You have heard the old Chinese saying “A long journey starts with the first step”. This past weekend, I took this literally. My brother and I took our daughters (8 and 9) to climb Mount Katahdin in Maine.
Given the age of my daughter and her cousin, I suspected we would only make it to the base of the mountain (a 5.3 kilometre hike each way so 10.6 kms). But when we got the base of the mountain, the girls looked up and told us they wanted to continue. So we did.
It was another 3.6 kms to the top – and this was almost straight up. It was gruelling. I do this every year and it doesn’t get any easier. We made it to the top. The girls didn’t seem to mind at all. Passersby were shocked that two young girls made the climb. So were we.
The next day, as I was sore all over after an 18 km hike to the top of a mountain and back, I asked my daughter how she felt. No problem. Not sore a bit.
There’s a point here. Many people have said to me that there is no way to rehabilitate New Brunswick’s economy. That we will never be a ‘have’ province in our lifetime. That we are too dependent on seasonal jobs, declining industries and tourism/retail. That out-migration is inevitable. That subsequent governments have neglected economic development for decades.
Remember, they tell me, that you have told us that the last time this province grew its population faster than the national average was in the 1850s.
I know I said that. I know that these things are difficult but “A long journey starts with the first step”. Like my daughter, we may find out it is easier to do than we think. Let’s attract a few large projects – an auto plant or an aerospace plant or some other 1,000 – 2,000 job projects. Let’s just see where it goes. I suspect (like Alabama, South Carolina, Georgia, Ireland, etc.) that this will start a chain reaction that will lead to more substantitive and structural change. Maybe if blue collar workers are paid $18-$20/hour they won’t want EI. Maybe if there are good jobs for our university grads, they won’t leave the province. Maybe if our government gets a little taste of success, they will want more.
That’s a lot of maybes……