Helping hand needs reinvention

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As painful as the job losses are recently announced by the Michelin plant in Granton, people have acknowledged that it simply represents a business decision. It was about reduced demand for specific products and practicalities regarding production.

The response from the provincial government reflects those realities – one good sign that it’s finding the right track in recognizing its role in helping business. It’s the start of a positive trend.

A number of cabinet ministers visited Pictou County Friday to meet with local officials to discuss possible responses to the loss of 500 jobs at the plant.

Premier Stephen McNeil has said he wouldn’t rule out future help for Michelin Canada – which has three locations in Nova Scotia – but that any help would not include financial assistance. We applaud that, and may that rule be evenly applied.

That leaves us to wonder what Friday’s meeting was about, but on the other hand, governments need to present the appearance of at least doing something.

Something that is substantial regarding what government can do was expressed – also Friday in Stellarton – by Finance Minister Diane Whalen, who spoke at the Chamber of Commerce luncheon. A pre-budget tour in the province, meeting with business owners, Whalen said, has elicited the call for reducing red tape, and to ensure that regulations are realistic and up-to-date.

That, as opposed to granting public money, is squarely in the government’s corner.

How much of this red tape is the result of too many bureaucrats employed by government departments with not enough to do? When faced with something new in the entrepreneurial world, the bureaucrat in justifying his or her existence creates a set of regulations. The question is, are the regulations vital? And if so, could they be more streamlined?

Even with a taming of the bureaucratic jungle, it will take a while for a healthier business climate to filter through and yield results. But you have to start somewhere.

Organizations: Chamber of Commerce

Geographic location: Pictou County, Nova Scotia, Stellarton

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