NDP/Tories need to stop complaining and start providing alternatives

Dennis Atchison, former NDP candidate, has a scathing piece in the TJ today entitled “McKenna, McGuire policies failed N.B.”

It it, he lists a few of the McKenna cuts in the 1990s and tries to then say that’s a good reason not to trust Francis McGuire.

A couple of observations:

1. Mr. Atchison never mentions the deep federal funding cuts and the large scale deficits that McKenna faced (some of it may have been of his own doing). What would the NDP have done? Ran up the deficits even higher? Spent recklessly and imperil the province’s credit rating? No, look to Saskatchewan where an NDP government made the deepest cuts of all to the health care system when they were trying to get their deficit under control.

2. There has been nothing but scorn coming out of the NDP and Tories about the Liberal theme of ‘self-sufficiency’. That, in and of itself, is not a bad thing. Based on the Tory record, it is right for opposition parties to be skeptical of wild promises and talk of ‘prosperity’. However, just poo pooing what is a super underlying thesis – making NB self-sufficient is, in my opinion, a serious blunder on the part of the Tories and what’s left of the NDP. New Brunswickers want to be respected again. Young New Brunswickers are tired of being the brunt of snide Equalization remarks when the talk to folks in Ontario or out west. New Brunswickers would like nothing more than to keep its native sons and daughters here and attract back expatriates.

New Brunswickers have not seen a real economic growth spurt (i.e. outpacing the national population growth levels) since Confederation. Just think what that would do to our collective self-esteem. You can only kick people around so long.

So the Tories and the NDP should stop being sarcastic and perpetuating the vision of New Brunswick as the Equalization and EI hub of Canada and start putting forward real solutions of their own. Bold, visionary solutions.

I think these politicians think voters are fundamentally stupid or at least naive. The Tories plowed all new money into health care (by their own admission) and figured that New Brunswickers would embrace that vision. Turning New Brunswick into one big retirement home. The out-migration of young people has never been higher than under the latest Tory government.

Then a party comes along, the Liberals, with what is an admittedly wild proposition – economic self-sufficiency and all the opposition can do is heap scorn on it?

Under Lord, the provincial requirement for Equalization increased by $700 million. While Canada grew at an unprecedented growth rate (economy and population), all we could manage to do was increase our dependency on Equalization.

We need to reverse that trend.

What a lot of people like Yvon Gaudin and Dominic Leblanc don’t understand is that future generations of New Brunswickers aren’t going to want to live on EI. No matter how rich they make the program, I believe less and less folks will want to live that lifestyle. We are already seeing fish plant workers from the coast moving to Greater Moncton to take year round jobs in the manufacturing sector.

Gaudin and Leblanc would be far better off crafting a vision for their region that embeds ‘less EI’ into the economic model instead of demanding more.

More EI is not the solution. More Equalization is not the solution. We have had oodles more of both in the past 8-10 years and where has it gotten us? This only greased the pole that slid our young people out to Alberta.

I would like to see all of our political parties coming up with alternative views on how to move NB forward – seriously forward. Not just sitting back and taking pot shots at the current government who at least are showing some interest.

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0 Responses to NDP/Tories need to stop complaining and start providing alternatives

  1. Anonymous says:

    There’s no point in getting bent out of shape at people who are largely saying the same thing as you. The liberal marketing plan of ‘self sufficiency’ is nothing more than the tories ‘prosperity plan’ or ‘nextnb’. The liberals likewise ridiculed those, but didn’t put a plan of their own out either-even during the election.

    When you live in a depressed economic area it seems a little misguided to represent your constituents by making their lives harder. If you have a base of people who have to collect EI part of the year, why in gods name would you, as a representative-if you want to STAY a representative- talk about ‘cutting back’. Are you actually saying that if those people who work only eight months a year then collect EI will be so much happier if they can hold their head up high and not have any income for four months of the year? That’s easy to say if you aren’t worried about mortgage payments, providing food, and looking after elderly parents, etc.

    Northern and rural NB have been trying to get industry as much as anywhere. If NB practised what it preached with the feds, then Molson would have their brewery in Bathurst, and the concessions made to keep Nackawic going would be offered in Campbellton as well. Now it seems Molson is throwing its weight around again and just as the ‘beer wars’ heat up, they announce ‘technical difficulties’ with building. Hmmmm, sound suspicious?

    As I mentioned at Scott’s site, there’s a difference between what politician’s say, and what the MEDIA clips out. Unless you’ve been watching the legislature every day, then there’s an awful lot that politicians are saying that you don’t hear about. The NDP, of course, can barely get press when they scream bloody murder, let alone offer alternatives. Even during the election they barely got their issues covered.

    And once again, to play devils’ advocate, I’ll throw out the NDP, and formerly liberal idea of public insurance. While according to the study it wouldn’t provide as many jobs, it would provide better and more secure jobs, it would control premiums better, and most importantly, all the money that New Brunswickers now send to Ontario, the US and Europe, would actually stay IN the province. That’s cold hard cash in the hands of the province!

    That’s a very clear alternative that the NDP has been pushing for years. As mentioned at another blog, the tory $2500 cap on soft tissue damage means that money for healthcare that used to come from insurance companies, now comes from people’s own pockets and the healthcare system. No wonder, as the blogger points out, the insurance execs were in the house cheering when the legislation was read. Any word on the liberals about changing that?

    That’s just ONE ‘alternative’ that has been around for years, so please don’t mistake presenting policies you don’t like for not advancing policies at all.

    This is important because its a very common rhetorical device, and now blogs are a part of the ‘media system’ so its important they don’t become mirror images of bad press already present in the province. The “not presenting alternatives” theme extends right through from protestors to anybody that ever says anything bad about the Irvings. It’s given as a reason to not listen to people, or at the very least scrutinize them more than for policies you like. People forget that the MAIN underlying alternative to advancing any policy is NOT advancing that policy. So the alternative is built right into the act or protesting, or in this case, ‘complaining’.

    As mentioned over at Charles blog, people don’t even know whether the LNG terminal will be an open or closed loop system. One kills massive amounts of sea wildlife, the other doesn’t, but is more expensive. So one will have an economic impact on fishermen in the area, perhaps a terminal effect.

  2. Scott says:

    For once I agree with Anon, I think you are getting a little bent out of shape here for something you were actually guilty of doing a few weeks back, that being, questioning the self-sufficiency task force and its motive. Nonetheless, I agree with your premise that opposition parties should oppose more responsibly as well as come up with unique ideas instead of attacking. I said that on my blog about the my tories wherein last week they irresponsbly criticized the Premier for his capitulation to FERC’s ultimate decision. You can go read the post if you haven’t already.

    Anyway, back to your post. You said, “The out-migration of young people has never been higher than under the latest Tory government.”

    That could be true if your looking at the entire administration’s life cycle as opposed to individual years wherein, correct me if I’m wrong, outmigration peaked during Mckenna’s watch. But, to be honest, migratory patterns aren’t cut and dry and don’t always indicate the year to year success of a government. At least, on paper that is. For instance, employment growth in New Brunswick during the second half of the 1990s was double that in the first half. As a result, the province’s workforce rose 8.1% for the decade as a whole to just over 325,300. New Brunswick’s employment rate rose from 53.2% in 1991 to 55.2% in 2001, a record high for the province. But correct me if I’m wrong, outmigration levels were still pretty high during that period. Not to mention, as you can see from the yrs. mentioned, part of that growth in employment occured during both administrations watch, and when you consider that Lord was only in 7 years, that is a significant reflection on his administration as well.

    Moreover, the reason for the increase in outmigration during Lord’s tenure was that he couldn’t stop the bleeding that occured after the high tech industry bottomed out. This was mostly due to the fact that he was given a bad hand by the former government, in that, the only solid [one could argue that word] industry that they were able to attract in large numbers was the call-centre industy which did little to turn the province’s overall bad economic fortunes around. However, where we both agree, I think, is that the Lord administration was not proactive enough in attracting new business and industry, not to mention, they were guilty of under funding R&D at levels far below the rate of any other province.

    Anyway, I’m not here to defend nor am I here to criticize on a petty partisan basis. Realistically, we could sit here for hours upon hours blamming this guy or that guy, but if we really want to get ahead, we will put the blame game aside and focus more on bipartanship as a manner to move with the economy. We can afford to argue regional petty arguements in a highly competitive global environment.

  3. David Campbell says:

    I agree with that and I genuinely hope that the NB Tories come up with a ‘self sufficiency’ plan of their own because I believe that the Libs may have struck a cord here with the people. As for the former Premier and his contribution or lack thereof, I don’t think there has been anything written that would provide the public with that view. Maybe you, Scott, should write a short history of Lord and his tenure. Someone talked to me today about the positive impact of Lord’s change to the primary and secondary education system. Is this true? I have no idea. All I know is that when Lord himself talks about his legacy, he talks about the strong economic performance and I can’t agree.