NDP/Tories need to stop complaining and start providing alternatives

Dennis Atchison, former NDP candidate, has a scathing piece in the TJ today entitled “McKenna, McGuire policies failed N.B.”

It it, he lists a few of the McKenna cuts in the 1990s and tries to then say that’s a good reason not to trust Francis McGuire.

A couple of observations:

1. Mr. Atchison never mentions the deep federal funding cuts and the large scale deficits that McKenna faced (some of it may have been of his own doing). What would the NDP have done? Ran up the deficits even higher? Spent recklessly and imperil the province’s credit rating? No, look to Saskatchewan where an NDP government made the deepest cuts of all to the health care system when they were trying to get their deficit under control.

2. There has been nothing but scorn coming out of the NDP and Tories about the Liberal theme of ‘self-sufficiency’. That, in and of itself, is not a bad thing. Based on the Tory record, it is right for opposition parties to be skeptical of wild promises and talk of ‘prosperity’. However, just poo pooing what is a super underlying thesis – making NB self-sufficient is, in my opinion, a serious blunder on the part of the Tories and what’s left of the NDP. New Brunswickers want to be respected again. Young New Brunswickers are tired of being the brunt of snide Equalization remarks when the talk to folks in Ontario or out west. New Brunswickers would like nothing more than to keep its native sons and daughters here and attract back expatriates.

New Brunswickers have not seen a real economic growth spurt (i.e. outpacing the national population growth levels) since Confederation. Just think what that would do to our collective self-esteem. You can only kick people around so long.

So the Tories and the NDP should stop being sarcastic and perpetuating the vision of New Brunswick as the Equalization and EI hub of Canada and start putting forward real solutions of their own. Bold, visionary solutions.

I think these politicians think voters are fundamentally stupid or at least naive. The Tories plowed all new money into health care (by their own admission) and figured that New Brunswickers would embrace that vision. Turning New Brunswick into one big retirement home. The out-migration of young people has never been higher than under the latest Tory government.

Then a party comes along, the Liberals, with what is an admittedly wild proposition – economic self-sufficiency and all the opposition can do is heap scorn on it?

Under Lord, the provincial requirement for Equalization increased by $700 million. While Canada grew at an unprecedented growth rate (economy and population), all we could manage to do was increase our dependency on Equalization.

We need to reverse that trend.

What a lot of people like Yvon Gaudin and Dominic Leblanc don’t understand is that future generations of New Brunswickers aren’t going to want to live on EI. No matter how rich they make the program, I believe less and less folks will want to live that lifestyle. We are already seeing fish plant workers from the coast moving to Greater Moncton to take year round jobs in the manufacturing sector.

Gaudin and Leblanc would be far better off crafting a vision for their region that embeds ‘less EI’ into the economic model instead of demanding more.

More EI is not the solution. More Equalization is not the solution. We have had oodles more of both in the past 8-10 years and where has it gotten us? This only greased the pole that slid our young people out to Alberta.

I would like to see all of our political parties coming up with alternative views on how to move NB forward – seriously forward. Not just sitting back and taking pot shots at the current government who at least are showing some interest.