It’s a bit creepy but I had two people stop me on the street here in Moncton and ask me if Dion is going to be good for economic development in New Brunswick.
After getting over the shock of being recognized by that teeny photo on the blog, I tell them a couple of things:
1. Not to be too Bogartish about it but the problems of 700k New Brunswickers don’t mean a hill of beans to the folks in Ottawa. Dion wants to tackle climate change, social justice, innovation. Heady stuff to be sure. New Brunswick, with a shrinking population only slightly larger than Calgary (and that gap will close within 7-10 years), is more of an annoyance than anything else. The truth of the matter is that the problems in New Brunswick are really important – but only to New Brunswickers. For the rest of Canada, they can’t figure out what the whining is about. “We send you all that Equalization for crying out loud”.
But for me, economic development in New Brunswick – specifically in New Brunswick – is more important than climate change, social justice or innovation. If you don’t have sustainable communities (in the economic sense), the rest is just semantics.
So where is the intersection between national priorities and New Brunswick priorities? It’s a weak link at best. At the end of the day, change will have to come from here and hopefully it will get the support of the Feds but the days of waiting for a Prime Minister to swoop down and impose economic development are over – and if they aren’t in your mind – you are living in the 1970s and haven’t emerged yet.
2. And if I haven’t lost them at Bogart, I say Dion is not the PM yet – and may never be so if anyone is interested in the Federal posture towards economic development in Atl. Canada, they should look up Tory in the phone book. Yes, I know that some of you are still getting used to the idea (in fact, a lot of Tories are still getting used to the idea) of a Conservative national government. But it’s there and it may not be going anywhere soon. So provincial politicians should get out their pencils, come up with a plan and ask nicely for Mr. Scary to join the fun.