Good night, and good luck

Look folks. I am seriously thinking about shutting the blog down. I tried a few months ago but a lot of people I respect told me I was adding some value to the discourse and to keep it up.

But I’m getting tired. I’m 40 this year and the first time someone accused me of standing on a soapbox was in 1992. And I have been standing on that soapbox ever since. As an economic development worker, consultant, – and since October 2004 as a blogger.

I don’t know what would keep me writing. Don’t get me wrong, I like this stuff. I am a believer in transformational leadership. I think things could turn around in New Brunswick.

I am not sure what I actually thought this blog would accomplish. I didn’t have grand schemes but when I started getting invited to have lunch with an MLA, or got an email on the side from an ADM or a telephone call from someone’s EA, I thought there were a few folks reading this that maybe walked the halls of power and maybe would take some of this stuff into the policy discussions.

But that was niave at best and silly at worst.

The truth is that New Brunswick has not outperformed the national average for population growth since Confederation. 140 years. As a side, apparently the Prime Minister in 1967 told all Canadians to do something special to celebrate Canada’s 100. I was my parent’s gift to Canada – that’s what my mother says anyway.

Again, maybe it’s just my naivete. But there is a record level of money sloshing around Ottawa these days and a Conservative government in power. I thought, stupidly, that a Conservative government would want to put programs in place to ween places like New Brunswick off Equalization and get onto a firm economic foundation. But I was wrong. One of the first things the Tories did was sweeten the EI program and since then, not a word related to anything even close to a strategy to help NB become a contributor to Confederation and not an increasing drain. At least the Liberals pretended with all that talk of innovation. The Conservatives aren’t even pretending.

Then there’s the new Liberal government. Worst to first. Self-sufficient in 20 years. Healthy and happy. Pass the pistachio nuts. But then what? Nothing in a 1/4 of a mandate and a lame duck deputy minister shuffle.

Someone I trust on this stuff has told me that government is essentially a pragmatic entity. Politicians talk and talk some more and the bureaucracy gets on with the business. So the same people in different roles will likely yield the same results.

I admit it. I wanted something different. Something maybe even a little innovative. Possibly magical.

I called for 5% of the total budget to be channeled into development oriented activity. R&D support, industry training, sector strategies.

Instead, I got a cut in the already piddly 0.5% of the total budget spent on BNB.

I called for a bold new economic development strategy that engaged local and provincial stakeholders and brought the thinking of economic development across all government departments and up the ladder to Ottawa.

Instead, I got BNB tacked on as a side to the responsibilities of another Deputy Minister.

I called for aggressive changes to the way we look at R&D in New Brunswick.

And I got – as of yet – nothing.

I called for a serious people attraction strategy tied to real jobs and real sector growth strategies.

And I got more consultations about social integration and sensitivity building among the populace.

So, maybe I am wrong. Maybe things are all heading forward. Afterall, the Telegraph Journal ran a story this week entitled “Atlantic Boom in Jeopardy” or something similar.

From 1996 to 2006, the Atlantic Provinces collectively lost something like 70,000 population as Canada as a whole saw record levels of population growth.

Someone did a Wikipedia on the definition of boom, I guess.

So, that brings me to the point. Why continue this charade? I don’t get paid for it. I don’t get any new consulting business as a result of it – in fact, if I had shut my mouth I’d probably get more consulting business.

There are bloggers – good ones – that write witty, thought provoking prose for a business.

Maybe I should stop talking and start listening. Or better yet – just accept the fact that New Brunswick will always be New Brunswick. Like most have.

I appreciate all your comments and emails. But, honestly, ask yourself. If it was you would you keep writing all this crap? Wasting upwards of 6-7 hours per week? Cripes, there is over 1300 pages of original writing in this thing. Over 275 charts/graphs.

For what?