On insurance and economic development

Just a quick follow up to my previous, somewhat forceful, blog on auto insurance.

I am not advocating that governments do nothing when a key cost of living component such as auto insurance (or electricity or gas for that matter) escalates out of control as auto insurance rates did in 2003 and early into 2004.

I think it is the governments role to work with industry and other stakeholders to determine the source of the problem and take steps to address it.

However, I think a province such as New Brunswick must be ‘open for business’ – in the generic sense of that word and I used to think that the New Brunswick Liberal Party understood this.

It’s not about shamelessly doing whatever industry says at the expense of the environment or New Brunswicker’s disposible income. But it is about taking a collaborative approach to addressing these issues again be it insurance or the environment or energy or the forestry for that matter.

Grand standing about the evils of big business is the role of the NDP – not the Liberals or the Tories. If the auto insurance system had been cartelized pushing out competition and arbitrarily raising rates that lead to the gouging of consumers – then I would also support a public system.

But the reality is that the auto insurance system was out of control in New Brunswick before the government reforms. It was called ‘auto lotto’ and more than one person reading this blog knows what I mean.

When you have a select group of people abusing a system for personal gain at the expense of society -then government needs to step in and rectify the situation. But I would submit to you that the bad guy here wasn’t the insurance industry (although they are not exactly paragons of virtue either) but those profiteers that wanted to unduly benefit at the expense of everyone else in society.

Auto lotto has been curbed. Rates are coming down and competition is coming back into the system.

My frustration, again, was with the Liberal Party’s position on this. Leave the anti-big business rhetoric to the NDP. The Liberals and the other mainstream party inNew Brunswick should be about collaboration with industry on the economic development of this province and not about the socialization of industry to appease a perceived political end.