Economic developer activists

I just had lunch with an old salt of the economic development trade in New Brunswick. After we dispensed with all the standard “can you believe…” or “did you hear about…” pleasantries, he told me that his wife calls him an ‘activist’ that took a wrong turn or something.

That got me thinking. There are not a lot of economic developers around that have the personality of an activist. Of truly believing in something. Willing to ‘strap themselves to the tree’ for economic development. Until now, at least, passion and economic development have not been used in the same sentence very much when it comes to New Brunswick.

But upon reflection, economic developer activists actually use some of the language of environmental activists. Now, without equating in anyway the scope of the thing, think about it:

Consider “if we don’t act now we will imperil future generations”. Economic developer activists say the same thing about our communities and our province.

Or consider “we are harming the health of not only this generation but also future generations”. Economic developer activists make the same case about the economic health of the province.

Or, how about the latest. This just in. The CBC is reporting that global warming is not a future scenario – we are in it. Quebec is developing plans for how to deal with the heat and seniors in Montreal as a result of climate change. A famous UK scientist says we need to put more effort into dealing with the existing climate problems than in trying to prevent future ones.

Well, again the same thing. Economic developer activists tell the public that population decline is not a future scenario but that we are currently in it (actually there is no debate about the ‘science’ of population decline – just look at the 1996 Census population for New Brunswick and then look at the 2006 Census population).

One should not stretch the analogy too far but certain economic developer activists would say that we have ‘sold out’ to the New Brunswick equivalent of the likes of Al Gore and Leonard Decaprio. Folks who like to drive around talking about the seriousness of the problems and about the need to ‘bring our folks back’ and on and on but then live in their 30,000 square feet homes as it were.

One wonders what the equalivalent to carbon offsets might be in my overly stretched metaphorical world.

Anyway to my economic developer activist colleague I say this. Keep hugging those trees (as it were).

Maybe if we can get a little passion injected into this thing, we may get something done.

However, I turn 40 this year and reserve the right to slip into complete cynicism at any given time.