Someone asked me this week what I thought about some of the government’s high profile appointments (and rumoured appointments). I realize that Premier Alward said he would be ‘doing things differently’ just as former Premier Graham talked about ‘bringing in top talent’ from across Canada to help him implement the self-sufficiency agenda.
The truth is that governments – almost universally – will reward their biggest supporters in some way after they go from in the wilderness to the running the show. There are few levers for them in a small place like New Brunswick so one of the most important are the top government jobs – Deputy Ministers, crown corp heads, etc.
While I fully applauded Graham’s idea to go out and bring in a few top guys/gals to help with the transformation (this is what private sector firms do all the time), I realize the political pressure. These guys/gals are on the bus during the campaign and they are rewarded for it. That makes some sense to me. Besides, a new Premier and Cabinet are going to want people around they know and trust.
I guess my only criticism here is that these people in the top jobs – some with little or no experience in that specific area – should reach out to experts and folks who have been in similar jobs before. They need to be people that consult broadly and get up to speed quickly on the main issues.
I remember – a while ago now maybe a decade – talking to a new top dog in an appointed economic development post and wondering at just how little they actually knew about how economies really grow. This guy had visions of tiny mom-n-pops blossoming all over the province and stimulating massive economic growth. When I explained the difference between jockeying for existing local markets (the bulk of business activity in any jurisdiction) and attracting in new market activity (exports) and the basic concepts of economic growth, he wasn’t very pleased.
So to those getting the top jobs, I think we need to pull together. If their employees and stakeholders subtley sabotage them because they don’t like the choice what good will that do the province? They earned their places at the table from party loyalty and sweat equity.