Editors Note: The following article on the “Irvings” was recently published in the Globe and Mail and provides much food for thought. On any given day as you discuss the Irvings over morning coffee there seems to be two prevailing views: “Look what the Irvings have done FOR New Brunswick” and “Look what the Irvings have done TO New Brunswick.
Note the following quotes form the article. “In fact, while the Irvings became among the richest business people in Canada, New Brunswickers as a group did not fare well compared to other Canadians. Today, New Brunswick’s median income is the lowest among the provinces, and it also registers at the dire end of the spectrum in measures such as out-migration, growth and unemployment”.
A review of the US Koch Brothers might provide and interesting comparison.
“Today, the Irving group is made up of a host of privately held companies (at least 174 of them; possibly as many as 250), altogether worth more than $10 billion, by one estimate.”
Of the 200 plus companies currently owned by the Irvings how many established by the Irvings? How many were acquired by encouraging the original owner to join the “Irving family” and did the original owner maintain an equity position as a family member? To borrow Donald Trump’s slogan “To make New Brunswick great again” we require more entrepreneurs not fewer.
A question one might ask is has New Brunswick been underwriting the Irving fortune? I look at the terms and conditions of the 25 year Crown Forest agreement with JDI might provide an answer to that question. Quite frankly I don’t blame the Irvings for there aggressive sometimes heavy handed approach to business any more than I blame foxes for killing chickens in the hen house. The farmers job is to ensure the hen house is secure to safe guard the vulnerable chickens. Local and province governments responsibility is the same as the farmers, to protect the public interest and from where I sit it looks like we have been loosing a lot of chickens.
What do you think?