I had an interesting chat this morning over breakfast with a young leader in Northern NB with a real passion to change things up there. I wish her well.
I raised in our conversation this issue of leadership and responsibility. In the 1950s, Northern NB was growing at a healthy rate (slightly faster than southern NB in terms of population). New industries were starting up, the economy was moving forward. I am not saying it was nirvana in Northern NB. There were wage issues and poverty issues and infrastructure issues – many of which are much improved today. But the overall economy then was growing, population was growing and things were moving in the right direction.
Today? I think most would agree that things are moving in the wrong direction. The population has been declining for 20 years – the youth population has been plummeting. All of a sudden people talk about the North in the past tense as if decline is inevitable. Was it inevitable in 1950?
My point is who takes responsibility for the economic trouble in Northern NB? No one, that’s who. Not mayors, not MLAs, not MPs, not business leaders, not community leaders, no one.
Of course there was not one single person or group that led to the decline but this did happen on the watch of specific leaders and I think it would be valuable to have a serious discussion about this. Maybe we can start to scrap away at the root causes and then start talking about the future.
There were a lot of national and international firms investing in the north in the 1950s and 1960s. That might be a place to start.