Alec Bruce is one of my favourite NB writers on public policy issues. He has been skewering politicians and bad ideas for over 20 years – part Fotheringham – part Wells – all relevant to our public debate.
But in his latest screed, he says:
Still, for now, stop talking about strategy. New Brunswickers have 30 days to make up their minds (if they haven’t already) about whom they’ll tolerate in elected office. The youthful and grizzled, alike, want to know what, precisely, are the tactics involved in the job creation juggernauts of this and, indeed, all political parties in this province.
This comes one day after I wrote this in the TJ:
But this election calls for more of a focus on the big picture. The question you should be asking the candidates as they come to your door should be: where do you want to take this province?
Who is right? The estimable Alec Bruce or the upstart challenger Campbell? Strategy or tactics?
I’m convinced that in the 2014 election, we need to have leaders emerge that understand the serious strategic problems of a stagnant economy, a rapidly declining population under the age of 55 (down 15% in 20 years) and a province that is the second oldest in the country. Instead of collectively looking forward to a bright and growing future we seem to be hunkering down and waiting to spend five months a year in Florida.
If the prospective Premiers – Alward, Gallant or the wanna-be-king maker Cardy – don’t have a clear strategic understanding of these underlying challenges, we will get another round of tactics – think Benard Lord’s 200 days of change and the promise to put more pencils in NB classrooms – while ignoring the iceberg we have been grounded on for the last decade.
I understand Bruce’s frustration. He wants clear and decipherable plans for job creation. But if they don’t get the strategic realities right, we’ll be back here in four years still arguing the same things.