Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Hope doesn't grow on cranberry bushes

This question may be stunned, but here goes:

If a German pulp and paper company — and a “reputable” one at that — sees merit in reopening the old AbitibiBowater mill in central Newfoundland, why can’t the former mill workers form a co-op and take it over themselves?

It worked for Fogo Island and fish.

Why can’t it work for Grand Falls-Windsor and wood?

The Fogo Island Co-operative was formed in 1967 when the locals — facing resettlement — rebuilt their local economy on the sea, the only resource they had to play with.

Today, the co-op has boats, plants, markets and a future.

Necessity was the mudder of Fogo invention.

In the case of Grand Falls-Windsor, the unnamed German company that toured the old mill last week apparently likes the access to a wood supply, a trained workforce and potentially cheap power.

Not to mention an actual mill, which the Danny Williams administration accidentally expropriated last year.

It isn’t known how much it would cost to get the mill up and running, but Natural Resources Minister Kathy Dunderdale says government will only do so much.

Forget "big" loan guarantees or "big" subsidies from the Williams government.

That said, the province has already paid out $37 million in severance to former AbitibiBowater workers — stepping in after the company walked out.

Tell me that wouldn’t have been a great start for a pulp and paper co-op.

Dunderdale was also careful to tell people not to get their hopes up.

But then they probably can’t help themselves.

As the people of central Newfoundland have learned since the closure of their mill in early 2009, hope doesn’t grow on cranberry bushes.


Rob said...

It is just a Red Herring by the Williams government to stale the truth about their credibility and the fact that they will have to clean the place up at taxpayer expense.

Anonymous said...

Your essay does beg the question: what are the people of central Newfoundland doing about the mill closure?

If the resource is in fact ours/theirs, should not the ideas and initiative come from them?

If the Fogo process taught us anything, it is that local people have to be the masters of their own fate. Too often in Newfoundland, we await a government solution to a problem. As anyone with eyes can see, the government does not have a clue how to save Grand Falls. Joining with the Greeks in awaiting German rescue hardly makes sense either.

If the people of Grand Falls do not know what to do anymore, how can anyone else help them?

David said...

Excellent suggestion. Unfortunately the Williams government is ideologically opposed to co-ops and would rather spend millions with its foolish and hypocritical Dept. of Business, bankrolling its corporate cronies and subsidizing private business while pontificating about "Free Enterprise" and ideologically indoctrinating imperssionable students with the superstitions of capitalism