Happy to be debating my fellow economic development thinker Yves Bourgeois at the Let’s Debate NB dialogue put on by 21 Inc. next week.
I suspect that we will not have diametrically opposed views on most of the issues we will be debating in a kind of rapid fire format- urban vs. rural; immigration; big companies vs. local entrepreneurship; energy; environment; and youth migration – but we will likely disagree on scope and focus.
You won’t hear anything groundbreaking from me. I’ll be talking about how the success of local entrepreneurship is tied to large businesses in a community and province. Without some of the larger, anchor firms, local entrepreneurship will struggle. While I don’t know what Yves will be saying on urban vs. rural, I suspect as head of an urban institute where is focus will be. My view on this is evolving somewhat as you have read on these pages.
Like the 100 mile diet and other moves to localize in a global economy – I have the same view of energy. I think it would be a shame to import natural gas from as far away as Pennsylvania or Alberta if we have a local supply right here.
On the environment I think we have to be able to walk and chew gum at the same time. We could just turn NB into a big national park – and some would argue that might be our destiny in 50 years or so anyway – but we have to find a way to sustainably develop natural resources and build highly livable urban environments. We can learn from mistakes elsewhere and have a stable economic foundation that allows us to pursue community and social goals.
Youth migration? I dislike efforts to force, guilt or cajole young people to stay in Atlantic Canada. Some of the brightest folks I know that live here also spent some time outside this region. The key point is we need to be importing as many if not more than we exporting. I will say, however; I do think that young leaders in this region should feel some sense of responsibility and gratefulness to the communities where they were raised. It’s not enough to get the heck outta here and then come back in 40 years and scold those that stayed behind for not doing more. If New Brunswick is to survive and thrive, it will be in large part because at least some of our young leaders decided enough is enough and made a big difference in their local communities.
I hope you can join us.