LOG CABIN CHRONICLES

Economic optimism in Aylmer, Quebec

Posted 05.02.13
FRED RYAN

SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | Recently, I ran into good news. Speaking to several businesspeople, one contractor, and a professional, I was pleased to hear that they all estimate the Outaouais economy is in for a boost.

One building supply retailer reported that in the last couple of weeks business has "taken a big jump." He said he's getting so many orders for renovations and home additions that he already is in back-order mode, leading him to believe that this jump in business activity is more than local.

The contractor added that he has jobs booked well in advance, which could make this year his best since 2009. He has hired another half-crew, and rented a second van.

These business people attribute the up-tick to the last provincial election. Every one of them said they felt consumers and home-owners had put plans on hold as they waited for Mme. Marois and the PQ try for a majority government and, likely, another independence referendum.

However, many retailers tell us sales are still flat, and they blame both the weather and federal civil service cutbacks. "So many people in Aylmer are afraid of more cuts. They're afraid to plan and certainly to spend," said an auto mechanic.

And while retail spending, or household consumption, is an important driver of our local economy, the building trades are more significant in that more spending here means creating new jobs as well as new purchases of supplies and products.

No matter who we supported in that election, it is encouraging to learn that the election results seem to be having a positive economic impact. The federal government's role has been as a spoiler, not a stimulator. Functional changes -- like replacing a government -- are more important in influencing consumers than budget statements.

There's no question that political instability is a real downer for ordinary folks who are not committed one way or another, politically. No one can afford to lose a job or see their clientele decline.

And obviously there aren't lines of traffic leaving Quebec. Those images of fleeing federalists were more a propaganda device than evidence of big shifts in the population or economy. With the housing boom still underway in Aylmer, the lines of traffic are heading into Quebec, not out. This can only help our local economy and job numbers.

Now if spring will actually show up and summer indicate its arrival, we might just be on the verge of a sustained economic boom. Federal job cuts need to be either done or discontinued, for the sake of our economic well being. It's ironic that a federal government which claims to have a single focus -- economic growth -- is actually smothering growth and job creation.

Here's a thought: If Mme. Marois helped Quebec's economy by committing hari-kari, could Prime Minister Harper not do Canada a similar favour? In any event there seems a glimmer of optimism in the air this month, and that's certainly refreshing.

john@johnmahoney.com




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