Constitutional subterfuge

There wasn’t much in the New Brunswick Government’s speech from the throne kicking off the legislature yesterday. I read the speech on the Web last night. Lot’s of preening and posturing but limited substance.

There was one statement, however; that caught my eye.

Your government has invited the federal government to participate in the Greater Opportunity prosperity plan through a collaborative investment proposal, entitled Accelerating Greater Opportunity, which will be tabled before this assembly.

This partnership offer could help close more quickly the gaps between New Brunswick and the rest of Canada in terms of income, employment, innovation, productivity and export diversity. It would also make sure the federal government meets its constitutional obligation to ensure comparable economic development in all regions of Canada.

Firstly, I have not seen this ‘Accelerating Greater Opportunity’ investment proposal. It will be very interesting to see if this document has any references to strengthening New Brunswick’s ability to attract investment or if it will be just another gravy train wish list – otherwise known as ‘side deals’ – otherwise known as major annoyances to western Canada.

Secondly, Lord has used this phrase ‘constitutional obligation’ several times in the past few months. I think this is a very bizarre angle to approach the issue of economic development. If the Federal government had a constitutional obligation to ensure comparable economic development in all regions of Canada why has New Brunswick underperformed the Canadian economy (broadbased) since Confederation? This is a very big leap by the Premier and code for ‘we want more money’.

The Federal government has pointed out on many occasions that economic development is in the provincial jurisdiction. It is the province’s role to ensure economic development happens in New Brunswick and not the Feds.

Now, don’t get me wrong. The Feds have spent tens of billions of dollars supporting economic development in Ontario, Quebec, et. al. and they have a role to play.

But the buck stops here. In New Brunswick. With our provincial government and the people of this province.

The more we blame others for our sad economic performance the worse things will get.