Choosing a Minister for BNB

I was curious about all the speculation about ‘who’ would be the new Cabinet – as if all the talk amounts to much.

Nevertheless, I add my two cents to the mix.

First, I am surprised at how downplayed the position of Minister for Business New Brunswick seems to be. Other bloggers talk about Health, Energy, Finance, Education, Training, etc. and good ol’ BNB falls to about half way down the priority list.

It seems that Lamrock, Murphy, Byrne, MacIntyre, Hache, et. al. are too good to be the Minister for BNB.

It would seem the new Liberal government needs to shake loose the cobwebs of the last seven years. It’s true that BNB was not an overly desired portfolio in the Lord government. I had a mid level BNB manager tell me in 2003 “Would you want to run a department that keeps getting its mandate and budget chopped?”.

But it was not always so. Before it was called Business New Brunswick (a name I always disliked – we spent over a decade trying to educate people about what the term ‘economic development’ meant and they scrap it for the meaningless Business New Brunswick which could easily mean a trade group, association, whatever. I prefer Department of Economic Development.

But I digress.

At one point, being Minister of economic development was a highly coveted post – filled with folks like Losier, Theriault and even MacIntyre. Even though you were overshadowed by Frank himself you were still heading the sexiest and most enviable portfolio in government (in my humble opinion).

It should be that way again. Cripes, Graham Jr. wants to bring us to self sufficiency within 20 years! That would take an economic miracle – Business New Brunswick or whatever more appropriate name there is – would have to be by definition the most important portfolio in government if your goal is such an economic turnaround that we can eliminate $1.4 billion in annual Equalization payments (which are in rapid growth) in 20 years.

So, to those who would place ‘BNB’ at the margin of plum ministerial jobs, phooey on you.

Second to the Premier, this must be the top job in Cabinet.

Unless, of course, you follow my previous advice and set up a separate, Nova Scotia Business Inc. type organization for investment attraction and trade development and leave ‘BNB’ as a policy, special projects and liaison type department. Then the top job in Cabinet would be the latter.

How’s that for confusing things?