The NDP deal has been heavily criticized since it was made, but it would have been worse if they had done nothing. Then it truly would have looked like the government was abandoning the county. They probably had little choice in the matter.
We don't know what took place in the negotiating room, but it's safe to say Resolute Forest Products had the upper hand. If the province had demanded major restrictions on the money, such as staying open for a certain amount of time, they could have just walked away. There was nothing to lose on their part.
The NDP tried, but there was nothing they could do about global markets. In the end though the money loss was not great. About $600,000 was used by the company for training, which cannot be recovered. But $25 million was never used, and $23.5 million bought the province a lot of land.
Now we move on. That's really the key, isn't it? We've been knocked down hard. Once we've let what has happened sink in we get up and dust ourselves off. It's going to take time to figure out what this will mean for the county and the province, and longer still to figure out what to do about it.
For now, our role is to support the workers and their families in this difficult time. Some of us may have ideas about how to revitalize the county, but it's too much to expect any individual to do it on their own. Instead we need to support initiatives that come forward to help our community.
The government's role is to try and bring in that economic development to the area. Two initiatives are already underway, the Lunenburg Queens Regional Development Agency's "Why here" campaign, and the Region of Queens and South Queens Chamber of Commerce's revitalization strategy. Neither is going to solve things, but at least it is the starting point.
Let's not sugar coat what happened. It's going to be tough in Queens County for a while. Many things are going to change over the next several years, and people are going to be moving away. What the overall picture will look like is a question few of us can answer.
Each person in the county will have to deicide where they will go from here. There are few correct answers; just what they think is best for them. The worst decision though would be to do nothing at all.