Just after 9-11 I made a prediction that George W. Bush would either go down in history as one of the best Presidents or one of the worst Presidents of all time. It seemed to me then, and now, that there was no ability to just coast along after 9-11. Either you did nothing and were loathed for it or you tried something and were praised for it. Of course, trying something could also lead to loathing and that’s what came to mind when I read the recent Maclean’s magazine cover story: George Bush: The worst President in 100 Years?

In my opinion, any time the situation calls for strong political leadership, you end up either loved or hated. Take Mulroney. Now he is being called the most environmentally friendly PM of all time. He was among the most reviled and loathed PMs of all time even though he was the most environmentally friendly, he got free trade done and he imposed a value added tax which the Liberals said they would scrap and never did and of course he at least tried to fix Confederation.

Fast forward to now. Jean Charest is attempting some bold moves in Quebec (although it looks like he has backed down somewhat) and his popularity is around the same as W.

But the question I have is this. What’s worse? Attempting a bold strategy of reform and being hated for it or not making any attempt to change things and being basically ignored? Consider our Premier. Over 90% of us have no opinion as to what his legacy will be (as of the last poll). On the national stage, Lord is known for his national ambition but ask someone outside NB what he has actually done here. You will get a blank stare.

Imagine if our Premier had undertook a bold strategy for economic development – a strategy to turn around depopulation and out-migration – a sincere effort to attract and grow new industries to replace the ones that are dying.

What if? Maybe he would have attracted a Bricklin and gone down in history as the guy that wasted $100 million. Maybe he would have spend millions to attract industry and failed. Maybe he would have been reviled.

But reviled for real effort – not for lack of effort.

I, personally, can excuse a politician for trying and failing. I will give an ‘A’ for effort. But I can’t stomach lack of effort.

This malaise New Brunswick has been mired in for almost a decade has set back economic development probably for 30 years or more.

So, I’ll put out the call for a Mulroney. For a Charest. Yes, even for a ‘W’. Someone who will tackle New Brunswick’s most significant crisis since Confederation – and tackle it head on.

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Mulroney was reviled for his personality, the GST, the recession, and his handling-or lack of-the Oka crisis. I don’t think ANYBODY ever even mentioned the environment.

    However, as for the environment, Canada is easily the worst damaging on the planet for its population size, so being the best of a bad lot is still bad. The environmental protections he passed were still pretty light, and endangered species was never even considered. That was done by chretien, but again, nobody praises chretien for his environmental record because the actual legislation was so bad.

    Lord WILL be remembered very passionately by many for things he actually did-close rural hospitals, refuse to do an EIA on Bennett, and of course the LNG tax deal and a quarter billion dollar buyout of lumber companies and doubling wood supplies.

    Those are all pretty big things. If you aren’t connected to them they may not be the things you are looking for -perhaps Molson and Nackawic are more to your liking?

    From my view this is why he is hated on the level that Mulroney is/was. There are lots of people that love Mulroney for free trade, particularly in southern ontario where all the cultural and financial services were protected and everything else was on the chopping block (and they’d be free to invest more elsewhere).

    Just ask anybody in the forestry industry, doubling wood supply will maybe keep the industry afloat for ten years, maybe even twenty so long as you keep subsidizing them. In the end though, no more forest means no more industries in ANYTHING. That’s pretty big, far beyond a bricklin, which at least trained some guys to get decent jobs in southern ontario.

    UPN will be getting far more out of this deal than Malcolm Bricklin could have dreamed, and with nothing but positive press about it! There are BIG things done, unfortunately, almost everyone agrees they were bad from the outset. We can also add ignoring poverty, lowest welfare rates, lowest minimum wage, taxpayer funded private highways, attacks on womens rights, an illegally conducted referendum. There is certainly lots to choose from.

    As mentioned though, McKenna certainly didn’t have a referendum when he introduced VLT’s, and Lord’s government gave boarding tenants basic human rights, which NO government before saw as very important. If you don’t have those rights though, it’s pretty bloody important.

    In the end, if no legislation has personally affected a person too highly to remember it, you should consider yourself lucky.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Just to put a historical perspective on it, this has been pretty much the way things have gone on since confederation. Overreliance on primary industries means more of the budget goes into propping them up, while central canada invests in the newest economies.

    Hatfield tried in some ways to change it, McKenna tried in some ways to change it, Robichaud did as well. The reality is that it has far more to do with the federal government than the provincial one. There are just too many forces acting against innovation. People with jobs don’t like it since it may endanger their job, or they’ll have to pay for it. NB has tons of potential for wind and solar power, but it would cost nuclear jobs. In the end it would be far better than even the Enterprise Fundy model of industrial plant powering.

    Imagine a province reliant on solar and wind power. As temperatures rise, at least the province would get more power. Most importantly, it is far more cost effective than nuclear. So is it better for NB Power to power up to sell power to run the government, or for the province to generate its own cheap plentiful power as an incentive for companies to set up in the province? Ontario certainly is in no position to offer those deals. Stupidly, New Brunswick could have taken advantage of Ontario’s privatization experiment to lure some companies, but the idiots are following their privatization path, guaranteeing once again the province has nothing to offer. Now, is THAT smart? Of course not.