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.