I always liked Preston Manning. He was like a contempletive version of Ross Perot. In this op/ed piece in the TJ he calls for more think tanks or at least better funding for the current ones. He says:
In the United States, there are scores of think tanks, covering the entire political spectrum, that constantly generate compelling ideas, policies and communications pieces for their politicians in a timely and effective manner. In Canada, our think tanks are much fewer in number, chronically underfunded and seriously constrained by tax laws.
I think that is dead on. I have been calling for such a think tank in New Brunswick (although my version has a distinctly economic development edge). Up till know, policy has been made at the ‘Cool Camel’ on the back of a napkin (anyone familiar with the back story on the rise of Bernie Lord will remember the now defunct Cool Camel). NB politicians love to serve up the standard fare but if you look closely you will see that there have only been subtle gradiations in policy, legislation and even how the government raises and spends money in the past 40 years.
There have been very few game changer moves out of any NB government – at least in my generation. We are dying the death of a thousand little policy cuts.
Manning is correct. If New Brunswick had a thoughtful – I would say non-partisan but even that is negotiable – entity (ies) that were churning out NB specific ideas for the politicians, government and community leaders to mull over and look to incorporate into public policy. Some will say this is done inside government. They will point to the scores of ‘policy analysts’ in government. But I don’t think can really be done inside government. The Council on Foreign Relations is not inside government. The Brookings Institution is not inside government.