I see that New Brunswick is not sending a single athelete to the Vancouver Olympics. I think there are parallels here to my thinking on economic development strategies – small provinces need to focus. We can be mediocre at a wide variety of things or very good at a few things.
I think this is a metaphor for the broader challenges in New Brunswick. In a wide variety of areas, we have never been able to concentrate funding and effort – not regionally, not sectorally, not infrastructurally, not with R&D, not with education, etc.
If you strive for mediocrity you get mediocrity. No one is miserable. No one is thrilled. The picture province.
I think that if there was a coherent, focused strategy you could bring the wider public along. For example, one of the main reasons why there is no appetite to provide some form of tax free zones in Northern NB is that southern NB would react negatively. We see this demarcation across a wide range of potentially beneficial areas. But the province could have a substantative health research effort that would be more beneficial to a place like Saint John and at the same time have an industrial tax free zone in Belledune that would be more beneficial to that Northern port. It’s a kind of quid pro quo.
But back to sport – and culture – in general.
I haven’t spent too much time on this blog discussing this topic mainly because I haven’t studied it that much – with the exception of the Richard Florida creativity dribbling into culture phenomenon.
But I think there is something to a province focusing its resources in this area. I think we need to have heros – sport, music, writers, etc. that identify specifically with New Brunswick. I am not sure you can engineer this but there must be policy levers that could be used to create an environment where this stuff bubbles up.
I can say from observation that people do not seem to be as attached to New Brunswick as they are to Newfoundland or PEI or even Nova Scotia. I welcome discussion on this but there is almost a “once a Newfoundlander always a Newfoundlander” mentality whereas many of the New Brunswickers that left this place easily integrated into their new home.
What do ex-New Brunswickers miss about this place? Are there specific foods? Music? Landscapes? What is it about New Brunswick that would make people miss it if/when they leave? Do we have heros?
A little rambly this morning but I think that I need a better understanding of this link between culture – broadly defined – and economic development in the long term. Do we need to try and engineer more Anne Murrays and Rita MacNeils?
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