On rural call centres and thick skin in politics

Another rural call centre
Representatives from Virtual-Agent Services were in Hillsborough yesterday to announce the company’s thirteenth customer contact centre in the province.The centre has been up and running for a little more than a month and currently employs 33 people. The company is aiming to have between 40 and 50 employees within a year.

I have a couple of points on this:

1. That’s great. 40 jobs in rural Albert County should be welcome news. I worked on the VAS file back in the 1990s and it was a novel idea then that has blossomed into 13 call centres around New Brunswick.

2. The PCs were highly critical of McKenna for just attracting ‘call centres’ back in the 1990s. Lord himself said he would initiate a ‘made in New Brunswick’ alternative. Well, since they came into power, over 80% of their new investment projects have been call centres. So much for the ‘made in New Brunswick’ solution, eh? And the other sectors that were beginning to percolate circa 1997-99? e-Learning, animation/games development, etc.? Gone like the wind….

Tanker the Speaker
That’s one of the things I like about Miramichiers, you can always count on them to have thick skin. Premier Lord tears a strip off Tanker Malley questionning his integrity and ultimately insinuating that he is a liar and Malley continues to call the Premier ‘his friend’. Then we read today that the Premier has reconsidered and will be making Malley Speaker of the House after all. It seems that the Premier isn’t so eager for a 2006 election after all.

NB Power announcement
They criticized former PM Martin for trying to be all things to all people. Now that the provincial Liberals have signalled their intention to move the ball firmly to the left, the PCs have gotten in on the action – at least that’s how the energy plan released yesterday reads to me. Don’t get me wrong, I think that cutting the HST on power bills is a neat little political trick – it should save me several hundred bucks a year (thanks!) – but I am firmly against both the PCs and the Libs and their attempts to make New Brunswick a more regulated place.

Al Hoganisms
If you were to do a search on the Times & Transcript using the terms ‘Premier Lord’ and ‘visionary’ in the past six years you would get probably hundreds of articles (including today). What exactly is the definition of ‘visionary’? Isn’t it someone who has a good grasp of the future? Maybe Al and I have different dictionaries. A ‘visionary’ politicial in New Brunswick is one who sees the imminent demographic and economic crisis and takes bold steps to deal with it. Not someone who reacts at the last possible moment on every potential file from auto insurance, to energy rates, to democratic reform (where is that one again). We had the Prosperity Plan to guide us 10 years. That fizzled – none of the targets are even close to being hit. So we now have the ‘Five in Five’ plan – again great concepts with no real plans and no real budgets to make it happen. So it would seem for Al Hogan, Visionary means pulling the wool over everyone else’s eyes and then saying ‘trust me!’ I can see.