John Risley is a “high profile Nova Scotia businessman.” That means he’s better than you; his opinion worth more than yours.
So no wonder he gets ample room to stretch his crab legs over at the CBC and masticate away about the film industry’s beset-upon tax credit.
“It is an absolute nonsense,” Risley told CBC this week about a multi-million dollar industry he’s not involved in. “The government cannot afford to be subsidizing any industry to this extent.”
The hypocrisy of Clearwater Seafoods-owning John Risley complaining about government handouts (a week after Ottawa gave away $1 million to help his company) is buttery-lobster rich. Noted contrarian Parker Donham summarizes it nicely:
”That’s how Risley made his $1.38 billion: By acquiring, from government, preferred access to massive public shellfish resources (along with sundry federal and provincial handouts). Clearwater is the largest holder of rights to fish Canadian scallops, lobster, clams, coldwater shrimp and crab. The company owns exclusive rights to all offshore lobster fished on the Atlantic coast, and to all Arctic surf clams. These are public resources that you and I can’t fish. But Risley’s bottom-destroying draggers can.
In return, Clearwater provides dead-end, low-wage, seasonal employment in fish plants that have come to rely on special immigration exemptions, issued by government, to import temporary third world workers willing to carry out the bone-chilling, soul-deadening labour that make them profitable.”
Even with his false virtues, the sad fact is that Risley might be right. There’s a disturbing lack of data on the ROI for Nova Scotia’s film credit. That in of itself is a fantastic reason to leave it (and the thousands of workers employed by the industry) alone until betters solutions can be found.
But John's been standing at the pulpit, delivering entitlement sermons, for some time. Take this glowing Risley profile from 2013 in the Globe and Mail:
"Mr. Risley has never subscribed to the play-it-safe mantra of Atlantic business, and if the region is going to climb out of its economic hole, it needs new John Risleys—economic players who are not just deputy ministers or members of old family dynasties, but upward strivers who come out of nowhere. Mr. Risley is an evangelist for an enterprise culture modelled on Silicon Valley that would reduce dependence on public handouts and give entrepreneurs room to flourish or fail in markets around the world.
‘Damn it, I’m 65, and there is a point when you say, “The community has been great to me and I will do my best to help the community.” If there are those who do not agree with me, I have no problem with that—but let’s have the debate,’ he says.”