Saturday, March 25, 2006


jamie, originally uploaded by Oldmaison.

On a personal note? I like the guy. I first met the kid in the 90s.

As like the other members of the Irving Family. I don't have a feeling that I'm chatting with a Billionaire.

They all seems pretty open during a conversation.

My battle is with Management not the Irvings.

Now what's your view on Jamie Irving? Do you believe he's going a fine jon with the Telegraph Journal?

Here's a story that was printed months ago in the Globe and Mail!!!

An empire looks to the future
A fifth generation of New Brunswick's richest clan is at the centre of a hot dispute over an LNG megaproject, writes GORDON PITTS


Saint John city councillor Glen Tait is dismayed at the pressure tactics used by Irving Oil Ltd. to extract a long-term municipal tax break for its latest megaproject. In his view, it's a form of blackmail.

"They're big enough to come down with a hammer," says Mr. Tait, describing the ultimatum that forced city council to ram through a 25-year tax deal for Irving's $750-million liquefied natural gas terminal -- or risk losing the project for Saint John.

But Mr. Tait is not anti-Irving. Indeed, he says his opposition to the tax break has been fairly covered by the Irving family-owned Saint John Telegraph-Journal, whose new publisher, 27-year-old Jamie Irving, is the first member of his generation to enter the family empire.

"I must admit I was a bit shocked," said Mr. Tait, the former city fire chief, who was on the losing end of a seven-to-four council vote that approved the tax break, thus igniting a firestorm of protest throughout New Brunswick.

"I said: 'You won't read my comments in the paper,' but it was covered for and against -- and it was equal," Mr. Tait said.

The tax controversy sheds light on what is both old and new about the city's -- and Atlantic Canada's -- most powerful clan. The Irvings' tough-love image in the Saint John area continues, as the grandchildren of empire-builder K.C. Irving carry on the family tradition of getting what it wants, but also delivering jobs and investment to this economically pressed region.

But this time, the public relations drama is being covered by one of their own, Jamie Irving, the oldest child of the fifth generation, who claims to love newsprint and balanced reporting ahead of pulp mills and oil refineries. His stewardship of the Telegraph-Journal will be closely watched, both by media critics and corporate power junkies, for he is a potential titan-in-the-making.

The empire he may command some day is a sprawling, privately owned conglomerate that can be traced to 1881, when founder J.D. Irving purchased a small sawmill in Bouctouche, N.B. J.D.'s hard-driving son, K.C. Irving, built an integrated industrial powerhouse, taking the company into pulp and paper mills, shipbuilding, oil and gas, retail, and food processing.

While most family firms lose their drive by the third generation, the Irvings sustained their aggressiveness under K.C.'s sons, James (J.K.), Arthur and John, now all in their 70s. Forbes magazine recently estimated the family's wealth at $4.4-billion (U.S.), making it the world's 117th-largest fortune.

The liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal represents a big move by the fourth generation, led by Arthur's son Kenneth, president of Irving Oil, to build its own legacy in Saint John. The family sees the terminal, to sit beside Irving Oil's deep-water tanker port that supplies its huge refinery, as a key building block in a hub of petroleum, power generation and plastics production that would feed the U.S. market.

The company says the tax break was the final hurdle before Irving, working with Spanish partner Repsol YPF SA, joins the high-stakes race to build these massive terminals, which receive offshore LNG and pump it into pipelines for distribution. Construction is slated to start this spring for a late-2007 launch. It is one of about 50 proposals for new or expanded LNG projects in North America, but it is likely that only a small number of these will be built.

The fallout from the tax break is also a baptism of fire for Kenneth's young cousin, Jamie Irving, who has chosen the relative backwater of the media holdings to make his mark, instead of core operations, such as the energy unit or the big forest products business run by his father Jim Irving Jr. and grandfather James Irving.

After two years at one of the family's weekly papers, in December he vaulted into the publisher's job at the Telegraph-Journal and its regional edition, which, along with Irving newspapers in Moncton and Fredericton, form a family-owned monopoly of English-language dailies in the province.

It is still very early, but local critics are pleased with what they see so far. Sources at the Telegraph-Journal say Mr. Irving has indicated he wants the staff at the daily to feel proud to work there. He instructed the newspaper's editors to come down the middle in covering the terminal debate.

"He really does show a genuine interest in trying to produce good newspapers," says Kim Kierans, director of the journalism faculty at University of Kings College in Halifax. However, Ms. Kierans and other media analysts say the real test will be the paper's day-to-day coverage of the newspaper's powerful owners and their tentacles.

Jamie is a protégé of veteran editor Neil Reynolds, who has run the newsrooms of several Canadian dailies, including the Telegraph-Journal and its now defunct sister, the Times Globe. He was hired, fired and rehired by the Irvings within his turbulent four-year regime. "Jamie has a grasp of what a newspaper can be in a community," says Mr. Reynolds, who worked with Mr. Irving when the latter was a summer intern.

One advantage Mr. Irving does have over previous publishers is access to his famously secretive family. Last week, in the midst of the tax-break uproar, the newspaper obtained an interview with Kenneth Irving, the first interview one of Canada's major energy executives has given in two years. However, Jamie Irving, who holds a masters of journalism from Columbia University, is not responding to interview requests. The family may want an even lower profile than usual while a Senate committee is reviewing mass media concentration.

Of course, it would be hard for any newspaper to ignore the torrential controversy that has broken out over the favourable tax treatment of Irving Oil's proposed LNG terminal.

The council's granting of a 25-year fixed tax echoes the old days when the late K.C. Irving would lock up generous 15- to 30-year tax and water deals for his mills and refinery from grateful municipalities.

Now, his grandson Kenneth has won a 25-year tax bill of $500,000 annually, with no inflation indexing, on a terminal project whose value would otherwise yield $3-million to $5-million a year for the city.

In poverty-afflicted Saint John, which is losing population to the suburbs, that amounts to a potential $60-million to $100-million in forgone revenue over 25 years.

"The bottom line is we have 69,000 people living in the city and one-third of them are seniors on fixed incomes," says dissident councillor Ivan Court. "They have no room at all to pay additional taxation. On the other side, you have a billionaire family who is getting tax avoidance."

Yet, Mr. Court and other tax-break opponents say this is not about the family, and that Repsol, not Irving Oil, is driving the demands for a rich tax incentive. City councillors say the Spanish firm, believed to be the majority partner in the terminal, initially wanted no tax at all.

Critics say the key issues are tax equity and the decision-making process. Their major target is Mayor Norm McFarlane, who exclusively negotiated the tax break with Irving Oil, then urged the council to push it through in a single evening session on March 21.

Without the concessions, he said, Repsol, which is supplying the natural gas, would let its option expire at midnight that night and go looking for another site. To support his case, the mayor pointed to the relatively light tax burden of LNG terminals in U.S. cities, although some of those numbers have been disputed in the media.

The mayor admitted the negotiating process was unorthodox because of the energy partners' insistence on confidentiality. But he said his critics have lost sight of the big picture: The potential loss of a $750-million project, one of the elite few LNG terminals to reach this advanced stage, with huge spinoffs in new industry.

He pointed out that the $500,000 in annual tax will require no additional city services at the terminal site. The existing Irving tanker port already pays about $430,000 a year with no city services.

But the $500,000 looks light compared with the $3-million a year to be paid over 20 years by Anadarko Petroleum Corp.'s $450-million proposed terminal at Bear Head on Cape Breton Island. After the first year of operation, the tax at Bear Head would be indexed to inflation.

However, unlike Irving Oil, Anadarko has not yet lined up a partner that can supply the natural gas.

Others say New Brunswickers have to realize that tax concessions are part of the global game for attracting investment. Donald Savoie, a professor of public administration at Université de Moncton, says the Irving-Repsol bargaining is no different than Bombardier's dangling its new jet project before competing municipalities, or the auto makers' scramble for public concessions.

"That is how business is conducted these days," he said, pointing out that the Irvings have proven that they are not fly-by-night operators. "Do they bargain hard? Of course, they are business people."

If it gets built, the project will provide about 700 jobs at peak construction, but only about 20 when it begins operating. That, of course, is a drop in the bucket compared with more than 5,100 employed in the Saint John area by forest products giant, J.D. Irving Ltd., and its sister firm, Irving Oil. The two firms, on their own, make up about 8 per cent of the local work force.

The terminal would complement the family's oil refinery, the biggest in Canada, which handles 250,000 barrels a day, and accounts for half the Canadian export of finished petroleum products to the United States. A few years ago, the refinery underwent a $1.2-billion upgrade.

This week, an Irving Oil affiliate agreed to buy the 75 per cent it did not already own of a natural gas power plant in Saint John. Terms of the agreement to buy the Bayside Power station from Westcoast Energy Inc. were not revealed.

But Mayor McFarlane says he worries about the wider fallout from a proposal, to be put to council this Tuesday, to rescind the tax deal. Even if it doesn't pass, he says, he is concerned about the signal it sends about Saint John's openness to investment.

"There is a great deal of concern throughout Repsol and Irving about this deal," he says, adding that the LNG project itself could still be in peril.

With the controversy refusing to die, it means Jamie Irving will continue to be closely examined for his ability to keep up the even-handed coverage.

He will also be judged by his father, grandfather and uncles as a future leader, which means he will have to demonstrate the Irving fire and toughness. For he is not alone. His sister Kate has just joined the J.D. Irving business and about two dozen fifth-generation cousins are in the wings. The race to build an LNG terminal isn't the only Irving competition to watch.

All in the family

From its beginnings in Bouctouche, N.B., the Irving family empire has grown to encompass oil and gas, shipbuilding, forest products, media and even a Major Junior hockey

James Dergavel: (J.D.) Irving (1860-1933)

Grandson of Scottish immigrants got it rolling by buying a sawmill in Bouctouche, N.B., in 1881.

Kenneth Colin: (K.C.) Irving (1899-1992): son of James Dergavel: (J.D.) Irving

The great empire builder moved to Saint John and took family into energy, retail, food

James (J.K.) Irving: (born 1929): son of Kenneth Colin: (K.C.) Irving

Oldest son inherited management of original business -- trees and forest products -- plus food processing, building supply stores and related operations.

Jim Jr.: son of James (J.K.) Irving

J.K.'s oldest son has day-to-day management of major forestry and pulp and paper operations.

Robert : son of James (J.K.) Irving

Oversees branch operation in Moncton, N.B., consisting of Cavendish Farms, tissue and diaper plants, Midland Transport.

Judy: daughter of James (J.K.) Irving

Owns Moncton-based Hawk Communications, a marketing firm.

Mary Jean: daughter of James (J.K.) Irving

Owns potato farms in PEI, and a Moncton packaging company.

Jamie: son of Jim Jr.

First of his generation, 27-year-old is publisher of Saint John Telegraph

Kate: daughter of Jim Jr.

Younger sister of Jamie, has started working for Uncle Robert in Moncton.

Arthur Irving: (born 1931): son of Kenneth Colin: (K.C.) Irving

Middle son has control of huge family energy business, including Canada's largest refinery and a chain of gas stations.

Kenneth: son of Arthur Irving

Oldest son has operational control of major energy business, including planned LNG terminal.

Arthur Leigh: son of Arthur Irving

Has senior marketing role in energy business.

Daughters of Arthur Irving: Jennifer, Emily and Sarah are not in the business.

John (Jack) Irving: (born 1932): son of Kenneth Colin: (K.C.) Irving

Youngest son took smaller role in property, construction and media.

John Jr.: son of John (Jack) Irving:

A Harvard MBA who has worked in various roles, now with Irvings' real estate.

John (Jack) Irving's daughter Anne and son Colin are not in the business.

Plus about 24 other cousins who are too young to emerge yet as executive talent.

The Irving Family's major holdings

J.D. Irving Ltd., the family forest products arm, owns and manages:

Six million acres of timberland in the Maritimes and Maine

Sawmills, pulp and paper mills

Tissue and diaper plants (Royale, Scotties and Majesta brands)

Kent building supply stores

Kent Homes, modular builder

Cavendish Farms, North America's fourth-largest French fry maker

Midland, Sunbury and RST trucking firms

New Brunswick Southern Railway

Shipping firms, including Kent Line International

Ship and oil rig construction in Halifax. (J.D. Irving Ltd. recently closed its Saint John shipyard)

Irving Oil Ltd., the energy arm owns and manages:

Canada's largest oil refinery in Saint John

Canaport deepwater oil terminal in Saint John

Executive aviation services

A network of service stations in Eastern Canada and New England, including Big Stop restaurants

Newspaper operations:

Dailies in Saint John, Fredericton and Moncton

Thirteen community papers, the dominant N.B. chain

Recently bought a New Brunswick alternative paper with the unique masthead name of [here]

Other family interests:

Major real estate holdings

Construction companies, including Ocean Steel, a maker of structural steel products

Moncton Wildcats Major Junior A hockey team

Hawk Communications, Moncton

Moncton Master Packaging,



Anonymous said...

You could be Hitler himself and as long as you talk to Charles politely he'll think the world of you! Anybody that thinks Irving management doesn't get their marching orders from Irvings doesn't know much about business.

One day Charles is berating the Irvings, the next he says their all right and its management he's after.

The reality of the gas terminal is that there is nowhere else for Repsol to go. All the projects along the eastern seaboard have suppliers. They are supplying the gas, so what do they care about how much tax the terminal is paying? They get paid for their gas either way.

Speaking of fair journalism, notice how the Irvings are portrayed as just 'tough businesspeople' who provide jobs in return for getting what they want. There is no real depth to the story as to how many jobs they provide compared to the cost of 'getting what they want'. It seems the Globe and Mail is as bad at 'fair' journalism as the Telegraph Journal is.

Charles LeBlanc said...

Anyone who's been watching my battle for the last 5 years knows that my battle is with management.

Management are te ones who backmails or blacklist the workers.

Mind you? I did not say that the Irvings are wonderful people!!!

I said that I don't have the feeling that I'm chatting with Billionaires during a conversation.

They are pretty done to earth!!!

Anonymous said...

They are scum of the earth. They are the ones in charge, not management. They are the ones who blackmailed Saint John for the LNG terminal, they are the ones who moved to Bermuda to avoid taxes, they are the ones turning NB forests into tree farms, getting billions in subsidies, closing the shipyards, ripping off NB Power. They are the ones who refused to clean up the Irving Whale when it sunk with PCB's, they are the ones who control the politicians and refuse to print anything about their companies or monopolies.

What is funny is all this comes from a story about the head 'macho' of the Telegraph Journal, and right after that is a blog about how all the newspaper refuse to print letters to the editor and grant freedom of speech except the Daily Gleaner. Just a little consistency please.

Charles LeBlanc said...

I repeat....Talking to them? I don't feel that I'm talking to Billionaires. Yes, you are correct in your comments of the way they act but Management do play a huge role in their decision.

Look at the case of Peter Huggart when he wrote a column telling New Brunswickers in 2003 that we'll only allowed to write one letter per month on any issues.

Months later, the Irvings shut down the shipyard.

Was the column ordered by the Irvings?

I'm just debating the issue here.

Anonymous said...

There is a good study that was done awhile ago that showed that Irving editors are basically picked because they have already internalized the 'irving point of view'. If you read their papers you see almost NO business comments. They have lots of political stuff, and occasionally quote some business think tank, but that's it.

Of course most papers function that way now, nothing is put into context, its just 'stuff that happens'. When you consider how much is editorial content, advertising, entertainment, sports and classifieds, that lives very little rooom for anything else.

You never know, sometimes the 'new blood' aren't big fans of the family, however, if this guy wasn't towing the family line then I doubt he'd be editor.

Anonymous said...

Charlie just give up on this one,7:52 and 10:21 hit it right on the mark there really is nothing else to say they have simplified it for you so just add to it.

you are constantly looking for agreement on your neverending complaints about the Irving Family but when you get it you still feel you must cross examine it.

Take it in its context and move on to the next item of interest.

Charles LeBlanc said...