Closer To The Heart

Closer to The Heart

And the men who hold high places
Must be the ones to start
To mould a new reality
Closer to the heart

The blacksmith and the artist
Reflect it in their art
Forge their creativity
Closer to the heart

Philosophers and ploughmen
Each must know his part
To sow a new mentality
Closer to the heart

You can be the captain
I will draw the chart
Sailing into destiny
Closer to the heart

Closer To The Heart by Rush (1977)

I heard this song on the radio yesterday and I thought this would be a great slogan for a political campaign. In an era where the majority of us don’t trust politicians, where marketing/spin dominates, where every word coming out of a politician’s mouth has been vetted and checked against the polls – a politican that could get close to the people and make politics about the betterment of things.

New Brunswick is declining. Across the board. We are more dependant on taxpayer dollars from other provinces than we were ten years ago. We have the first sustained population decline since Confederation. On just about every economic indicator we are well behind the national average and slipping further. And to add insult to injury, PEI and Nova Scotia have beat us in almost every economic category in the last few years.

And the anecdotal stories that I hear reinforce this decline. Most of Northern NB is reeling. Saint John continues to struggle. Fredericton, well, Fredericton is Fredericton. Moncton is doing well by Atlantic Canadian standards (it is still growing far slower than cities in the fast growing regions of Canada).

And the government continues to micromanage and pick away at the issues as if that was bold and aggressive action to tackle the provinces. $8 million over three years on R&D. Wow. One new rural call centre. Wow. We are focused on e-Learning in New Brunswick (the e-Learning industry has collapsed in the past five years). eNB will bring the benefits of the Internet to all New Brunswickers (we have dropped from 7th to last place among the provinces for households connected to the Internet in the past five years).

So with this as the backdrop, I proffer Rush’s intro lyrics:

And the men who hold high places
Must be the ones to start
To mould a new reality
Closer to the heart

Make it personal. Dying communities is personal. Communities dependant on welfare – is personal. Declining industries like the forestry, fishing and mining – this scares people – they worry about the future of their towns.

Stop friggin’ around and give these people some reason to hope (outside the optimism of Moncton and the airheadedness of Fredericton).

Bring it closer to the heart. And the people will vote for you, I guarantee it. People are ready, I think, for a hard dose of reality. If a politican said that Northern New Brunswick was dying. People would agree. Saying that the ‘Prosperity Plan’ is working doesn’t do much for the many areas of this province that are not very ‘prosperous’.

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0 Responses to Closer To The Heart

  1. Anonymous says:

    Three excellent blogs with lots of good info. I’ve always been a big supporter of CBC getting into print media, of course it’ll never happen, but it’s fun to raise the idea and see the anti-CBC crew get bug eyed.

    A lot of the ‘other’ in that pie chart are fees and licenses, notably stumpage fees which aren’t included as corporate ‘income’. Just as another correction, almost from the time of confederation to the second world war saw drops in the province’s population.

    Something else to consider from the pie chart is that just after world war two, the percentage of the ‘pie’ that came from corporate taxes was close to 45%-quite a decrease down to 2.5%. Now, many may argue that ‘globalization’ or ‘competition’ means we HAVE to have it this way, however, there’s two problems with that theory. Next to Alberta New Brunswick has had the lowest corporate income tax in the country for 15 years and how well has that served us? Low corporate tax for a province with tons of money makes sense in Alberta, but we are at the other end of the scale.

    The second fact is that the province with the HIGHEST corporate income tax is….Saskatchewan! This province, with a population the size of New Brunswick’s but with even fewer natural resources is a ‘have’ province, not a have not like New Brunswick. People can try to give quick answers to these anomalies, but even economists can’t explain it (although people’s wallets really envy their public insurance).

    To me the REAL reason for the lowest corporate income tax has two words-Irving, and McCain. Now, the argument could well be made that if we raised it, both companies would flee. Well, Irving has already fled and of course most of their businesses are resource based, so they aren’t going anywhere soon.

    Keep in mind though that Neil Peart was being ironic in his first lines of the song. I much prefer Rush’s “Second Nature”, here’s the last stanza:

    “Today is different, and tomorrow the same
    It’s hard to take the world the way that it came
    Too many rapids keep us sweeping along
    Too many captains keep on steering us wrong
    It’s hard to take the heat
    It’s hard to lay blame
    To fight the fire while we’re feeding the flames”

  2. David Campbell says:

    Listen, I have been exposed to the dark underbelly of this province. I sat in a meeting once where a high ranking government guy said that there are, and I quote “40,000 people in this province that wouldn’t work a full time job no matter what the salary” – refering to the dependancy on EI. I have also heard an assistant deputy minister say that he wouldn’t want his kids to work in a ‘GD call centre’. But I still, after all the cynicism, have a little hope that our politicians could help turn around the economy if the public acted like they cared.

    To anonymous’ points. I have said that NB’s population decline recently is the first ‘sustained’ population decline since Confederation. There have been individual years where the population declined (notably during the 1930s recession) but the population has declined or been stagnant in New Brunswick since 1998.

    The low level of corporate taxes is shocking, I agree with that but it makes the so-called small business tax cuts put forward by the Lord government that much more cynical. They knew they could cut these taxes with only a slight impact on the revenue base and at the same time they could get great marketing value out of it. I doubt that one job has been created but, man, it makes for a heck of a stump speech.

    On the Rush thing, I wasn’t aware of the irony – I thought it was a dope-induced sense of optimism. Serves me right.

  3. vivenewbrunswick says:

    Actually, I have to eat some crow, I checked the stats and it IS the first decline since New Brunswick existed. The decline began in 1996. Here’s the link:

    You’ll also note that 1971 was when the decline in urban residents began, though it fluctuates, while rural inhabitants have stayed fairly constant.

    It’s not a surprise that we always hear about those kinds of stories. Some people of course expect that those on welfare should jump at the chance to shovel horseshit for 6 bucks an hour if given the opportunity. People are people, not all are the same. THere’s a big difference between a job-and a GOOD job. It’s no surprise that a government official would make such a remark. I grew up in Fredericton and government jobs go to who you know, as is true in most places. I’ve noticed that most people like that need to prove to themselves that they deserved having it handed to them, typically that’s done by looking down on everybody else. Such a remark is clearly crazy, just take a look at the number of applicants that good employers get. The Southeast Regional Health Authority, ranked as one of the 100 best employers in Canada, recieves 23000 resume’s a year. Most call centres receive thousands for the few job openings. Of course when pressing a government official about their abyssmal treatment of the poor, it’s a nice ‘out’ to simply claim what deadbeats they are so you can’t help them. This is why we hear non-stop how greedy and lazy such people are.

    As they say, where there’s life, there’s hope. I wouldn’t be wasting my time with these blogs and proportional representation if it was a lost cause. The trouble is we live in a society where Irving calls the shots, and owns the press. It makes it hard to ‘hear the voices’, but read some presentations to government committee’s, there are people who are working their asses off and who know they can’t trust their politician’s as far as they can throw them. There are tons of people trying to make a difference.

  4. David Campbell says:

    Well, we share some kinship on that Vive. Just one more clarification, however. If you look at the year by year population estimates (not the 10 year census data), you will find that the population dipped during the recession in the 1930s.