Streeeeeeeetch it out a little more, please

If you ever have the time to wade through Resurgo, volumes I and II, you won’t be disappointed if like me you live for those little stories or anecdotes that come in handy during blogging or at parties.

For example, the famous fights between the editor of the local paper (I forget if it was the Times or the Transcript) and the Mayor – leading to fisticuffs.

But I digress.

The little story has to do with a certain Liberal politician – federal, I think, that come election time would be out in the mud of the Petitcodiac acting like he was surveying for a new bridge that the government would build should they get elected. Anyway, this old politician did this a few elections.

And that reminds me of the new Gunningsville (?) bridge. The construction of this bridge was stretched out for six years – and two elections – and I am still not sure they will meet their target of November. I was sure the Tories would flow the funds at such a pace that they would get three elections out of that bridge.

They will anyway as they will take credit for it once again in 2007 or 2008 when the call an election.

I am always amazed at how politicians can get serious political capital from doing things that had to be done. The new bridge was essential – it was a shame it hadn’t been done years ago. The new French language high school was not even an option – there would have been a revolt. Expansion at the local hospital – meme chose.

And yet, Monctonians love the government like none other. I’m not even sure that Mike Murphy will keep his seat next time around. The benevolence of the Tories will be sung from the rafters.

For me, this is a bit like kids praising their parents for making supper. It had to be done – and yet the kids act like there was a chance the parents may have forgot or just decided not to offer supper.

Governments expand schools, hospitals, bridges and even Justice buildings – in a totally reactive way. When the demand is there, when things are bursting, they do it. They shouldn’t get undue credit for this. What they should get credit for is when they do things in a totally proactive way – showing courage and leadership.

Anybody, maybe even me, can authorize the building of a school for French high school kids when there are thousands more Acadian kids living in the region. Duh, that’s a no brainer.

But how about a new strategy to attract high tech jobs to Moncton? How about a world class research centre at U de M focusing on e-Learning that attracts top research talent and e-Learning companies from around the globe?

That would take more than reading a demographic chart or addressing that stack of letters from irate Monctonians demanding their new school.

It would take leadership. Speculation. Courage.

That’s the kind of bridge I think we should be evaluating the success of our politicians on.

Bricks and mortar are easy. Ideas and brain power are hard.

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0 Responses to Streeeeeeeetch it out a little more, please

  1. Anonymous says:

    Pay a good percentage of the company’s cost, or at least more than competing regions is all that works-otherwise companies go to mexico or India or China. Call centres certainly don’t show up in Campbellton because of the location, education, or dynamic work force. It’s partly because of low wages due to a desperate population and the rest because the government pays a good percentage of the costs.

    Setting up learning centres is tougher and once again the central problem is one of politics-give too much for one area and the others are screaming. Moncton is doing pretty well so the idea of giving it more doesn’t sit so well with the rest of the province, where things aren’t so rosy. Moncton gets tech jobs and St.John gets…an LNG terminal.

    I don’t agree with your conclusion from your political rant, I don’t necessarily look for leadership and ‘courage’ (easy for them, they’ve got a decent job and pension). I just expect them to do what they said they would do during the election. If they promised a bridge-build the damn bridge. It may very well be reactive, I don’t care. The last thing we need from politicians is what we have-politicians who say one thing then do another. Nobody really criticizes this aspect of our ‘democracy’, even though it essentially defeats the whole idea of representative democracy. If they don’t do what they say they will-what the heck is the point? Courage and leadership is for soldiers and boy scouts, what we need is more democracy. That means a little LESS leadership and a little more listening to constituents….especially after the votes are counted.

  2. David Campbell says:

    Well, Mr. Proportional Representation, I hope you are right. I hope ‘democracy’ will solve all our problems. But after studying in great detail a number of economies that were like New Brunswick but slowly turned things around, the fundamental requirement was strong leadership. So, on the issue of leadership, my friend, we will have to – once again – agree to disagree.

    PS – here’s a little off topic and wildy maniac comment – what’s so great about democracy? I can name you a number of examples where countries under an ‘alternate’ form of governance achieved much higher outcomes (as measured by GDP, income, poverty reduction, etc.). Take Brazil, for example, that country had the highest levels of economic growth with stable inflation under a ‘benevolent’ dictatorship.

    I am sure to get angry responses for this one :-)

  3. Anonymous says:

    Democracy was never intended to even offer ‘good government’, it is intended to guarantee the maximum amount of representation. However, note the economic success of Switzerland, which also has the most democratic tools. Kuwait has wonderful economic indicators-so long as you are one of the minority landowners, and not one of women or foreigners who is not allowed to vote or own property.

    As usual it just depends on what you look at for economic indicators. If you think Brazil had a ‘benevolent dictatorship’ I suggest you look a little closer at the child murders, secret police, shanty towns, private police forces, etc. It got so bad that this past election saw a populist President, who is close to a Chavez in Venezuela, get elected in a landslide despite concrete ‘establishment’ support for his opponent.

    However, NB is FAR from either of those, even Proportional Representation is only a step. I did an interesting experiment the other day and compared the types of bills being passed in NB and those that were passed in Nova Scotia’s minority government. It’s VERY interesting reading, check it out sometime.

    This doesn’t reflect on economics, as you say, democracy is not cost effective for business. Particularly in liquified natural gas. In Maine, all the towns had referendums, and all but one voted no. In NB, not only do people not have a choice but Irving gets a HUGE tax break. Of course WE pay the costs for any leaks and accidents. So it may not be so cost effective in the long run.