Towards a Sound, Prosperous & Sustainable Economy for NB

Stephanie Kelley

The Crop we need to grow now...A field of hemp is glorious, green and good for the planet. Compare it to frack fields and clear cuts…what do you want for your province?

The Crop we need to grow now…A field of hemp is glorious, green and good for the planet. Compare it to frack fields and clear cuts…what do you want for your province?

Jobs! Jobs! Jobs! That’s the promise we are hearing from the provincial government and corporations who want to frack, clear cut and run a pipe line across our beautiful, lush and fertile province.
It sure sounds good, but are those jobs really there?

Back in a more traditional era, when a young man was courting a young lady and finally got around to asking her father for her hand, the father generally asked the fellow what his prospects were. What, exactly, were the young man’s plans? How did he propose to make a living and provide a home and support for his new wife?

Just saying “I’ll get a job” didn’t cut it. A responsible parent would want to know the details and particulars of his possible future son in law’s chosen career path.

Interestingly, when we the people ask for particulars about job creation in shale gas extraction or running the pipeline, we get no solid numbers or details from either the government or the gas and oil companies…. And no one is pinning them down and making them provide actual numbers! They’ve got pretty charts, and nifty photos of themselves looking prosperous and important as they distribute beautiful glossy pamphlets and brochures, but no real details about these jobs.

A famous, or perhaps it would be more accurate to say infamous, quote from Donald Rumsfeld perfectly captures this lack of data: Rumsfeld came up with this political non-speak gem during an interview in 2002.

A barren fracking field

A barren fracking field

“The message is that there are no “knowns.” There are things we know that we know. There are known unknowns. That is to say there are things that we now know we don’t know. But there are also unknown unknowns. There are things we do not know we don’t know. So when we do the best we can and we pull all this information together, and we then say well that’s basically what we see as the situation, that is really only the known knowns and the known unknowns. And each year, we discover a few more of those unknown unknowns.”

Well that certainly cleared things up. But back to what I was saying:

The reason we aren’t told any hard numbers regarding jobs is because there will be no real jobs created for New Brunswickers. Those companies will come in with and use their own already trained crews to do the work of construction and drilling. Local people needing jobs will only be hired to fill unskilled, temporary positions such as driving trucks or security details.

Of course having an oil boom in the neighbourhood will stimulate the local economy temporarily. Fracking creates a boom and bust cycle, however, and once the wells are drilled and the pads are laid the workers will move on. But while they’re in the neighbourhood, the workers will need to eat and live somewhere so hospitality businesses will do well and property owners will be able to cash in on rent.

However, those property values will plummet once the fracking pads are in, because no one in their right mind wants to live next to a frack field.

Clear cutting kills more than just trees. It destroys entire forest communities as it paves the way for massive future spring run-off and flooding

Clear cutting kills more than just trees. It destroys entire forest communities as it paves the way for massive future spring run-off and flooding

Our medical system should get a good workout too, as hydro-fracking is a physically hazardous job not to mention all the carcinogenic and radioactive toxins that will be in liberal use, polluting our land, air and water. Our health care workers should be able to pull in some sweet overtime as they deal with the injuries and illnesses caused by the industry!

And let us not forget, young men flush with cash like to party, so there’ll be a good market for drugs and alcohol, as well as prostitutes… which is always a sound career option for young women.

So what about an industry that could create jobs and opportunity in all sectors? Hemp is a crop that can revolutionize our economy and provide jobs in all trades for both men and women. After 80 years of suppressing this valuable and amazing crop, more and more people are waking up and rediscovering hemp’s endless uses for building materials, pulp, food, fibre, clothing, fuel and much more.

Right now over 20 states in the US are lobbying to rescind hemp prohibition and open up their states to hemp agriculture.

Hemp is on the verge of a revolutionary renaissance, and New Brunswick could and should jump on the hemp train now.

An acre of hemp produces four times as much cellulose as an acre of pulp wood in a year, and hemp can be re-planted again the following year. There is no need to clear cut our province for the pulp industry!

Baird’s Campground 2012

Baird’s Campground 2012

Our province has seen record levels of flooding this year, and more clear cutting will only create more run-off and higher floods in the future. New Brunswick is a rich agricultural oasis, and we can rebuild our economy growing the world’s most valuable and useful crop instead of destroying our land by drilling for fossil fuels.

On Wednesday, May 21 at 7 pm The Voice of the People tour will visit Perth-Andover at the Royal Canadian Legion Hall to give a public presentation about the realities of shale gas extraction. People will have an opportunity to discuss what they’d really like to see in their own back yards and what kind of jobs and economy we want for our families, community and province.

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