I was in the Miramichi this weekend and was somewhat surprised to see signs all over the city stating emphatically Join our Fight! Save the Miramichi. In addition to these Union-sponsored billboards, other businesses and organizations have posted variations on this theme in front of their establishments.
Why now? Why after years of population decline and numerous warning signs about this specific mill closure, why now? It seems that in current New Brunswick politics, it is fashionable not to act on a problem until there is no other choice. When do we pursue education reform? After we fall to dead last in Canada for standardized test scores. When do we begin to tackle our population obesity problem? After we become the most obese population in Canada. When do we pursue auto insurance reform? When there is no other choice. When do we begin to push for immigration reform? When our population falls into decline.
The same can be said for economic development. Economic developers have warned this government for years that the situation is getting worse not better. That if we don’t act and make a serious effort to revive most of our communities, the whole province will suffer deeply. However, these calls have fallen on deaf ears. ‘Why focus on economic development?’ says the politician. The calls coming into my office on a daily basis are related to potholes and hospitals.
Take the recent throne speech which was applauded by newspaper editors and opposition politicians alike. What was the emphasis? Spending the few extra dollars sent our way in Federal pogey on token social programs and nominal tax cuts.
Not one mention of our population decline. Not one mention of the rural exodus. Nary a mention of the deep economic problems facing the majority of communities in New Brunswick.
Where’s the leadership? Haven’t we learned from history? I am forced to conclude that politics is a nasty businesses.
What experience and history teach is this — that people and governments never have learned anything from history, or acted on principles.
-19th Century philosopher George Wilhelm Hegel