Saint John — Speaking at the Atlantic Provinces Economic Council’s annual Outlook Conference, former New Brunswick premier Frank McKenna warned Atlantic Canada is facing an “extinction event” if action isn’t taken to set the region’s economy back on track.
The Apohaqui, N.B. native said the way forward lies in a mostly untapped resource — the metal memorial plaques embedded in cenotaphs and historical site-markers in municipalities throughout the region.
“These plaques are a rich source of recyclable bronze, brass and other valuable copper-based alloys that, when pried out of monuments in the dead of night, thrown in the trunk of a ’96 Cavalier and sold to scrap yards to be melted down, represent a compelling source of revenue for the Atlantic provinces that can’t be overlooked any longer,” McKenna stated, pausing to bum a contraband cigarette and open a fresh can of Wildcat.
While the plaques hold considerable social and sentimental worth, McKenna said, their market value as scrap “ain’t peanuts” and could provide a welcome source of ready cash in an era of dwindling transfer payments and general fiscal decline in the East. “We built this proud region on a solid foundation of fish guts and wood chips, but the future is calling, and it’s saying ‘Grab a crowbar and a couple of buddies,’” he added.
During an autograph-signing session at Cabela’s in Moncton, Premier Brian Gallant praised McKenna’s remarks as “visionary” and “helpful.”
“I have no idea what I’m doing,” Gallant added, grinning fixedly while posing for photos in a pair of hip waders and awkwardly clutching a BB gun.
Economists are praising McKenna’s “way forward,” saying stolen plaques could make up for lost revenue in the wake of declining car break-ins and a sharp drop in the availability of Ace of Base and Hootie and the Blowfish CDs to pawn for hash money.