posted on Jul, 16 2008 @ 12:41 PM
In my part of the country, there is a large company known as JD Irving, Inc (JDI in local shorthand). At first glance, they are simply a classic large
resource venture, processing oil and lumber brought in from out-of-province at a refinery near my house and a pulp mill on the other side of town.
However, for those who look deeper, they also own:
-Both main local newspapers (The Telegraph Journal and the General Mail)
-Fully half the land in the local suburbs
-A substantial share of the provincial energy works
-5% of Aliant, the largest local phone/interenet provider
-The cities main construction company, Ocean Steel Corporation
-All parks in the city
-Three large call centres (which seem to be the primary mode of work in this city)
and even the ground on which City Hall now sits (gifted in the 20's by the original Irving, but the deed is still in his hands.)
Irving employs close to, if not somewhat over, 50% of the local population, either directly or through the above subsidiaries. Despite this, they are
largely despised within the community as in-efficient at best and downright greedy at worst. The current mayor was even elected on a platform of
reducing Irving control of the city, which of course he has no legal channel to do, except to raise property taxes on certain areas of town where JDI
operates, which hurts the rest of us just as badly, if not worse. They have the oil/gas market cornered, which makes just about every local homeowner
and businessman dependent on them for these resources (heating oil for the oldest homes here, natural gas for restaurants such as my own, etc.).
The largest factor in worsening public opinion of JDI is that six months ago, before the last batch of municipal elections, they passed a very large
"donation" to the city in exchange for rights to construct a LNG pipeline and second refinery in town. Both constructions products have increased
job availability, but cheaper labour from, get this, Maine and Quebec, meant that very few locals actually got a boost from these products. For those
curious, both refineries sell their product to the USA; the gas we use locally comes from another refinery owned by JDI in Quebec. Everyone pretty
much wants Irving out of the picture.
Now, I've seen this before. In my childhood, in the old town I used to live in, one large company owned everything in town, with the exception of a
few amenities and government services. When the US government imposed a Softwood Lumber Tariff, the primary market for their product (it was a logging
town, to say the least) collapsed, and the company quickly went belly up. That city now has a shadow of it's old economy, held aloft by the retail
industry, of all things. Essentially, everyone in that city is now chained to retail and service industries; nothing is produced. This seems stable at
first blow, but every now and then minimum wage changes and smaller companies have to bow out. My grandmother lives there, and says that the
unemployment rate is something on the order of two-thirds.
My question then is: Do we actually need these large resource companies in order to sustain the economy by controlling the majority of it, or should
they be forced to stay in their own industries?
The other question would be if this is a phenomenon local to the more back-woods areas of Canada, and whether or not it's experienced at all in the
[edit on 16-7-2008 by Ephiram-Lo]