Letters to the editor, September 26, 2013 | Opinion | Halifax, Nova Scotia | THE COAST

Letters to the editor, September 26, 2013

These are the letters and comments from the print edition

Orange is the new blue

Why is the NDP going to lose this election? Simple: they're not the NDP. Consider the following:

Where's the provincial auto insurance company once promised to us?

Why do they dismiss all suggestion that we should nationalize the greedy monopoly known as Nova Scotia Power?

Why are they aiming for 10 percent cuts to the civil service—one of if not the largest employers in the province—when slow growth is Nova Scotia's real economic problem?

Why, when they needed a tax hike, did they go with the HST, a tax placed firmly on the backs of the poor?

Why refuse to tie the minimum wage to the poverty level?

Why is the chief focus the balanced budget (debt has never been much cheaper than right now), not building an effective government?

This is the Progressive Conservative government of John Hamm—just dressed in orange this time around. I'll be switching my vote to Liberal this election, because I want a left-of-centre party and they're the best remaining option. I'd prefer a NDP government, but the party in power right now certainly doesn't fit that description.

—Ryan Campbell, Halifax

Defining local

Re: "Trade Centre Limited's preferred vendor squeezes out small local firms" (Reality Bites by Tim Bousquet, September 5). Having followed this column's continued exposure on the practices and exploits of Halifax Trade Centre Ltd., one cannot help but agree they generally suck.

I don't contest this, and it is not the primary focus of the letter. I am writing to offer a different vantage point. I don't know that I am necessarily on side with the grievances listed here, for the following reasons.

Firstly, what constitutes a "local" firm and what does not? Having spent some years as an AV technician (a number of years ago) in Halifax, for a "national" company (not Frisckhorn, but a competitor), I can attest that everyone who works in a given city branch—from the technicians to the admin and management people—is a local citizen who lives, shop sand pays taxes in the HRM area, just like those in the so-called local firms. Yes, some of the profits get shipped off to upper/lower Canada, but does that imply that local employees' jobs for these larger firms are not as valuable?

Being a national company has obvious advantages in terms of flexibility (scaling up inventory and staff on short notice) and therefore to some extent pricing, but the convention business is a tough business.

Anyone with a van, a sound system and a few projectors and laptops can try and get in the game to undercut everyone else. It is a customer's market, and demands for great service, at a low price—often on very short notice—are the norm.

Even these larger national companies are not isolated from market conditions. In my time on the job, I saw the ownership of my own company change hands, and several branches were consolidated and/or closed. On the local level, I recall that the preferred provider with the World Trade and Convention Centre could also change regularly depending on who was the hungriest for the business (in other words who could afford to absorb the largest "pay to play" kickback).

There is no question that being the underdog sucks, but business is business. No one is forcing any company (or their existing or potential customers) to do business with WTCC.

I realize the Coast has an inherent mandate to defend and support all things Haligonian, but there is often a bigger picture to be seen. While I wish so-called local firms the best, realistically there is not enough business for everyone. (I suspect that since the events of 12 years ago, the tourism and convention bonanza has yet to return to pre-2001 levels).

Therefore the success of one firm must come at the expense of another, all of whom are stakeholders in the Halifax market. —Ian Gillis, Chester Basin

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