Good night, and good luck

I just got back from watching that film about Edward R. Morrow, Good Night, and Good Luck. While this is no action thriller, it is an interesting film. It’s shot in black and white and weaves in actual footage in a clever fashion.

I’m not a movie reviewer but I will say that having already read about Senator Joseph McCarthy and his Communist hunting activities in the 1950s, I was struck once again about how disinformation can be a powerful tool.

I in no way equate modern day New Brunswick to that time but I think that disinformation as a political tool is alive and well in this province. I got in the mail (as I assume all New Brunswickers did) on Friday my “Pre-budget Consultation” document – paid for by our tax dollars so I assume it was meant for us to review and then be able to have an intelligent discussion (or consultation) about what the budget priorities should be for 2007.

I wonder how much it cost to write, publish and send this document out to 300,000 New Brunswick households? A million dollars? More? Less? No matter. You could have just as easily stamped a PC Party label on that document and called it a promotional brochure for the party.

There was not one shred of objectivity in that document cover to cover. Not once piece of information that would be useful in a ‘budget consultation’. They cherry picked (and then greatly massaged) about a dozen or so statistics and then wrote up a bold piece of public relations.

Nothing about population decline. Nothing about serious industry challenges. Nothing about the increasing dependance on Equalization. Nothing about having the second highest unemployment rate in Canada. Nothing about obesity. Nothing about the least active poopulation in Canada. Nothing about the lowest rates of education in Canada. Nothing about the lowest level of household Internet connections in Canada. Nothing about the lowest level of research and development in Canada.

Just a few massaged statistics. Take my favorite (hence I gripe about it almost daily) – GDP per capita. The Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of a province or country is one measure (and not a very good one) of the size of the economy. On a per capita basis it measures the size of your economy adjusted for a better comparison to larger or smaller economies. In our famous “pre-budget consultation document” we are shown a big chart showing that NB has out-paced the country over the Lord’s time in power for GDP per capita.

Now the fact is that we have underpeformed the rest of Canada all but one of the years Lord has been in power for GDP growth. That is, simply, the growth of the economy (i.e. economic growth for you slow learners). However, because New Brunswick is having serious population issues, on a per capita basis, the figures look somewhat better.

But think about the twisted logic of that (disinformation). If New Brunswick’s economy lost half its population, its GDP per capita would look better than Alberta. But that would be cold comfort, wouldn’t it?

Then my second favorite disinformation – exports. The Irving Refinery came on line early in Lord’s mandate and added something like $1 billion to the overall exports from NB. Presto! Great statistic! NB leads country in exports growth! But peel away the refinery and we are hurting on a while whack of different industries that are dependant on exports. But no mention of that in the “pre-budget consultation document”. No, we are told that exports are booming.

Thanks very much, Mr. Irving.

I know that some of you will Google disinformation and come up with a differing definition than mine. But look beyond definition to the point I am trying to make.

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0 Responses to Good night, and good luck

  1. Anonymous says:

    Is ‘selective information’ the same as ‘disinformation’? That’s the question. In more honest times we simply called both ‘propaganda’.
    It isn’t useful to compare with McCarthy, about as useful as Mr. Leblanc’s frequent repetition “it’s old Germany all over again”.
    I know yours wasn’t a comparison, but the ‘idea’ is still there.
    It comes down to, what do you really EXPECT from the government? McKenna certainly wasn’t touting economic failures and challenges, he hired a massive PR department that did nothing but send out ‘glowing reports’.
    We live in a system of ‘responsible government’, voters hae one use, and one tool only-electing a party. So even if it IS just a PR piece, what of it? What else do parties give about their policies BUT PR?
    In New BRunswickers were actually to play a part in the process, then there clearly would be far different information available. The most we can grant government is as Trudeau says, we live in a ‘consultative democracy’. The government checks with us periodically-then does what it wants anyway.

    However, IF New Brunswickers ALL were to get involved politically, it would be far different. However, that is far from the case, and Lord knows it.

  2. David Campbell says:

    I simply expect government to clearly articulate the economic realities of New Brunswick. I expect them to create an atmosphere that we need to something, anything, as a province (and a public) to start chipping away at the problems that have left us at or near the bottom across almost every economic and social statistic in North America. When I meet a stranger in the coffee shop, I want him/her to have a keen interest in the future of the province in which they have chosen to live. I want Joe Q. Public to say enough is enough – we want action now. I feel we have slipped into a dopey, trance-like state when it comes to the future of our province and this has been propped up by the mindless drivel coming out of the government’s spin machine and reflected by in large on the pages of our print media.

    I want us to try for 10 years or so in a systematic and deliberate way to overcome our economic challenges. I want us to lead North America in government and communty-led efforts to drive economic development in the five or so regions of New Brunswick. If at the end of 10 years and after having spent a considerable amount of taxpayer dollars and government/community leaders’ time, we have nothing to show for it – then I still think it will have been worth the effort. Not trying anything is akin to giving up and I for one am not quite ready to give up on New Brunswick just yet.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Ah, THERE”s the rub. Let’s ask this though, has writing a blog created those conditions for you? Do you HONESTLY think that any government will do that? As they say, once all options have been eliminated, whatever remains, MUST be the truth.

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, you are bashing your sword against the castle wall, and the drawbridge is open right next to you. You gave part of the answer in the last part of that last post. Just hold on, the new website is coming that clears up all the above gibberish!

  4. David Campbell says:

    I anxiously await this ‘website’.

  5. scott says:

    Not trying anything is akin to giving up and I for one am not quite ready to give up on New Brunswick just yet.

    Until you stop saying great lines like the one above, then I will stop saying “run” David “run”.

    Please, for the love of God, pick a party and get in the game. Anything less from you is just a rant in the wind.

    New Brunswick needs you and you need New Brunswick.

    An economically competitive NB that is!

  6. Anonymous says:

    Have you ever talked with opposition MPs or staffers?

    Why don’t you write up a couple of short, easy-to-understand questions about the most flagrant bullshit in the consultation document, and e-mail ’em to Kelly Lamrock? Kelly has his faults, but he’s not dumb, and he’s not shy.