One of the commentators on the life of Louis J. Robichaud this week commented that without the former Premier’s reforms we would have been an ‘Alabama North’. Elizabeth Weir was famous for saying that Frank McKenna was turning New Brunswick into an ‘Alabama North’. Why Alabama? Have the people that make these pronouncements ever been there? Why not Louisiana? Mississippi?
It seems to me we would be doing very well to become an ‘Alabama North’. Let me give you a few stats:
-Alabama’s GDP per capita is much higher than New Brunswicks.
-Median family income is 10% higher in Alabama.
-23% of Alabama’s adults have a university degree compared to 16% of New Brunswickers (over 25).
-80% of Alabama adults have completed high school compared to 66% of New Brunswickers.
-15.7% of New Brunswick families are under the poverty line compared to 12.5% in Alabama.
-Alabama’s population grew over 10% from 1990 to 2000 compared to less than 1% growth in New Brunswick.
Finally, our Federal government commissioned a report in the late 1990s that evaluated the standard of living in all U.S. states and Canadian Provinces. New Brunswick was third last (PEI and Newfoundland were lower) and Alabama was middle of the pack.
The next time someone ignorantly invokes the ‘Alabama North’ moniker, you will be armed with the facts. We would need a major economic and social boost just to reach the status of ‘Alabama North’.
It makes you wonder where we get our inflated sense of identity as a province? Maybe if we all had a little reality check, there might be a little more interest in trying to improve ourselves.