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A year of tough decisions

September 18th, 2007

The T&T’s front page this morning is an article discussing the Premier’s first year in office. The Premier talks about the tough decisions made during the first year.

Premier Shawn Graham isn’t making any apologies for the tough — and sometimes unpopular — decisions his government made during its first year in office.

Without spending the past year laying the groundwork — and making those difficult decisions — New Brunswick wouldn’t be able to move forward with its plan to reduce economic dependency on Ottawa, said Graham.

The article doesn’t tell us much of what those ‘difficult’ decisions were, however. The post secondary commission report is mentioned but – unless I missed a memo – there have been no decisions taken, yet.

Apparently, NB Power’s rate hike was a ‘difficult’ decision? Huh? What does the government have to do with that?

The ‘across-the-board’ tax hikes – which amount to, if I recall correctly, about $30 bucks per person per year – were cited as a ‘difficult’ decision.

He also faced criticism for earmarking $60 million for the financially-troubled Caisse Populaire de Shippagan and for legislation banning youngsters from driving off-road vehicles.

Oh, wow. Deeply ‘difficult’ decisions there. Earth shattering.

At some point, our politicians got soft. Really doughy. At one point in our not to distant past, ‘difficult’ decisions meant cutting hospitals, amalgamating communities, slashing thousands of civil servant jobs. At one point, ‘difficult’ decisions meant needing to cut hundreds of millions out of the budget.

Now banning 8 year olds from driving off-road vehicles is a ‘tough’ decision.

Sheesh.

Let me tell you what would have been ‘difficult’ decisions, IMO:

1. Finding $200 million more a year for economic development

2. Actually cutting the # of universities (see my previous blog)*

3. Bringing in 6-7 top managers from around Canada and beyond to help reshape government – like was mentioned during the election (instead of using the exact same people that were in the system before)

4. Committing to hard job creation and immigrant/migrant attraction targets and making serious decisions needed to get us on the right path.

The first year hasn’t been that spectacular. It has been about keeping people happy, mostly. Calling a decision tough doesn’t make it so.

One thing is for sure. If we are to even start down the road towards self-sufficiency (remember we got a whole new pile of Equalization dollars this year), there will be tough decisions needed.

But on a scale far greater than we have seen so far.

*I don’t know if this is necessary but it would certainly qualify as a tough decision.

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