The ghost of Bricklin and the death of ambition

There has been a lot written over the years about the Bricklin.  When I started working at the econ. dev. department in the early 1990s there were still a number of employees that had worked on or were there during the Bricklin saga.

The thing was actually fairly simple.  The Premier at the time saw Ontario and Quebec benefiting hugely from the rise of the auto, aerospace, pharma, movie, etc. sectors in those provinces (more so Ontario) and wanted New Brunswick to get some of that opportunity for itself.  There is another theory, put to me by a consultant on the Pratt Whitney project that went to Nova Scotia, that Hatfield was a pacifist and didn’t want anything to do with all the defence companies that were expanding in Canada.  He argues that is why Nova Scotia attracted Litton, Pratt and others during the time of Hatfield.  I am not sure about that latter theory.

I believe, however, that the Bricklin affair left a shadow over economic development in New Brunswick.   While I don’t have any firm research, I think it did kind of kill or reduce our capacity to dream big here.  The call centre industry broke that a bit but old habits die hard.

I like Peter Lindfield’s take on this.  There are lessons to be learned from Bricklin.  Learn them and move on.

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One Response to The ghost of Bricklin and the death of ambition

  1. One of the lingering problems associated with the Bricklin failure is that it created mental barriers around our imagination and ambition. In New Brunswick, we can be too focused on what we can’t do and what won’t work rather than what may be possible in the hands of persistent, skilled and talented entrepreneurs. My examples of Chapman, Buell and Britten are useful ones in part because, in their own home environments, they were virtually alone in believing they could be successful. That they persevered and did succeed is testimony to their vision and drive.

    We have these talented individuals in New Brunswick. Moreover, we have always had them. Part of the challenge of economic development is associated with providing them with not only the physical but the social infrastructure that will support that drive.

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