This thing about only 50% of people in that poll saying they understand the difference between the original MOU and the revised deal on NB Power and only 17% (less than one out of five) saying they feel they have a good understanding of the deal continues to puzzle me.
I got a long email yesterday from someone claiming there is a direct correlation between our low level of education as a province and this kind of response. I told him I would blog my response to this comment here today. As you probably know, the 2006 Census confirmed that NBers have the distinction of having the lowest level of post-secondary education in the population of any province in Canada.
I guess I kind of bristle at that assertion – drawing a direct correlation between education level (or even intelligence for that matter) and the ability to have a good understanding of big public policy issues and drawing conclusions based on some rational ground.
I was the least intelligent of my siblings (as measured by S.A. T. scores) but I don’t consider myself either dumb or not having the ability to think complex issues through.
I would say the issue is more tied to a deeply rooted conservativism in New Brunswick. As my dad used to say “anyone with any git up and go already got up and left” meaning that the ambitious leave and the less ambitious stay.
While I don’t agree with that generalization, I do agree that NBers aren’t exactly risk takers. I think the measurement of that is complicated but if I had to guess, I would say that a resistence to change is more embedded here than areas that have had sustained economic growth, sustained inward migration of people, etc.
So I come back to my Gladwellian observation that a wide swath of New Brunswickers (apparently far more Anglophone New Brunswickers) had an initial gut feeling that this NB Power deal was bad and they are sticking with it. They don’t feel the need to see the revised MOU or anything else. Someone in a YouTube video says NB Power is worth $43 billion – so there that’s my proof. After entrenching an initial hunch, you then agree with those that validate your initial hunch.
It’s hard to abstract this from the NB Power deal because that is such a big public policy issue but I think this attitude does pervade – at various levels of intensity – most of the big public policy decisions. I think back to the discussions I had about the Finn report on municipal governance in new Brunswick. Every single person that had read this document in detail and that has at least a basic understanding of the issues told me the implementation of this report would be a very good thing for New Brunswick. But without missing a beat almost everyone followed that up with the statement that New Brunswickers will never let it happen.
The Premier once said he would take up the Finn report if he is elected to a second term. Get ready for NB Power Part 2.