Choosing a Minister for BNB

I was curious about all the speculation about ‘who’ would be the new Cabinet – as if all the talk amounts to much.

Nevertheless, I add my two cents to the mix.

First, I am surprised at how downplayed the position of Minister for Business New Brunswick seems to be. Other bloggers talk about Health, Energy, Finance, Education, Training, etc. and good ol’ BNB falls to about half way down the priority list.

It seems that Lamrock, Murphy, Byrne, MacIntyre, Hache, et. al. are too good to be the Minister for BNB.

It would seem the new Liberal government needs to shake loose the cobwebs of the last seven years. It’s true that BNB was not an overly desired portfolio in the Lord government. I had a mid level BNB manager tell me in 2003 “Would you want to run a department that keeps getting its mandate and budget chopped?”.

But it was not always so. Before it was called Business New Brunswick (a name I always disliked – we spent over a decade trying to educate people about what the term ‘economic development’ meant and they scrap it for the meaningless Business New Brunswick which could easily mean a trade group, association, whatever. I prefer Department of Economic Development.

But I digress.

At one point, being Minister of economic development was a highly coveted post – filled with folks like Losier, Theriault and even MacIntyre. Even though you were overshadowed by Frank himself you were still heading the sexiest and most enviable portfolio in government (in my humble opinion).

It should be that way again. Cripes, Graham Jr. wants to bring us to self sufficiency within 20 years! That would take an economic miracle – Business New Brunswick or whatever more appropriate name there is – would have to be by definition the most important portfolio in government if your goal is such an economic turnaround that we can eliminate $1.4 billion in annual Equalization payments (which are in rapid growth) in 20 years.

So, to those who would place ‘BNB’ at the margin of plum ministerial jobs, phooey on you.

Second to the Premier, this must be the top job in Cabinet.

Unless, of course, you follow my previous advice and set up a separate, Nova Scotia Business Inc. type organization for investment attraction and trade development and leave ‘BNB’ as a policy, special projects and liaison type department. Then the top job in Cabinet would be the latter.

How’s that for confusing things?

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0 Responses to Choosing a Minister for BNB

  1. Anonymous says:

    Lost your email David, check this out:

    Maybe there should be a provincial version? Irvings, McCains, Ganongs?

  2. scott says:

    I’m not sure if setting up the infrastructure or a separate BNB dept is the answer. It’s a good start, but not the answer.

    It was quite evident that the Opposition under Graham didn’t do a good job of criticizing the government on their economic shortcomings. It is true when they say that when an opposition leader moves into the Prime Minster’s chair or the premier’s chair, he or she must prove themselves worthy of the position before they enter into it, either through their own policies or their own actions. I just didn’t see this with Graham. His promises were not properly thought out in advance of the election, as was eveident in the manner in which policy on the fly was in full tilt, not during the sitting, but after the dissolving of the leg.

    For someone who witnessed a party like reform, who did their homework on the many problems plaguing the government for many years prior to taking the reigns in Ottawa, Graham’s proposals are like a huge piece of ice, a mile long and an inch thick.

  3. to it and at it says:

    > For someone who
    > witnessed a party
    > like reform, who did
    > their homework
    > on the many problems
    > plaguing the
    > government for many
    > years prior to
    > taking the reigns in
    > Ottawa

    Yes, I was so impressed to see the first thing Harper did was appoint some dude into the Senate so he could be an unelected cabinet minister. Those Reform guys sure did their homework.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Hey now, be fair. Harper is no ‘reform’ PM. He is a ‘new conservative’ PM. The reform, much to many a westerner and easterner’s chagrin, was killed off to resusitate the old PC party. Now, of course, we once again have two centrist parties-meaning central canada. Lot’s of people think its a ‘western’ based party, not at all, Alberta just wants Ottawa to leave them alone, which it has been doing for years.

    Anyway, to return to little old NB, of course you get a platform on the fly when the government has a surprise election. Remember, ‘2007, 2007, 2007’

    The usual problem with economic development is you get blamed when it doesn’t work. Hatfield got blamed, though it didn’t end his career, ACOA got blamed for every business venture til now we see they don’t invest in business at all. McKenna gets blamed because his business centered policies didn’t actually change anything permanently.

    So I suspect Graham won’t make ED a front burner issue either, partly because a couple of by-elections and he could be toast. With a close government you tend to play your cards close to your chest.

  5. Cooker Boy says:

    Scrap BNB and rebuild from the ground up. The only thing it is good for today is fundin trade shows and trade missions.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Well, THAT isn’t going to happen:)

  7. David Campbell says:

    Actually, Bernard Lord did try and split the two functions (investment & trade) and everything else when he first took office. 18 months later they were recombined. I just don’t know how you take a department that has been oriented one way for seven years and staffed at the senior level with folks that agreed with the former government’s approach (and in fact many of them were hired because of their relationship with certain politicians) and say okay now we want to go in a totally different level. Don’t forget McKenna actually set up a mini economic development department in the Premier’s Office in 1987 – to take personal control of ED. I am not sure that Graham wants to do that but it will require some major restructuring, in my opinion.