My father, a former Baptist minister, used to say that people could be so heavenly minded they were no earthly good.
The interpretation of this saying is simple. For a Baptist, people are put on this world for a reason. To do good. To help their fellow man. To show them the path that is straight and narrow. If a person spends all their time trying to be ‘holy’ and meditate on the afterlife, they will have no impact on the here and now. They will, in effect, be no earthly good.
That brings me to my analogy. There has been a lot of grumbling (myself included) about the New Brunswick government’s lack of movement in just about every area. Economic development, immigration, NB Power, education, and on and on. The recurring theme among the people involved is ‘when are these guys going to do something?’.
Nova Scotia on the other hand has been busy. They have negotiated a $2 billion deal with the Feds. They have rebranded themselves as a province (the new Come to Life brand is very interesting). They have the beginnings of a real immigration strategy (they brought in three times as many immigrants in 2003 than New Brunswick). They have some concept of economic development.
So why are our guys doing almost nothing? Why no movement on critical issues that will impact the province for the next generation?
Consider my father’s words.
Bernard Lord has been courted for Federal politics almost since he came to power in 1999. Now we see he is hosting a hospitality suite at the Conservative convention so he can, in the words of the Toronto Star, do some ‘ glad-handing’. This potential for leadership at the Federal level, I submit, has skewed everything the Premier may have done to fix things in New Brunswick.
You see, when you make bold moves. When you take a stand on issues. When you fight for something you invariably annoy various interest groups. And this can come back to bite you on the arse when you seek higher office.
When you have higher ambitions in political life, all your decisions are made through the lense of impact. How will this impact my future ambitions.
And that leads to paralysis.
Hence, no action in New Brunswick. Mr. Premier, what about economic development? Check back with me in 10 years (after the end of the Prosperity Plan). Mr. Premier, what about immigration? Mr. Premier, what about education? Check back with me at the end of 10 years (the Quality Learning Agenda). Mr. Premier, what about population decline in New Brunswick for the first time since Confederation?
Sorry, I can’t rock the boat. I have higher ambitions.
Let’s hope the next guy/gal who takes over the 2nd floor at the Centennial Building in Fredericton doesn’t have as much ambition. Let’s hope their actions speak louder than their words. Let’s hope that any future ambition they might have is based on their success in New Brunswick (as opposed to their avoidance of controversy).