The New Brunswick Legislature

Shawn Graham is saying that the New Brunswick Legislature is the laughingstock of Legislatures across the ‘Commonwealth’. Upon some reflection, I have to agree.

I know this will rub you the wrong way but I’ll say it anyway. The New Brunswick Legislature 100-150 years ago was a place where society’s top thinkers and aristocrats came together to debate the issues of the day.

Compare that to today. Again, I am not an elitist but we’ve got 20 somethings and 30 somethings with zero world experience at the Cabinet table leading a $6 billion budget. We’ve got Tankers and tupperware salespersons. We’ve got guys that couldn’t get elected to Dieppe town council. We’ve got people with ‘tripods’ – whatever that means.

Why aren’t New Brunswick’s best and brightest attracted to politics? What is wrong? Where are the retired presidents of large corporations? Men/women with experience running large organizations? Where are the community leaders that want to make a difference? Where are folks of passion, intellect and desire?

Some people blame the pay. Some people blame the public scrutiny. Some people blame the media. Some say the hassle is not worth it.

But unless we can start attracting top minds back to the Legislature, I fear that the silliness of this week will continue. I fear that our ability to lead or innovate will be impeded. I fear that New Brunswick’s slow burn will continue.

So, to all you voters out there, here’s a challenge. When you are voting next time, pretend you have just won $1 million and the guy/gal you are putting your X beside will be the person you are entrusting to manage that money. Because in a very real sense, that is what you are doing. You are placing the $10s of thousands of dollars in taxes you will pay over the 8-15 years we give these guys in their hands. But more than that, we are placing the very future of the province in their hands.

I should delete this entry and I abhor elitism – but for cripes sake folks, look around.

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0 Responses to The New Brunswick Legislature

  1. Anonymous says:

    Yes, it was quite elitist, but that’s OK. As an economic historian I can guarantee you that 100-150 years ago it was no different. Politicians were still lawyers and ex-businessmen. Personally, the last person I’d want to represent me was some ex-CEO who was used to everything being done ‘his way’.

    Politics is that way for a reason. However, go read some committee manuscripts and you will find the exact ‘people of intellect’ you are referring to. And they aren’t heads of corporations or community leaders. They are people just like you or me who are just trying to get by and make a difference. They are honest (in what they say anyway) and hardworking. Often they are university trained but read some of the transcripts from some native or small woodlot owners, and they have ten times the knowledge that our elected officials or even governing officials have. And they express it clearly and honestly. Which is why you don’t read about it in the papers I suppose.

    The problem is, everything they say is ignored by media, and worse, ignored by the people who are supposed to represent them. They are even often denigrated by the ‘chattering class’ by being called ‘special interests’.

    If you want to hear ‘intelligent design’ in politics, just take out the politicians.

  2. Atlantic Canada First says:

    Yeah, David, but here’s the problem:

    We have a collection of people at the highest levels of provincial power who are allergic to making sound public policy. How else can we explain the ludicrous “5-in-5” priority platform?

    At the same time, we endure a mainstream media monopoly which, with few exceptions, contents itself by massaging the press releases from Freddy without analysis or sensible review.

    (Frankly, it astonishes me that I still have a column in the Times & Transcript, given Hogan’s prediliction for rolling over to power, and my innate mistrust of so-called authority figures).

    Be that as it may. . .We are never going to attract the talent we need to govern this province without providing the candidates with a reason to stay.

    Why aren’t New Brunswick’s best and brightest attracted to politics? Largely because they’re trying to land themselves elsewhere, and without apologies.

    Meanwhile, the province’s returning ex-pats have already made their bones in the fields of business, law, communications, etc. They come back to New Brunswick not to lead but to die, usually in luxury.

    Sick, but true.

    I agree with you, however. . .

    It’s long past time for those of us who do most of the living and earning and investing and spending and dreaming and hoping and planning and building in this province to put our mouths where our money is.

    Find the rational thinkers, and exalt them. Draft them into public service, as you might plant a tree.


  3. scott says:

    I agree wholeheartedly with Alec. We do not have the best and the brightess, because they have up and left.

    And don’t kid yourself, this phenomenon is not just an isolated trend which is solely taking place in NB, it is slowly happening in Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and PEI as well.

    Read the details of this MPP who was recently elected in a by-election inthe Ottawa riding of Nepean-Carleton.

    Lisa is a native bluenoser who moved to the capital when Joe Clark was elected as PC leader in ’98.

    She told me in 2004 that she misses Pictou county and would very much like to return, but realizes that since she is not part of the chosen class (i.e. Peter Mackay), nor is she old enough to appeal to the aging society; not to forget that there is no job to sustain the type of lifestyle she has become accustom to in Ontario. So therefore, it was best she run in a region[Nepean]where more affluent middle class families would vote for her.

    So there’s the dilemma, I am sure there are many people, like Lisa, who would pack up and come back if given an equal opportunity to succeed here in the maritimes.

    Not to downplay the many great things discussed on this blog, but I don’t think a few multinational companies dispersed all over the maritime provinces will be able to attract these type of individuals, in the next decade, back to our region. I can’t put my finger on it, but something else needs to be fixed besides the raw economic factors.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Amen to the above (directly above), except the penchant for blaming voters instead of elected officials. Sure, its the old geezers in Pictou’s fault who elect a different party than the person running. Just because some girl is dumb enough to think that she can’t win at home is no reason to blame the electorate. Chances are pretty good those in NS have far different issues than Ontario.

    However, usually people’s definition of ‘best and brightest’ tends to be people who share the same beliefs as those who are making the claim. Perhaps its people’s way of feeling smarter themselves, if they tout somebody else up as being really smart, and who, by the way, says the same things they say.

    But being a truer sycophant seems an odd way to address political and economic issues, but if that’s your idea, go to it. Where exactly those people are is unknown, WHO they are is an even greater mystery. But if that’s the best suggestion, I am just giddy with anticipation to see the names that are thrown up! You’re missing one main obstacles:the political parties.