Kindergarteners need to stick together

I had another conversation yesterday with a proponent of more cooperation between the Maritimes on economic development. She couldn’t believe that we don’t cooperate more. We share the same regional economy. We share the same fate. Why not cooperate? (hey, that’s got a little Dr. Seuss in it)

Anyway, I have commented on this in the past but for her sake (and anyone else clamouring for regional cooperation), here’s the crux of the thing.

If Alberta is successful, that’s fine for certain politicians and bureaucrats in New Brunswick or Nova Scotia or PEI.

But if Nova Scotia is successful, that’s not fine. That’s shines a spotlight on our own deficiencies. That starts people asking questions. If they can do it, why can’t we?

Because I am New Brunswick-based and because of the woeful state of provincial economic development here, I tend to pick on New Brunswick the most in this area but it does cut two ways.

NS Premier MacDonald obstructing the Molson plant in Moncton comes down to the age old rivalry between the two provinces. Anyone who says it’s about fairness is just being silly. Nova Scotia has similar beer ‘deal’ with Quebec – similar to the one it won’t sign with New Brunswick. Why Quebec and not New Brunswick? See paragraph 4 above.

Why won’t the provinces cooperate on attracting global business investment into the Maritimes? See paragraph 4 above.

Why won’t the provinces set up a combined Atlantic Provinces investment team based in Europe with the goal of attracting investment to the region? See paragraph 4 above.

Why won’t the region look at the issue of immigration in a coordinated way? See paragraph 4 above.

Why won’t the region take a coordinated position when dealing with Ottawa? See paragraph 4 above.

If PEI is successful, New Brunswick will resent it. If Iowa is successful who cares.

It should be the opposite. We should be celebrating the success of our sister provinces in Atlantic Canada – not emoting jealousy. We should be emulating it – not discounting it.

We need to face it. Right now Nova Scotia and PEI are eating New Brunswick’s lunch when it comes to attracting good paying, high quality jobs from international firms. That’s a fact. Instead of denying it or ignoring it or saying “New Brunswick is focusing more on helping our local businesses”, this province should be looking closely at those two provinces and emulating and building on their successful models.

And as for the beer thing. Premier MacDonald should get past this and sign the beer deal with New Brunswick. I know that probably half his advisors and half the population would prefer the beer be produced in Ontario and shipped here rather than produced in “New Brunswick” [quote/unquote] Nova Scotia’s neighbour. But at the end of the day, Nova Scotia should celebrate this plant being in the Maritimes at all and New Brunswick should celebrate Nova Scotia’s success.

It’s a great big playground out there. And the high school bullies are picking on the kindergarteners. But I believe four of those little tots can compete with one pimply, confident but self conscious teenager. They’ll stand on one another’s shoulders and look the bully right in the face.

And hit him with their lunch pail.

If they can stop hitting each other.