They will want to admire and imitate

I received a newspaper sized brochure in the mail today from Health Minister Mike Murphy on the Provincial Health Plan 2008 -2012. Murphy has been known to be a reader of this blog (at least while in Opposition) but I have to say that I am not sure why we have to serve up such over the top language. In the introduction to this report, it states “….tranformation of health care in New Brunswick into a system that the rest of the country will admire and want to imitate.”.

This is the same as the “worst to first” in education, or the post-secondary system that will be the envy of the rest of North America, etc.

I think most New Brunswickers would be very happy with average. Just plain average. We have among the worst health care in Canada. Getting us to average would be a huge goal. We have the worst test scores in standardized testing in Canada. Getting us to average would be a huge goal. Our post-secondary system has hardly been touched in 40 years. Just some basic reforms would be a huge goal. Economic self-sufficiency? I’d take limiting our need for Equalization over the next few years.

Does anything – including the Minister – think that in 2012 (at the end of this plan), other Health Ministers are going to ‘imitate’ New Brunswick?

If you shoot for the stars and reach the moon, that’s failure. If you shoot for the moon and hit it, that’s success.

Right now, I’m just looking for a government that will get off the ground at all.

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0 Responses to They will want to admire and imitate

  1. nbt says:

    I have to agree with you on your assessment that “If you shoot for the stars and reach the moon, that’s failure.”

    All members of Graham’s government (including cabinet ministers) should be required to read My Life by Bill Clinton, especially the chapter where he explains his time in state office (Governor of Arkansas) where many of his challenges (declining industries, outmigration, high illiteracy rates, a poor educational system, high unemployment, etc.) were similar to those that exist in New Brunswick. His motto was 7th or 6th is way better then last (especially if last is where you came from).

    Let’s just say that, in the end, he was able to improve the state of affairs drastically in Arkansas by taking this modest (but realistic) approach. An approach that put Arkansas in the POSITION to possibly shoot for the stars instead of just talking about it.

  2. Anonymous says:

    TO Murphy’s Credit, he has started a Web Registry (Similar to Gun Registry Boondoggle) with a Multi-Million dollar award to some IT company. I am sure with contract in hand, the folks will start hunting for programmers/staff from the few successful independent IT companies and create short term wage inflation. In the long run, the province will have nothing and the few companies which thrive through export would have to cope with one more burden. With Bernard Lord, you had a government which didn’t act. With Shawn Graham, you have government willing to act idiotic. What are we, in N.B., purely unlucky or just poor voters?

  3. David Campbell says:

    Since McKenna, there seems to have been some thinking that we need to pump up the verbage as if that in itself is an outcome. Nope.

  4. mikel says:

    That’s not quite it. The fact of the matter is the vast majority of people are apathetic or ‘apolitical’. They may vote, but do that out of a sense of duty, and of course NB is worse than most places with only two governments, and you can read through David’s blog back over the years and you’ll hardly be able to tell that it’s a different government (so again, you can’t blame voters).

    The important thing to do in a situation like that is ensure that people don’t know there’s a problem. That’s tricky business, but the government does their part with these ridiculous commments, and Irving does their part just by ignoring all the issues.

    You can call it propaganda, since that’s what it is, but every government knows it has to SOUND like its making big huge life saving decisions in order to be re-elected. Say what you want “we’re shooting for average” doesn’t have the same sound to it. Plus, it serves another agenda, if they make changes more ‘radical’ then it’s true-other places WILL want to copy it,not the people of course, but the politicians.

    I’m not sure about the ‘worst health care’ though, I’d like to see more information on that. Health care is a HUGE issue that has thousands of variables. About a year ago I remember checking and noted that NB has more of those scanning machines per capita than any other province (may need one soon, the name of them escapes me).

    Also, more importantly, even if true, how often have you heard media SAY that NB’s in the worst. In other words, by saying it will be the best, people will ASSUME it to be at least average, which it may be, at least in some areas.

    Finally, it helps defray criticism. IF protestors hit the legislature then the couch potatoes may well think ‘why would anybody protest against making a great health care system?’ Studies have shown that governments often get MORE support the more protest they see (although its pretty sparse).

    But I like the comment about ‘last party wouldn’t act, this one will act stupid’, that’s pretty funny. Although of course not quite true. I haven’t checked lately, but as part of the federal deal, for awhile Lord had all the wait times posted on the internet, then after a couple of months (maybe the cheque cleared) it disappeared. It could do that because the media, in fact nobody, ever made a fuss about it, although its still creepy. They may have since put it back up, or maybe they just moved it around, I don’t know.

  5. nbt says:

    anon 10:39 PM said: What are we, in N.B., purely unlucky or just poor voters?

    We’re neither. Actually we’re good voters, it’s just the choices are slim since most of the educated leaders have left the province (so therefore they aren’t on the ballot).

    I have nothing against the crop in Fredericton, they are doing their level best. It’s just that some who offer their name forward and win are not MLA, or even, municipal material. But unfortunately, we have to make due with what we have.

    Although, for the representatives we have, it’s like fighting a battle with one hand tied behind your back.

  6. mikel says:

    There is no such thing as a ‘good voter’. A good voter is essentially somebody who votes. It also doesn’t directly have to do with the representatives, you don’t need ‘intelligence’ to be a representative, all you have to do is actually be a representative.

    In short, it is the political SYSTEM which is the problem. Those who don’t get the policies THEY like usually say its because the wrong people are elected, the ‘right’ people are those who agree with them.

    But of course every group and each person will have a different view of what that should be. David talks about whether NB Power energy policy should be used as a subsidy like Manitoba’s to encourage cheap power as a vehicle of economic development. Others may see it better as a private company and making money. It doesn’t take huge brains to understand that decision, what it DOES take is some way for the public to have its decision enacted.

    Currently, that doesn’t exist, and the system, for a variety of reasons, has been so concentrated that as another poster commented, there is only a choice between dumb and dumber. But there are LOTS of people who understand these issues and can explaine them. There are dozens of experts who know all about this stuff, but they are never utilized and IRving has its own media agenda.

  7. richard says:

    “The important thing to do in a situation like that is ensure that people don’t know there’s a problem. “

    Well, then they (govt and Irving) have failed miserably; plenty in NB recognize that there is a problem. The problem in solving the ‘problem’ is that there is no consensus on what to do to resolve it.

    The short term ‘solution’ is to proceed with the announce energy developments. A smart government would use those as a lever to establish non-Irving industries. I think if we had more employment alternatives in NB, we would see more willingness to take on some of the bullies (like the Irvings). One of the best ways to fight a bully is to get your own bully.

  8. mikel says:

    That sort of makes sense, but again, it assumes that different corporations will ‘compete’ with one another, and that’s not true. I mentioned something similar to that somewhere else, that had New Brunswick had referenda like Maine, the people could have forced the government to look at other companies that wanted to set up LNG terminals, like the Quoddy Bay one, then that would have essentially started a ‘bidding war’ by the various corporations to see who could set up a terminal-or even establish whether people WANTED one, which is a basic democratic principle.

    The assumption above is that government representatives are ‘victims’ of this bully and would love to find a way to combat ‘him’, but that’s not a given. A good many politicians leave office to go sit on the very boards that they favoured, like McKenna and UPS, or else go work directly for them.

    As anybody from Kent county knows, the Grahams have worked for the Irvings for a LONG time, and if you look at both Lord and Grahams talk about St. John, its certainly in NO way hostile to irving interests, they welcome them heartily.

    THe PEOPLE are a different issue altogether but don’t largely fit into the political mix. They have ‘sort of’ failed miserably into making people think there is ‘no problem’ but not really. Blogs, especially political blogs, are a tiny fraction of the population, not even a representative sample. People may be aware that ‘things aren’t great’ or that they are working too hard or things like that, but that’s different from knowing there’s a problem.

    I even asked several friends in NB to name the biggest problems, and NONE said ‘outmigration’. None even thought of it as a problem, and when I mentioned that it was ‘too bad’ that a guy who used to work the NB forests now flies out to Alberta to work six months of the year, none really thought it was an issue-after all, he had a job.

    In politics, everything is relative, some homeless guy in Fredericton isn’t going to think outmigration or equalization is a problem. And they aren’t likely to think that a new oil refinery is going to impact their lives much.