Iggy learns a lesson

Michael Ignatieff has an op-ed in the NY Times this weekend – picked up by the Globe & Mail. One thing about Iggy, he certainly seems to be better in print than ‘live’. The piece in the NYTimes as about Iraq but I was struck by another point he makes:

Having left an academic post at Harvard in 2005 and returned home to Canada to enter political life, I keep revisiting the Iraq debacle, trying to understand exactly how the judgments I now have to make in the political arena need to improve on the ones I used to offer from the sidelines. I’ve learned that acquiring good judgment in politics starts with knowing when to admit your mistakes.

Knowing when to admit your mistakes.

Now quick. Think about the last time you heard a New Brunswick politician to a mea culpa – I mean on a serious issue like Orimulsion, toll highways, tax increases (property under the old gang and personal/corporate under the new gang), etc.

And, of course, on the biggest issue of all for me, here we are in New Brunswick – one of a very small handful of provinces/states in North America that is shedding population. One of even a smaller groups of provinces/states that is generating less “own source” tax revenue as a percentage of its overall budget today than 8-9 years ago. We’ve gone through the largest sustained economic growth cycle in Canadian history and yet we have to live with that moniker.

And beyond just the provincial politicians, when was the last time the Feds admitted to ‘mistakes’ on their regional development policies (or lack thereof)? I have heard and continue to hear nice, well-intentioned federal politicians talking about all the great things the Libs did for this region in the area of economic development in their 12 year rule. And Canada’s New Government, of course, by their admission has been spectacular in their regional development policy.

Interesting that some of the hottest sectors in the Canadian economy – animation, clean tech, biofuels, aerospace, trade (so-called gateway initiatives), etc. are all being pursued vigorously outside New Brunswick and there are major Federal and Provincial funding programs to help support their growth. Why wouldn’t New Brunswick identify and partner with the Feds on some innovative new growth sectors here?

We are, of course, pursuing nuclear energy. A file I have zero knowledge of. However, I did hear Hillary and Barack both say in their YouTube debate that nuclear is ‘an option’ but it would seem to be ‘too expensive’ and with serious ‘regulatory’ issues to be a top of mind strategy.

However, apparently in New Brunswick it is not too expensive and regulation is not too much of an issue (at least to read the TJ).

Don’t get me wrong. I have nothing against nuclear energy. I just don’t know enough about the file. I still think that we should be more about what we would do in New Brunswick with the energy rather than how fast we can ship it abroad.

However, back to my original point. The first step in any 12 step program is admitting you have a problem (or have done things wrong).

We haven’t done that in New Brunswick. Yes, this is inconsistent with all that stuff coming out of the self-sufficiency commission but I still believe it.

I talked with someone who works closely with Business New Brunswick recently and it is clear that not only does that department think it has been on the wrong track, many up there think that BNB has been doing all the right things. And judging by the fact there has been no major changes in the dept. by the Graham gov (other than cutting its budget), it would seem they agree.

I submit we have been doing things very wrong for a long time. The only reason our population decline has not been worse has been the call centre sector and public sector job creation. Eventually and soon, both these sectors will plateau – one would think.

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0 Responses to Iggy learns a lesson

  1. mikel says:

    Nuclear energy is always an option, which is exactly why people should know more, or something, about it.

    Let’s look at a couple of ‘facts’ I’ve recently come across.

    1. Property rights. The government even admitted what the people of Cambridge Narrows have been saying for months. The government, not you, essentially owns everything under the ground. You have to read a little through the ‘politicalese’ to get that. You’ll notice the minister saying things like ‘if a company comes along we’ll protect you’. They claim that they will set up an arbiter to ‘ensure you get a fair deal’. Does ANYBODY out there, except maybe party members, actually think the government is capable of getting you a better deal with mining firms?

    And keep in mind the assumption is that you WILL need an arbiter. So the option of NOT having mining on your property simply does not exist. It is ‘fair’, so long as you are playing ball.

    2. The price of uranium continues to climb and since there is a shortage of mines and mines have a 20 year turnover, then its always possible that there simply would be NO uranium found (possible, not likely).

    3. CANDU reactors still use heavy water, which most places are moving away from. There is this:

    “China, for example, is building the world’s first commercial Pebble Bed Modular Reactor (PBMR). They use helium instead of water to cool nuclear fuel, eliminating the need to locate PBMRs near large water supplies. Rather than using uranium fuel rods, PBMRs use thousands of ceramic-covered uranium “pebbles” encased in graphite spheres. The containment facilities typical in other reactors are unnecessary because the ceramic casings make a meltdown virtually impossible. The overall cost per unit of energy produced is forecast to be less than half that of earlier reactors.”

    Yet NBPower or the government only ever mentioned dealing with one of two companies.

    Nuclear is by far preferable to Coleson Cove and other dirty sources, provided there is no problem with the radioactive waste, and security is a BIG concern. If the world starts becoming a vast radioactive wasteland from ‘dirty bombs’, we can’t very well say “we never thought of THAT”.

    So for example, in Vermont, where there is an active grassroots and political movement toward closing down their reactor, which supplies most of their power, the website claims “it would take 20 times as much land to get power from solar as from nuclear”.

    They state that as though it were a BAD thing, but a reactor isn’t that big, so 20 times that is actually pretty good.

    But places like Maine and Vermont will be able to breathe easy because they can just buy power from the cheapest market source and sleep easy, because they’ll just be buying it, WE will have to deal with it.

    So notice that nobody in government has even said that more nuclear would mean being able to close belledune, coleson cove and dalhousie, its meant to ADD to it, so there can be more to sell. That once again brings us back to your often stated claim about how energy COULD be used to make New Brunswick a cheap place to do business and power those data farms or whatever you call them.

    But THAT is not an option. That’s a pretty big deal so it seems presumptuous to talk about the pros and cons of nuclear before addressing that. Why, exactly, should New Brunswickers be paying to build up power for the US when the US will abandon the area whenever it finds a cheaper source. And just look at the research, we KNOW cheap sources are coming, its just a question of when.

  2. Kit says:

    MikeL
    I think you wanted your comment on the previous thread – Friday, August 03, 2007 – “Vindication, sort of”

    I would have made more sense there…. but I could be wrong.

    Did Iggy actually learn a lesson? or his he just being expedient?