We need a better term than “self-sufficiency” for this general idea of a New Brunswick that is growing, attracting people, economically vibrant and that is weened off Equalization. Essentially, we are talking about a New Brunswick that none of us have seen in our life times – although as I have pointed out before New Brunwick did have a little mini-growth spurt in the mid 1970s.
I had the opportunity to talk with a bunch of interesting folks on Friday in Freddy Beach and I have never felt more strongly that this idea of a better New Brunswick has to be embraced widely across New Brunswick. As one person pointed out, it is almost a cultural failure. A collective lack of faith in our own province that has led to this collective shoulder shrug about the state of things.
I always have to add this disclaimer. Things aren’t that bad in New Brunswick. It’s more of a slow burn. A creeping decline that ends up with some population consolidation in Freddy and Moncton but an overall province of population stagnation, chronic out-migration and increasing reliance on federal transfers.
If we took to the bars and pubs and schools and churches and community halls and hockey games would it change things? If we took the conversation into the public square would it matter?
I have been focused on the idea that you can turbo charge the economy by attracting in a pile of new business investment and that would lead to cultural change (i.e. confidence in New Brunswick) but maybe this is more of a parallel track. Maybe the more positive we are on the potential of New Brunswick, maybe that starts incrementally changing minds.