I guy came up to me today at church and told me one of the things he liked about my TJ column was the interesting data and trends that I use to help me make my points. He made the offhanded comment that he rarely sees this kind of data used in public debates about the future of New Brunswick.
I have said this before but it is worth repeating. We need to have a formal organization or think tank that is pumping out good quality, comparative statistics and insight that can be used to shape the public policy framework in the province and build broader awareness of the extent of the challenges among the populace.
I know I am beating a dead horse here but it is a new government and there seems to be increasing interest among business leaders to tackle the issues – now they need an organization – preferably outside government weighing in on the main issues of the day with expert opinion and insight in a sustained and systematic way.
I go back to the Centre for Competitiveness and Prosperity in Ontario. I am almost sure that organization has influenced governments – in Ontario and the federal government – with its almost relentless light shed on a fundamental issue for the economic progress of that province and the country.
Some say New Brunswick is too small for such a think tank and we need to rely on AIMS and APEC as well as the occassional work coming out of national ogranizations.
I disagree. I would love to see a group churning out publications on a monthly basis, commenting on policy proposals, aggregating research from other sources, blogging on topics of interest, hosting events designed to raise awareness among the public, etc.
It’s one thing for a columnist to write a few points in a column. I think there are a few columnists tackling important issues. But that’s not the same thing.
The time has come to invest in thinking – in a big way – about New Brunswick and its future.