in Ontario is $36/hour. We can clearly expect a flood of immigrant carpenters. Hammers at the ready.
Whalen suggests the Atlantic Immigration Pilot Program will “bring 2000 skilled workers and their families to Atlantic Canada each year.” Have a little dig into the AIPP website — especially if you, like me, are an employer. The cost of this program is completely borne by small business. You are asked to “collaborate.”
A quick review of the AIPP application form indicates that employers are “expected to support employees and their families,” provide “culture and diversity awareness training (at the employer’s own cost)” and to cover “all costs associated with returning foreign nationals to their country of origin” if things don’t quite work out. This might not be so daunting if the Liberal government wasn’t hell bent on screwing small business. But not to worry, AIPP suggests we can take advantage of provincial wage subsidies: a whopping $7,280! I can’t buy a cow for that, let alone employ someone.
Have no fear. Whalen, in his new role on the Commons Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration, pledges to “study” immigration.
He says the National Trade Corridors Fund has been allocated $2 billion over the next 11 years to “support the flow of goods and passengers by reducing bottlenecks, and address capacity issues.” This represents (on a population-based, pro rata basis — assuming we got our fair share) $2.64 million per year for our province. According to Whalen, “this will ensure small airports are not unfairly excluded from federal infrastructure funds.” Great. Sure we could totally revamp the airport at Winterland with that kind of money. We could solve all the National Trade Corridor problems on the Burin.
Whalen gushes that this province is “at the margin of the Arctic” and in a tremendous position to “unlock the value of Canada’s Arctic coastline.” MUN’s initiative in this area is truly world class, largely because of leadership, ingenuity and engagement. I’m not sure the current federal government (or Whalen) had a whole lot to do with it. Oh well. What about Gerry Byrne? He’s always poised to speak up for MUN.
Our honourable member closes his letter: “Please know that we will have all hands on deck.”
Perhaps when the provincial ship sinks, it takes the whole bloody lot of you with it.

James B. Case
St. John’s

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