I’m looking for the word. Is it hubris? No. Not quite. Arrogance? No. Not really. Audacity, brass, cheek, chutzpah, cockiness, conceitedness, contemptuousness, disdain, insolence, loftiness, nerve, ostentation, overbearance, pomposity, pompousness, presumption, pretension, pretentiousness, self-importance, vanity?
Frank McKenna makes a rousing speech on Friday on his ideas for education and the importance of education to New Brunswick’s future.
It was full of all the old cliches. The same ones I heard in 1990. 1995. 2000. 2005.
You know them. “New Brunswick can compete on a world scale”. “We need to build the best system in Canada”. “New Brunswickers have what it takes”.
On and on. I expected him to roll out the bootstraps metaphor.
Yet, here we are 20 years on from the McKenna ‘miracle’ and we are still last in Canada for education. In 1987, the population was rising. Now it’s declining.
McKenna was a ‘champion’ of the new economy and, yet, if you back out call centre jobs, New Brunswick has either the smallest or the 2nd smallest IT sector in Canada. And there has been very little done in practical terms to remedy that.
So, I think I am changing my mind about what I want to see in a politician (Tories listen up).
I think we need a provincial government that talks about incremental change. About slowly starting to rectify things. About putting us us back on the rails. About moving from 10th to 9th among provinces for R&D – not worst to first.
Because all this – whatever word you want to use – had got us nowhere. If I had a nickel for every proactive word uttered by McKenna, Lord and now Graham, I’d be a millionaire yet in real terms (as a percentage of the budget) they are spending less on economic development and less on research & development today than they were 15 years ago.
I’m 40 this year. I’ve spent my entire career so far in New Brunswick – in and around economic development and I am getting fed up with this crap. I really am.
I don’t think I have the stomach for one more speech.