The Irving papers want rural New Brunswickers to blame your newcomer neighbour instead of, well, the Irvings.
Brunswick News published an editorial on Friday that continues their long tradition of periodically calling for tax cuts to corporate landlords as their only solution to creating affordable housing. That, and “cutting red tape,” whatever that means.
Only in Friday’s paper they managed to link this obsession to unsubstantiated claims about population growth due to an “influx” of newcomers causing urban homelessness, and a racist cartoon.
This Greg Perry cartoon depicts a man wearing overalls with the words “Rural N.B.” on it while he lays on the ground covered in footprints. He is holding a sign that says “Welcome Immigrants,” appearing to be trampled by newcomers on their way to cities. This is indicated by a sign beside this man that says “Urban Areas” with an arrow pointing in the direction of the footprints.
The editorial board may argue that the message in this cartoon is that immigrants do not want to stay in rural communities, but rather in urban centres. Indeed, the editorial itself laments the low population growth in rural communities.
But the racist undertones cannot be ignored. A rural New Brunswicker trampled by newcomers while holding a “Welcome Immigrants” sign? This suggests that newcomers are ungrateful to rural communities who are trying to welcome them. It suggests that newcomers “trample” well-meaning rural New Brunswickers, saddling them with economic troubles. It suggests to rural New Brunswickers that newcomers prefer the allure of cities so much that they have no regard for the effort rural communities make. The fault lies at the feet of the newcomer.
Presumably in newstands across the province tomorrow, the Irving papers in New Brunswick hit a new low.
Just straight up racism. pic.twitter.com/JZn9mykbKZ
— Aditya Rao (@aditrao) February 11, 2022
But what allure? The editorial goes on to repeat the problematic media narrative that population growth caused by a so-called “influx” of newcomers to urban centres is driving the housing crisis in New Brunswick. This is despite there being no evidence to suggest a causal link between population growth and rising housing costs.
The real culprit behind the housing crisis, as experts have pointed out repeatedly, is financialization. It’s the movement of capital, not people.
Instead, the editorial calls yet again for an end to the so-called “double tax,” which, as tenants and experts have consistently pointed out, is a debate designed to enrich corporate landlords. And advocating a reduction in tax burdens on investors when out-of-control speculative investment is the problem is simply pouring fuel on the fire.
Moreover, cutting the so-called “double tax” would result in the loss of more than $60 million in government revenue to fund the very services that rural New Brunswickers need. While the government gives away hundreds of millions to the Irvings in subsidies and tax breaks, rural New Brunswickers are told they will be losing emergency rooms. Meanwhile newcomers are told they must wait years to find a family doctor.
The housing crisis, low wages, crumbling infrastructure, unaffordable NB Power rates, nursing shortages are problems we all face – New Brunswickers who are rural, urban, newcomer or not, while the province’s billionaires rob us blind.
Aditya Rao grew up in Mumbai, India. Tracy Glynn grew up in Weldfield-Collette, outside of Miramichi, New Brunswick. They both live on the stolen territory of the Wolastoqey in what is now known as Fredericton.