Rectifying inconsistencies

I just heard Shawn Graham on CTV talking with Jane Tabor at the Liberal convention. He has the shtick down pretty good – in the short term more Equalization (10 province/resources revenue in standard) to lead to a weening off within 20 years. Taber expressed some doubt that NB could ever achieve self-sufficiency but Graham never wavered.

What’s curious to me is this. If Graham wants the $150 or $200 million more from the new Equalization formula to invest in growth that will reduce the province’s dependence on Equalization (all $1.4 billion of it – soon to be $1.6 billion in Graham gets his new formula) why fight for a new Equalization formula at all? Why not try and negotiate a new $150 million multi-year economic development agreement with the Feds?

One would presume that if the goal is to reduce the $1.4 billion in Equalization over 20 years, the province better get crackin’ and you don’t do that by taking in ever more amounts of Equalization for the next 5-6 years.

If NB just gets a sweeter Equalization deal, the temptation will always be there to rely on it – not only not reducing it the very nature of the formula means that as NB falls deeper into population decline and economic hardship (such as mill closures), we get more and more Equalization.

Whereas a dedicated joint Fed/Prov economic development agreement over 5 years, has to direct the funds to economic development projects. In addition, I don’t think that a change in government would matter. What government is going to cancel a program who’s very goal is to lead to ‘self-sufficiency’?

Quite frankly I fear that the more lucrative the Equalization program, the less impetus there will be for real change in New Brunswick.

As we learned with Bernard Lord, it’s a lot easier to rake in the Federal cash and spend it on health care than to try and seriously tackle the economic problems in New Brunswick which will actually cut Federal Equalization cash.

If Graham is serious about self sufficiency, he is going to have to make serious changes to how things are done in New Brunswick. Serious policy changes that will lead to 3-4 times as much private sector investment in the province. Serious investments in building an environment conducive to attract investment and stimulate real entrepreneurship.

A good first step would be publicly committing to serious new funding for economic development. Not just a few bucks more but a doubling or tripling of funding and a clear strategy with real targets and significant accountability. We don’t have time for seven years of more coasting.

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0 Responses to Rectifying inconsistencies

  1. Anonymous says:

    I quite agree and I think you’ve got some good moves here that would make good lobby points. A federal investment scheme, and a payroll scheme.

    Although the site has great stuff about Hogan, how about continually doing research on those two subjects and focusing on them. Maybe have one day a week where its on each of those, otherwise, ‘ideas’ tend to get lost in the shuffle.

    For the feds scheme, perhaps calling it “The Auto-Pharma-R&D-WheatBoard-MadCow-BCPort-Oil subsidy-naturalgas-closedownourgoddamport- Equalization Investment scheme”

    However, the one addition needs to be to what specific sectors does it go? That’s the problem. Animation and media are cool ideas, the province sucks in those areas, no surprise there is little cultural identity.

    However, what other sectors are there? Or even what sectors can be altered to provide incentive to use lumber/fish/farms more effectively? These are huge issues that are never even touched on.

  2. scott says:

    If Graham is serious about self sufficiency, he is going to have to make serious changes to how things are done in New Brunswick.

    Bingo!! You couldn’t have worded it any better than that, David.

    And if he is to accomplish this very ambitious goal, he must [surely] be aware of his surroundings or at the very least know his target audience. And to show up poorly briefed at a major event, like he did at the Palais des Congrès de Montréal yesterday evening, is unacceptable to say the least. And that is something that shouldn’t change [for him] whether it be in Ottawa, Montreal, Singapore, Berlin or Navi Mumbai.

    You know I’m a strong advocate for ED, but even I recognize when it is time to shut that message down at certain events. He had a chance to gain the respect of a national audience by showing them he has knowledge of this country, and IMHO, he failed on all accounts.

    From now on, he should just default to McKenna and his speech writers.

    Moreover, it is a pretty bad sign when you’re already starting to waffle on the timeline for self-sufficiency. From what I remember, he didn’t say by the end of 2026 or the start of 2027. After watching him capitulate like that in front of a partisan crowd tells me that he hasn’t even discussed this in concrete terms since his election victory. It’s time to get to work Mr. Graham.

    My Score for Shawn: C- (room for improvement)