The ‘Spin’ Trap

Politics is an interesting game. When you are in the opposition, you hammer away at the government for its policies and lack of results. Then when you get in office you continue to blame the previous government for all that’s wrong in the province. Then, slowly, you begin to take ownership. And after a few years, you are vigorously defending the same things you were vigorously attacking just a few years previous.

Premier Lord touted all of his government’s successes in last nights State of the Province Address. Employment’s up. Unemployment’s down. Yadda Yadda Yadda. He didn’t mention that jobs are up because of the worst employment record in Canada in 2003 (a slight bounce back in 2004). He didn’t mention the hundreds of millions in lost exports – mostly hitting rural New Brunswick businesses. He didn’t mention the closure and downsizing of several anchor employers in rural communities. He didn’t mention the woeful test scores in this year’s OECD ranking of students.

In fairness, Mr. Lord refused ‘to take all the credit’, in the words of the Telegraph Journal reporter, acknowledging the “hard work, dedication and commitment of all New Brunswickers.” It does take a lot of dedication and commitment to finally decide to leave your province and move to Alberta for a job. Here’s a tip, Mr. Premier. Basing your employment strategy on people leaving New Brunswick is not the best economic policy.

Politicians get so caught up in the ‘spin’ that they begin to believe their own stories. I am reasonably sure that the Premier himself actually believes this stuff.

I remember when the Tories first took power in 1999. They hired an auditing firm to review the books and sure enough, they found a ‘real’ deficit of hundreds of millions of dollars and that the previous government had cooked the books (this story was repeated all across Canada). Then, miraculously, when the Finance Minister came out with his first budget, the books were balanced. What happened to that ‘real’ deficit?

Don’t look to our local papers – those transcribers of government press releases – for answers.