Response to Maclean’s piece ‘Can anything save New Brunswick?’ by Martin Patriquin
Submitted March 15, 2016
On March 11th, 2016 Maclean’s magazine published an article titled “Can anything save New Brunswick?” by Martin Patriquin which presented his take on the ‘state of the province’. As alluded to in the title, it read as yet another doomsday article about New Brunswick. Though we applaud Mr. Patriquin for trying to provide both sides of the analytical coin, we feel that his message of hope fell flat.
There is no denying that there are tensions in New Brunswick based on language and culture. However, we would not go so far as to call it ''linguistic tribalism'' and we certainly would not qualify our country's ideals as ''hoary'' as Mr. Patriquin did in his article. Compromise and compassion are what define us as Canadians and New Brunswick is a proud microcosm of these values.
The article goes on to describe the struggling industries in our province – mining, lumber, fisheries and paper milling – and, evidently, these struggles are real. We argue that New Brunswick is not in a “free fall” but rather our province is undergoing a period of economic transition as we shift away from traditional manual labor and move towards innovation and the knowledge industry.
New Brunswick wields incredible potential through its untapped brain-powered assets. Language and communications are a foundational pillar in this new 21st century global economy and our province's linguistic diversity puts us in a favorable position for developing this resource. In a knowledge-based economy, language is an increasingly important asset because it influences bilateral trade, it is conducive to international trade agreements, and it strengthens service-based economies. Languages are therefore a key infinite resource that contributes to developing a green economy.
The fact that New Brunswick has labour and human capital resources in two diverse languages of business, English and French, is a clear advantage – and strong selling point – in the new economy. As our current Prime Minister advocates on a regular basis “our diversity is our greatest strength” and New Brunswick’s linguistic diversity is an integral part of this great strength that Trudeau refers to in many public addresses. To fully take advantage of this great strength, we need to break free from the cloud of negativity that tends to creep in during such periods of transition in order to see the benefits and positive outcome of these changes.
New Brunswickers are friendly, genuine, and hardworking people. We invite any business and industries looking to develop and expand to visit our beautiful province and to establish corporate roots here. Our province's welcome mat is out in both official languages.
Mirelle Cyr, coprésidente