To the editor,
I read with interest Faus Johnson's opinion piece "County must promote its brand" in the Feb. 5 News. As a descendant of Scots and a proud recent immigrant to New Glasgow from big bad Halifax, I conceptually agree with much he had to say. However, in slinging arrows, he too is guilty of misinformed ramblings and, dare I say it, tartanism. The ship Hector passengers were not the first Scottish settlers to Nova Scotia, nor even the first to Pictou County. They were met on the beach by previously established Scottish settlers who befriended and assisted them! And I'm sure there were a few early Scottish settlers already wandering the streets of Halifax.
But, given the large influx of Scots in the late 18th and early 19th century, Pictou County can certainly brand itself as the Birthplace of New Scotland. The question then becomes is that enough? Unfortunately, the county's brand is a subset of the province's, and right now Nova Scotia's brand, including that of Cape Breton, is struggling. Yes, we lack a ferry link to the States, and yes, gas prices are high. However, these things are not deterring the flow of tourists making the far more arduous and expensive trip past us on their way to Newfoundland and Labrador! Or from flying halfway around the world at great expense in search of new experiences. It's as if mainland Nova Scotia has become the new New Brunswick – a place to drive through on the way to somewhere else. In fact, we're becoming more and more the new Manitoba – a place to be from that nobody visits.
The socio-economic issues facing Nova Scotians – outside of the HRM – are complicated and there may not be solutions to the apparently unstoppable, across the board "downward" slide we're experiencing. Nor are we alone in this. Most of rural and small town North America is in the same boat! King Canute tried to stop the tide from coming in. Our great challenge lies in trying to stop the tide from going out! Or can we? And if not, then what?