Odds, oddities, ends and possible beginnings?

A few things of interest (to me at least) this am.

First, as widely anticipated, the NB Liberals concluded their external audit of the books and have uncovered a whopping deficit left by the Tories. I blogged on this before and remain skeptical. I haven’t read the document but it sounds like deja vu all over again (in the words of Yogi Berra). Grant Thornton, audit, big deficit – flash back to 1999 and you get the same story. Interestingly, the Tories balanced the books that year anyway without any major cuts and something tells me the Libs will do the same. Should I be mad they cut my PST cut on electricity (would have saved me $30/month)? You tell me.

I heard Mayor Mitten on As It Happens last night. Apparently, someone has been scamming using his name. They call a business in Moncton, say they are the Mayor and ask for $600 because a family member has died and they need to get to Vancouver. If you were cynical, you would say that this is because the mayor is not widely known in Moncton. I have a different view. I think that it’s because the mayor is well liked and considered to be a man of great integrity (you wouldn’t give $600 to some politicians – don’t deny it). They are scamming on his good reputation. Look on the bright side, Mr. Mayor, the last time a Monctonian was on As It Happens, we were being called the ‘armpit of the Maritimes’.

Possible beginnings?
I got a call from CRA last night. One of those surveys about how I perceive things to be. Some interesting stuff. A few highlights:

She asked me a question about what I thought the government’s priorities should be. Crime, social justice, environment, health, etc. She didn’t even mention the economy. Weird, huh? Then she asked me what should MP Brian Murphy’s priorities be in 2007. I said ‘economy’ and she asked me to repeat my response. ‘Economy’, I said. I took it from her reaction that she isn’t getting that response too often in Moncton. If so, that’s too bad. If our government and community leaders drop the ball on the economy, we’ll be right back to the early 1980s once again with boarded up buildings and garbage blowing through the downtown.

She asked a bunch of questions about the hypothetical upcoming federal election and my intentions. This was interesting. She said the names of a number of potential Tory candidates and asked me who I would vote for – Brian Murphy or that candidate. I won’t get into names here because at least three of them are known to frequent this blog (ahem) and would not want their names taken in vain but those three all would be very interesting candidates and at least one would give Smilin’ Brian (a guy I happen to like alot) a run for his money. I will say that they guy Alec Bruce calls “the ex used car salesman turned lawyer turned Premier” was on that list. I suspect, just a suspicion, that he couldn’t beat Brian Murphy unless there was a national ground swell in favour of Harper (or if all that Dion snootiness against Monctonians started to actually sink in).

There was an inordinate number of questions about racinos, entertainment centres, etc. I know people are divided on the issue of ballot initiatives but in this case, why not just ask the people? You are always going to get people for and against gambling. Just ask.

This might not classify as ‘odd’ to you but everytime I hear someone say that the auto sector in Ontario is ‘good for’ Atlantic Canada, I just shake my head. It, in fact, is good in the sense that it raises national wealth and allows for the transfer payments to Atl. Canada to be increased and for the Premier of Ontario to complain that Ontario is not getting its fair share. But, in my opinion, you can stuff that argument in the latrine where it came from. If the government wants to support some form of economic justice (if that’s a term) in Atlantic Canada it will get serious about supporting economic development here – not spending billions to prop up industry in Ontario and Alberta in the hopes that there will be more Equalization down the road for this region. That’s a weird form of ‘trickle down’ or ‘trickle east’ or whatever.

But there are two other points to be made about this article:

1. Behind every successful economic development initiative, there is a prime mover or prime movers and these guys/gals are not usually top level politicians. Take the financial services sector strategy in Nova Scotia, the aquaculture and call centre industries in New Brunswick, the new media industry in BC, the auto sector in Ontario and the aerospace sector in Quebec. You will always find a mid level or high level civil servant has a great idea and ends up selling the politicians on this idea. It is rarely the other way around. Note to Graham – find those ideas guys and let them go to work. Lord didn’t and look what it got us.

2. A quote from the article: [Interviewer] It’s competitive with subsidies and incentives. The southern states in the United States, not so much in Michigan, have been drawing the Japanese manufacturers there with cash.

Lumley [guy who helped grow the auto sector]: Well, they can also use moral suasion a lot easier than we can because their market’s so big.

This Ontario government is the first government since Bill Davis to really realize the importance of the auto industry. And Ottawa did a great job too.

But who likes to give subsidies? Nobody. But if you’re competing against subsidies, I think we have a responsibility to do what the others do.

I don’t like it, but it’s like aerospace in Quebec. The sad part is other countries subsidize aerospace. If you think that aerospace is important, then you’ve got to be there.

But I think the Japanese investment in Canada is fantastic. They are very welcome players.

It’s a bit too bad that they don’t use that logic in Atlantic Canada.

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0 Responses to Odds, oddities, ends and possible beginnings?

  1. Anonymous says:

    First, bullshit. You think auto jobs go to ontario because of the impetus of mid level managers? Paul Martin as Prime Minister went to Toyota hisself. Ontario is what keeps the liberals in power. People like to say ‘sponsorship scandal’ because people are idiots, everybody knew as much about the sponsorship scandal at the first minority election as at the second. What killed Harper the first time was his statement while campaigning in Ontario that he was going to get rid of corporate welfare. Oops, notice how that never made it second time around.

    When one in six jobs in ontario ar in this sector its like Irving in New Brunswick-what they want, they get. You have to also remember that there are classes in canada too, auto jobs are for the semi skilled labourer. They work on assembly lines, they lose their jobs and what do you do with them?

    Second, thats a great post for showing exactly how pollsters manipulate people. Why do you think so many people end up picking crime as their big conserns. What is truly scary is how people will actually pay attention to that propaganda.

    Third, most people couldn’t even tell you what a ‘ballot initiative’ IS, let alone whether they support it. New Brunswickers have simply never heard of them. Poll after poll shows that canadians want MORE decision making power. Online you don’t hear much about it, because most political bloggers are one step below the press in their interest in the status quo. In any third world country if a leader was elected who didn’t recieve the majority of votes people would be rioting in the streets and clamouring for political change. Here, the response is “well, thats the system, whattya gonna do”. If you want a sample of Harpers ‘culture of defeat’ look no further.

    But its different for the man in the street who doesn’t pay any attention to politics for good reason. In a province where the two party’s ran virtually an identical plan, (with one throwing in some stuff they’d recant later), it’s no surprise that interest was at an all time low, and 35% of people didn’t bother voting at all-again, with damn good reason. When you’ve got a race that’s fixed, you can’t be surprised when people refuse to play.

    But ballot initiatives are different, and all the evidence shows that canadians wholeheartedly support them, where the obvious scepticism comes in, is the unpleasantness because the only people allowed to run them is the very government people distrust. The VLT referendum was perfect evidence of that. But if you actually have a government that is truly interested in doing what the population wants, then the story is different, again, just go look at Switzerland where poll after poll shows that the thing most swiss are proud of is their political system. In fact, the main push to the referendum three years ago where they finally joined the United Nations was simply because they felt they had a responsibility to show just how much democracy is possible.

    You’ll notice that they’ve stopped publishing or doing those polls where they ask canadians that question, because it used to be healthcare, but not anymore, then was the educational system, but not anymore, then was our peacekeeping force, but not anymore. Any guesses on what’s left? Hockey?

  2. nbpolitico says:

    I think the comparison between 1999 and 2006 financial reviews is missing a key difference.

    The reason why the review in 1999 changed the books from black to red is because the moved the cost of the Fredericton-Moncton highway from off the books (as it was held by MRDC who were to collect tolls for 30 years for payment before it was to be handed over to the province). Everyone knew this was the case, but the difference was that the accounting firm said that it was still considered a provincial liability even though the province was not directly making the payments to offset the debt.

    It was a difference of opinion on how to account for something that everyone knew about.

    In 2006, it wasn’t a matter of accounting, it was a matter of things not being on the books, and effects policy changes not being accurately reflected in estimates and budgets.

  3. Paulin says:

    ANON – I think Campbell talk about the new initiative like aerospace and call centers in the country not the old industries like lumber and car manufacturing. Politician are not original and too much preoccupied with stupid think people want, they need some mid-level guy to push the idea and make all the work.

    Pharmaceutical company in the Province will be great. UdeM produce at least 30 Biochemist per year but they all go to other provinces to find works. Also we have a great college system that could produce pheurmaceutical laboratory technician. We just need someone to make all the connection.

    It would be great to have those pills factory in Belledune with the sea port. But, we will need R&D and better infrastructure like gas and better road.

    We can produce any high-tech stuff in the province. We just need the connection and the money.

    Stop saving old paper mills like smurfit-stone and put you effort in new endavor. But Baby-boomers have always everything they want (senior care) and they do not like the future so they do not try very much.