The great NDP experiment

Nova Scotia has an NDP Premier with a majority government.  Politically it represents a major breakthrough in Atlantic Canada. 

I’ll be very interested to see how the NDP tackles economic development in Nova Scotia.  The political temptation (or at least political history in the region) has been to talk up economic development and then spend 99% of the government’s effort on other issues.  The old political stand bys of pouring hundreds of millions more into health care, building more roads and increasing goverment spending well beyond the rate of economic growth are easier than coming up with a serious economic development effort.

It seems to me that if the NDP can be the first government to turn the economic ship around in Nova Scotia in years (i.e. a sustained period of economic and population growth across the province), they will be able to write their own ticket.   I think people are ready for action on the economic development front not more rhetoric.  

Solidifying Halifax as a financial, IT and life sciences centre will be key.  So will finding new economic opportunities for smaller urban and rural Nova Scotia.  Manufacturing, green energy, more value add around the natural resources and smaller technology-based opportunities aligned with Halifax make sense.

I think it’s a good thing.  The Libs and the Conservatives in Nova Scotia have not been able to make any serious economic development breakthroughs.  Employment growth, population growth and other key metrics all looked better in the 1970s than today.  

The PCs were handed that $800 million oil dividend from the feds and put it right to retiring debt. I said at the time that was a mistake.  It was in my opinion a bit like paying down on your mortgage when you can’t afford to make your monthly payments and your kids have to leave the house because you can’t afford to pay to keep them.    But AIMS and others were adamant that Nova Scotia follow the same old track of marginally cutting taxes, reducing debt and crossing fingers.

Nova Scotia has great economic potential.  Halifax can be (and is in many ways) a serious economic engine for the province in the way that Toronto is for Ontario.  But at the same time, I think that more can be done in other parts of the province. 

I’ll be watching.

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17 Responses to The great NDP experiment

  1. Samonymous says:

    Paul Adams on retired seniors (liberal business seniors to be exact): “They are more driven by the Toronto Stock Exchange than unemployment numbers.”

    I know there are not as many stock exchange watchers in New Brunswick as Ontario (although, it may be closer than I think in a per capita arrangement), but his statement does offer up some perspective on those that gaze at unemployment figures on a monthly basis. Is it possible that this does not motivate voters as much as some think?

    It would be interesting to know what really does?

  2. richard says:

    “But AIMS and others were adamant that Nova Scotia follow the same old track of marginally cutting taxes, reducing debt and crossing fingers.”

    A govt in NS that was able to take a really new tack would be a great thing, and might encouragers NBers to take the same route – a real chance to ‘change the conversation’ here. Hopefully, the NDP was not elected simply because it has become bland enough to be acceptable to those who formerly voted for the other parties. But we will see if they can really stand up to AIMS et al.

  3. mikel says:

    I was wondering if this was going to get a mention. I don’t know if “The Current” is a national show, but this morning they spoke to the new Premier of Nova Scotia and ALL he talked about was the ‘leaving home’ issue. That doesn’t mean as much as policy, but its interesting that the NDP there at least are VERY publicly admitting, well, what David is always chastising the NB government for NOT admitting (that its a huge problem).

    I was going to post this on the thread below, but if Nova Scotians are sick of the two party status quo, can you imagine New Brunswickers, who also have a lower emphasis on education, the Irving media monopoly,etc. Perhaps its time for guys here to start thinking “NDP”.

  4. I think the Nova Scotia experiment will have definite impact in New Brunswick. If the NDP are perceived to be good stewards of the public finances and really seem to be tackling the economic challenges, I think the NB NDP will get a huge boost. On the other hand, if they can’t move the ball down the field, it will be the opposite.

  5. This is why politicians in power should not listen to their internal party faithful. From a news story this morning:

    Ian MacKeigan, a longtime PC supporter from Whycocomagh who was the local chair of MacDonald’s bid for the party leadership in 2006 and who ran MacDonald’s local campaign said “I’m not sure why there was such a change or such a need for change when (Nova Scotia) already has prosperity,”

    It takes an interesting mix of circumstances including shoving your head down a hole and leaving it there to say that Nova Scotia or any of the Maritime provinces have ‘prosperity’.

  6. > The old political stand bys of pouring hundreds of millions more into health care, building more roads and increasing goverment spending well beyond the rate of economic growth are easier than coming up with a serious economic development effort.

    Let’s see – the roads are a mess, the hospital is unsafe, and almost *any* spending would be greater than economic growth… what governments have been pursuing this as a strategy? What we have been seeing in the Maritimes is the opposite.

  7. Samonymous says:

    I think the Nova Scotia experiment will have definite impact in New Brunswick. If the NDP are perceived to be good stewards of the public finances and really seem to be tackling the economic challenges, I think the NB NDP will get a huge boost. On the other hand, if they can’t move the ball down the field, it will be the opposite.

    Not sure that matters as much, David. NDP have already proven, in two other provinces, that they can’t be trusted with the public purse. That being said, you can’t discredit the Nova Scotia NDP movement (and organization) which branched out from HRM in an aggressive fashion. Moreover, they were able to recruit top notch people to their organization all across the province (not just in cities). Take note NB NDP.

    Plus, I think it was a good move for Mr. Dexter to hold the party’s convention in Pictou (Antigonish) a few years back. It sent a signal to Nova Scotians that not only would they not be kicked around by the conservatives, it was not just the party of the affluent in coffee shops in Halifax, and that they had their ears to the ground on rural poverty issues, jobs and the hard hit sectors of manufacturing, fishing and agriculture.

    If the NB NDP are ever to become relevant, they need to build a strong, credible organization first…and worry about the little things after.

  8. mikel says:

    That’s ludicrous, the NDP have proven the opposite, that they are FAR better managers than virtually any other party. In Saskatchewan, during the one kick at the can that the conservatives got, the party drove the province into its first debt from a huge surplus, and dozens of party members faced RCMP investigations.

    But parties are different all over, and the NDP is FAR more grassroots than the other two parties, so there are big differences between them. But again, New Brunswick is very much a province of political ‘watchers’, not political ‘involvers’. Even the two main parties had trouble filling nominees for every riding, and the NDP didn’t. I checked about three weeks ago and the party still didn’t even have their website up.

    There were two points of interest, one being the big drop in turnout, but also there was a point made that the NDP had a TON more volunteers, especially young people. So that may well have pushed them over. The leader was saying that volunteers simply kept coming in, and thats how you know a party is gaining momentum. In NB, well, this is a blog ABOUT provincial politics, and I don’t think there has EVER been a political party member here even making a comment. We saw some student groups getting involved in the drivers license issue, we’ll see if the NDP makes any inroads with them.

  9. richard says:

    “NDP have already proven, in two other provinces, that they can’t be trusted with the public purse”

    As have the Cons and the Libs. What’s your point?

  10. Rob says:

    “NDP have already proven, in two other provinces, that they can’t be trusted with the public purse.”

    Isn’t Manitoba the only province not running a deficit right now? And aren’t they led by the NDP?

    Bob Rae trashed the NDP brand for some, but there have been plenty of examples of disastrous Tory and Liberal governments. I’m not going to prejudice my vote because of what happened in another province, by another premier, who ran on a completely different platform. It’s the ultimate apples v oranges.

  11. Samonymous says:

    Rob;

    Agreed. They have done some good things there: better balanced budget legislation, one of the lowest unemployment rates in the last 10 years, decent immigration policies/results. Unfortunately, economic growth has been slow there, spending still remains out-of-control (even with the better balanced budget lewg), outmigration continues to “have” provinces and personal income taxes remain some of the highest in Canada. For instance, a person who made 30,000 (a modest income) in Manitoba paid 5,454 in personal income taxes. I guess someone has to pay for costly (and sometimes worthless) program spending. I just see it as a drag on growth.

  12. Rob says:

    Samonymous: But above you said we shouldn’t vote for the NDP because they’ve ruined two other provinces (which ones, by the way?). Yet, they seem to have done a good job turning Manitoba into a decently run province. If the budget is balanced, and unemployment is at record lows, I think you can call their management of the economy a success.

    You also stated that the NDP “can’t be trusted w/ the public purse”, yet Liberals and Tories are thowing money around like drunken sailors across the entire country. I have a real hard time listening to people bash the NDP because the scary socialists will raise taxes and run massive deficits. I don’t think any political party in Canada today can claim any sort of fiscal bona fides, least of all the two mainstream parties.

  13. Samonymous says:

    Rob;

    you said I said: “we shouldn’t vote for the NDP…” First of all, I didn’t say that, nor was I implying that. My knowledge of the NDP comes not only from my first hand experience living in Ontario during Rae’s time in office (some of it) and my best friends account (two Aussie from New York–who work on Wall Street) who i met through a friend in Vancouver. Their father experiences was a nightmare in BC as regulations and high taxes drove him out of the province in the late 90s…along with a lot of Asian investors.

    Think of him as Irving without the corporate subsidy help. Just how long would they remain in NB if the NDP took power and began to invoke an anti-business agenda along with poor fiscal stewardship? You could probably get away with using a stopwatch. 😉

  14. Rob says:

    “Just how long would they remain in NB if the NDP took power and began to invoke an anti-business agenda along with poor fiscal stewardship?”

    But why do you assume the NDP would have an anti-business agenda w/ poor fiscal stewardship? Ontario and BC are examples of your point, but Saskatchewan and Manitoba prove otherwise. Dexter is a centrist politician, what makes you think he’s anti-business besides the letters NDP after his name?

    Speaking of poor fiscal stewardship, the current government of NB is running a nearly billion dollar deficit. I don’t see Irving heading for the door due to Shawn Graham’s stewardship of the economy.

    I’m not a member of the NDP, nor would I likely vote for them in an election were it to be held tomorrow. However, I think it’s nonsense to paint a political party with the sins of previous incarnations in other provinces. Bernard Lord was not Mike Harris or Ralph Klein. Shawn Graham is not Clyde Wells. Why should we expect the NB NDP to act exactly like Bob Rae did?

  15. Samonymous says:

    I don’t assume anything. I just answered your question buddy.

  16. Rob says:

    “I don’t assume anything. I just answered your question buddy.”

    You said the NDP can’t be trusted with the public purse. You also stated that they have an anti-business outlook. Those are fairly blanket statements about a entire national party and its differing provincial wings.

    They’re pretty big assumptions, given what we’ve seen from the other two parties. The only parties w/ clean hands are the Bloc and the Greens, if we follow your statements to their logical conclusion.

  17. Samonymous says:

    I didn’t say that. That’s what you think, or said, I said.

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