A weekend article in the Telegraph Journal called “Lord to sell new N.B. in Alberta” spent more ink on Lord’s federal ambitions than on ‘selling NB’ out west.
However, the Premier was quoted as saying:
“The objective is to reinforce the new social and economic reality in Atlantic Canada, that there have been changes. We’re going to talk about the new things going on in the Atlantic provinces, give them another perspective of the dynamism, enthusiasm and confidence that exist in the Atlantic provinces.”They’ll highlight investments in education, a qualified workforce, balanced budgets and tax cuts and investments in infrastructure.
Now, having spent time out west and having government officials in Red Deer tell me that ‘we do things differently out here’ as a veiled reference to our perceived lack of work ethic, I would suggest that the Premier tweak his messaging. For example, if the Premier talks about (as he says) NB’s investments in education, balanced budgets and infrastructure investments the Albertans will think “paid for by us”. If the Premier talks aobut a ‘qualified workforce’ the Albertans will think “how can we get the few qualified workers from NB out here to work in Fort McMurray?”.
If the Premier talks about ‘dynamism’, ‘enthusiasm’ and ‘confidence’, the Albertans will go to the Stats Canada web site and see a declining population, strong out-migration and low levels of business investment and say to themselves “what have they got to be dynamic about?”.
So, if I were one of the Premier’s handlers (okay, let’s just pretend a bit here), I would say the speech should contain these points:
1. NB realizes the billions in subsidies you are throwing at us and we are thankful.
2. Unfortunately, all that money has not translated into new economic opportunities – we are still at the tail end of Canada’s economy for almost every measure.
3. So, we are proposing a new strategy. We want to carve off 10% of all moneys thrown at us through Equalization and put it directly into economic development. Yes, we know that will be hundreds of millions but we think this is the only way to ever reduce our dependancy on Alberta – which, ultimatley, will be a win-win for both provinces.
4. So, I am here to ask your support to help us grow our economy and reach some level of self sufficiency (after all isn’t that the ‘Tory’ line?). As we investment this new money into economic development, don’t gripe at us. As we start to see our economy grow – and yes, maybe even rival Alberta – don’t complain and demand your money back. You see, we heard former Ontario Premier Mike Harris when he said in the Ontario legislature that Nova Scotia keeping its offshore royalties was “a little like the welfare bum who wins the lottery and then wants to keep his welfare cheque”. We know that this opinion is widely held in Alberta as well. But if we can aggressively attack our economic problems, if we can become a magnet for foreign investment, if we can lead all of Canada for employment growth and new investments, we will generate the taxes needed to pay our way in Confederation and reduce our dependancy on you and you will get to keep more of your own money.
5. So, in conclusion, I am not here to serve up a load of crap about “the dynamism, enthusiasm and confidence that exist in the Atlantic provinces”. We are hurting. Our economies are reaching a tipping point where the combination of population decline, increasing cost of government services and the frustration in Ontario about the ‘fiscal imbalance’ could threaten our way of life in Atlantic Canada. We need a fundamental change in direction. And we need your help.
What do you think? Should I be a speech writer for the Premier?
Hee. Hee. Hee.