Brian Dick – Post numero uno

I have never actually met Brian Dick, former VP at ACOA and new-guy-with-the-impossible-mandate as head of the self sufficiency process. Most people that know him that I have some contact with think highly of him. A guy, apparently, that likes to get things done.

So, I can’t really comment on his appointment directly. But I will say that the approach of bringing ‘self-sufficiency’ outside of a specific department and setting it up in this way makes sense. After 16 years of working inside and outside of government, it is almost impossible to get government departments working together on the same page. Either there are personality conflicts or perceived mandate conflicts or lack of resources complaints.

But the truth is there must be alignment (as I have said many times before). If you want to support the growth of a specific industry in New Brunswick, there are implications for just about every department of government. Sure, BNB can go out and ‘sell’ New Brunswick but the ‘product’ they are selling is created by every other department except them.

So Brian Dick needs to be the catalyst to bring alignment.

Good luck.

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0 Responses to Brian Dick – Post numero uno

  1. Anonymous says:

    Welcome back. Missed your blog.

    Mr. Dick has a tough task ahead partially because of the coordination of resource issues you identified and because the task itself is challenging. However, he has the maturity and experience to be successful. Indications are he is well supported and respected and will receive the support and cooperation that will be needed.

    Where there may be some difficulty is with the general public; while economic developers, politicians and the minority of citizens who care about these issues recognize that change is needed, indications are that the general public thinks the status quo is just fine.

    Recent events provided glimpses of our future (e.g. Coles Island school closure) and have provoked passionate responses; for a truly effective mission for self sufficiency, such passion needs to be generated and the resulting energy quickly converted into proactive action to make a positive difference for the future of the province. At the moment, too few people are committed to the cause.

  2. mikel says:

    It depends what the cause IS and how it is to be achieved. I thought the Coles Island issue was quite interesting, because I seem to remember reading an article a year or two ago about the school and being very impressed and thinking ‘why can’t every school be like this’.

    For those who think that future progress is measured in the closure of rural schools, keep in mind that began under McKenna and it certainly hasn’t led to any positive conclusions either within the educational system or in the economic one.

    Vermont is more rural than NB, it chose to increase spending in the rural areas to bring them up to the average, now Vermont is very high in state rankings on educational achievement. Somebody can check, but I’m pretty sure I remember reading that students who have to travel further for their education had lower test scores.

    Even if that’s not the case, Vermont shows that ‘centralizing’ all students in large schools is not the only option, and is not even the preferred option.

    So put that thinking to work in the other sectors, because clearly that is where the self sufficiency task force is leading. They want to radically expand all the problems that got NB into trouble in the first place.

    THAT is what people don’t jump on board of. People aren’t stupid. Have a plan that makes sense and people will support it. If you plan on screwing people over, don’t expect them to stand up and cheer, no matter how many ‘experts’ and ‘interests’ say its ‘necessary’.

    Take for example minimum wage. No person with NB’s low minimum wage is going to complain if that is raised.

    However, its not as easy as simply raising it, because many employers will cut back on staff and make people work harder. You have to legislate that as well, unfortunately. In some cases some tiny companies may be at risk, you legislate that as well. In other words, you legislatet it so that workers don’t get screwed over.

    Studies from the states already show that nominal increases in the low wage industry can save money by decreasing turnaround and training costs. If companies can smarten up they can take advantage.

    But who wants to put money that by this time next year the minimum wage will be at the national average? I’ll put fifty bucks on it right now.

    So, bring in the right policies to help people, get their support. Try to screw them over, don’t get their support. It really is that simple.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Exactly my point Mickel. If we rally to start making positive change we still have a chance to take control of our future. If we let things go as they are, it will not be a matter of screwing anybody over, we won’t have any choice where we are headed.

    Reality Check: Population declining. Prosperity gap growing. Tax base shrinking. Traditional industry sectors (forestry and fishing) in trouble. Traditional manufacturing noncompetitive with global economy etc.

    I’m not advocating that all the SSTF recommendations are the right things to be doing. I am advocating that we need to be doing something different from the present. Shooting down every idea put forward in the absence of realistic and effective alternatives is advocating complacency; we need to embrace change and proactively influence our future.

  4. Broadcastnb says:

    That is the problem with the self sufficiency proposals. Virtually none of them show how to gain ‘self sufficiency’. That fact that the group never even bothered to explain what self sufficiency even MEANS shows that they have no interest in trying to do it.

    In fact, for many of the proposals the exact OPPOSITE is more clearly shown to increase self sufficiency.

    Take a look at their forestry plan. The idea they give is to give even more power to the lease holders, the one who are so incompetent they need a massive bailout even while all their competition had huge duties, and screw over the small woodlot owners.

    They even say to ‘buy out’ small woodlot owners. Now, what exactly will those guys do for a living? Call centres?

    However, numerous studies show that they should be EXPANDING the number of small woodlot owners and lessening the power of lease holders.

    Why? Because the other reason is that the lease holders are only interested in bulk commodity shipments or use by their own companies (in the case of Irving).

    You’ve got companies like Wilsons who make hardwood flooring and ship to europe, or else you can grow more softwood to make toilet paper for irvings. Which sounds better? Well,the one that has more opportunities and has more employment.

    As it stands, the province gets very little from its forests from leaseholders. Hell, they’d be better off leasing out small lots of crown land to maple syrop productions, small growers, or eco tourisn.

    And that doesnt even include the costs for management, health care from herbicide spraying, and flash floods once most of the forestry is cut away.

    So the problem is not that self sufficiency is not a laudable goal, it is that these proposals in most cases are the exact opposite of what is needed, or else are meaningless jargon.

    Many people like David will defend it because of course the only alternative is that they wouldn’t mention it at all. Meaning, its better that they address it with bad policies than not address it at all. I don’t agree with that, because I can show just like I did with forestry that many of these suggestions will actually INCREASE dependance.

    And like I said, the ones that would actually benefit workers, though there are hardly any of them, are sure to fall by the wayside, but that all depends on New Brunswickers.