Economic development plans

It seems both the Liberals and Tories like to roll out the same portion of their campaign platforms within hours of each other. Gas tax, senior care, economic development, etc. all rolled out in perfect coreography.

I will have more to say on these topics as the campaign grinds on but for now I will serve up some comments from the venerable Donald Savoie. Like him or not, he is the most likely the foremost scholar on regional development – in the context of the Maritime provinces.

Here’s what he said in the TJ this AM:

On the watering down of the northern economic development fund by Premier Lord who extending the fund province wide:

“It goes counter to all the lessons learned the past 25 years,” said Donald Savoie, the author of Visiting Grandchildren: Regional Economic Development in the Maritimes. Savoie said a regional development fund that doesn’t focus on a particular region stands little chance of achieving its goal.”When you lose focus and you spread it all around, you lose impact,” said Savoie.

Savoie said a plan that focuses on the North “makes eminently more sense” than one with no target area.

As a general rule, I agree with Savoie. This is no different (conceptually) from a company cross-subsidizing one product with the profits of another in order to bring it back to profitability.

Savoie also (again in the TJ) was highly supportive of S. Graham’s plan to bring in talent to augment the senior civil service.

In the era from McNair to McKenna, Savoie says “the New Brunswick civil service was, pound for pound, the best in the country.”I happen to think we’ve lost some of that.”Savoie says it’s “terribly important” that New Brunswick have a civil service operating at peak performance. “We don’t have oil and gas sitting offshore. We have to survive by our wits.

“The civil service gave us a comparative advantage.”Savoie says it’s common in the western world to have a disgruntled civil service but it’s a relatively new phenomenon in New Brunswick.”I think there’s a morale problem,” he said.”I don’t think the civil service is as highly valued as it was.

“Savoie would “fully applaud” any move by Lord or Graham to turn things around.

He also differed with Aucoin on the matter of bringing in people from outside the province to fill high-ranking positions. “I think you can bring people from outside who work in the civil service, who really understand the culture of the civil service,” Savoie said, pointing to examples such as Don Tansley and Lowell Murray as outsiders brought in by Louis Robichaud and Richard Hatfield, respectively.

Final point:

It seems to me that S. Graham is using a lot of Savoie’s ideas in his campaign. Savoie admits being consulted by Graham prior to the election.

I would say that this initial step shows a lot more wisdom than B. Lord. Who did Bernie consult when he was putting together his ideas in 1999?