Thinking about self-sufficiency

We need a better term than “self-sufficiency” for this general idea of a New Brunswick that is growing, attracting people, economically vibrant and that is weened off Equalization.  Essentially, we are talking about a New Brunswick that none of us have seen in our life times – although as I have pointed out before New Brunwick did have a little mini-growth spurt in the mid 1970s.

I had the opportunity to talk with a bunch of interesting folks on Friday in Freddy Beach and I have never felt more strongly that this idea of a better New Brunswick has to be embraced widely across New Brunswick.  As one person pointed out, it is almost a cultural failure.   A collective lack of faith in our own province that has led to this collective shoulder shrug about the state of things.

I always have to add this disclaimer.  Things aren’t that bad in New Brunswick.  It’s more of a slow burn.  A creeping decline that ends up with some population consolidation in Freddy and Moncton but an overall province of population stagnation, chronic out-migration and increasing reliance on federal transfers.

If we took to the bars and pubs and schools and churches and community halls and hockey games would it change things?  If we took the conversation into the public square would it matter?

I have been focused on the idea that you can turbo charge the economy by attracting in a pile of new business investment and that would lead to cultural change (i.e. confidence in New Brunswick) but maybe this is more of a parallel track.  Maybe the more positive we are on the potential of New Brunswick, maybe that starts incrementally changing minds.

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One Response to Thinking about self-sufficiency

  1. richard says:

    Well, maybe.

    Seems to me we have a growing gap between the reality of NB and the reality of certain urban centres in NB. The movers and shakers (or perhaps it would be fairer to say, the persons who could be movers and shakers) live in these urban centres and are fairly well-satisfied as things are. After all, if you are a member of the public service, the para-public sector (i.e. the unis, plus those who provide services to the public sector), or SMEs in these urban areas, things have been pretty rosy for the past few years. The value of their real estate has gone up, earnings are up, yet the cost of living has remained fairly stable, when compared to some other parts of the country. More rapid growth might threaten some of those things. Many of these people have the data, can see the problems in the rest of the province, but how concerned are they? I don’t see any outrage, just a rather mild concern about who is going to look after them when they get old.

    If you can get the chattering class in urban centres to buy in, they will produce the propaganda to pressure the politicians and get the rest of the population to go along. So, the question is: how do you get the self-satisfied less satisfied?

    I really think that what we need is some leadership that really leads; i.e. that goes where others have feared to tread and makes changes required to bring about the kind of sustainable growth you are talking about. Most populations in most regions of the world are fairly accepting of their condition; it takes some leadership or a stroke of luck to change things. Once change starts, people buy in when/if they see the benefits.

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