Lament of an ex-economic developer

I had the chance to talk yesterday with an ex-economic developer. A guy that used to be involved with trying to move New Brunswick’s economy forward. Among the laments (and we all have those after moving on), was his belief that the province had moved squarely back into the welfare and cycle of dependency mindset. He said that under Frank McKenna, the province had started to work towards economic self-sufficiency. Pulling us up by the bootstraps, et. al. He distinctly remember McKenna bragging about the reduction in federal funding.

Now, he said, the opposite has taken hold. We’re back to the old pre-McKenna days. All you hear about is all the efforts made by the Premier to wring more funding out of the Feds. More equalization. Funding for nuclear power. More health care funding. More education funding. New Brunswick-style child care funding.

All the while our dependency on the the federal government and the taxpayers of Ontario and Alberta increases. And, he stated, this dependency in his mind is what will never allow us to break free.

He continued to say that he thought it was ironic that a ‘conservative’ government (supposedly promoting personal self-sufficiency) would be working so hard to increase dependency and so little to increase economic self-sufficiency.

But I pointed out two things: 1) sometimes its easier to ask Dad for the money than to go out and earn it; and 3) the whole system of Federal funding of poor provinces is set up to discourage initiative and economic self-sufficiency.

He waxed poetic about the good ol’ days. He yearned for them.

Problem with me is that I don’t look back. I look forward. I want the good ol’ days to be still ahead.

But unless we see a radical shift in economic policy in this province, I fear I’ll be dead and gone before anyone sees good ol’ days again around here.