I decided to post the entire Liberal press release for a purpose. See my notes below:
A Liberal government will make New Brunswick a leader in economic development again as part of their “Charter for Change,” Liberal Leader Shawn Graham vowed today. “My vision for this province is as straightforward as it is challenging. I want New Brunswick to join the ranks of the ‘have’ provinces and I want the province to accomplish this over the next 20 years,” said Mr. Graham “We’ll put our province on the road to self-sufficiency by turning New Brunswick into a leader in energy conservation and generation, by going from worst to first in education and by making job creation a priority again.”
Mr Graham announced that his government would work co-operatively with the private sector, the universities and colleges, the education system, unions and all levels of government to lead New Brunswick towards this goal. “I believe that a Liberal government will create a climate where business will want to invest, where entrepreneurs will turn their idea into a reality and where workers can reach their full potential.”
Mr Graham outlined key elements that distinguish his approach from the current government, including strong and involved leadership, meaningful support of small business start-ups, a new energy program, support for traditional industries, being first users of NB-generated Information Technology products and investment in infrastructure. “We need a government that will be at the table when business comes to call, not asleep at the switch. We need a government that will open the door to investment and innovation, and that will support our traditional industries.
A Liberal Government will be hands-on and make New Brunswick an economic leader again,” said Mr Graham. “We won’t sit by or wait-and-see like the Lord Government has done for almost eight years.”
Under the current Lord Government, New Brunswick’s economic growth rate has lagged behind the rest of Canada since 2001. GDP growth was second last in the country last year, and increases in real personal income have not kept pace with the rest of the country. At the same time, New Brunswick has one of the highest inflation rates in the country.
After all the grand language coming out of the Lord government, I would have preferred a more understated position from Graham. A little more “watch what I do, not what I say”. Joining the ranks of the ‘have’ provinces is a noble goal and one I support but I don’t think people understand the massive undertaking it would be. But that’s just me. It’s hard not to be cynical after all the “billion with a ‘b'” shtick we are seeing these days.
I still think politicians don’t like to talk about ‘attracting businesses’ to the provinces. Even Graham talks about “meaningful support of small business start-ups, a new energy program, support for traditional industries, being first users of NB-generated Information Technology products and investment in infrastructure.” Both Graham and Lord talk about ‘investment’ but that is a relatively ambigous term. One of these guys should say we are going to build new growth sectors in the province by attracting world class firms and supporting the growth of entrepreneurs. Is that so hard?
Overall, Graham is sounding like a guy who has been consulting with both McKenna and Donald Savoie. And that can’t be a bad thing.
Contrast that with Mr. Lord who turned his back on the McKenna approach calling for a “made in New Brunswick solution for economic development”.
I may be a voice in the wilderness but I think we need to bring back McKenna’s ideas on economic development.