Bernie Graham/Shawn Lord

I had to chuckle when I read the T&T this morning. Here’s a pertinent quote:

“…..enough snippets of information had dribbled out by the end of the working day to suggest New Brunswick Premier Shawn Graham is building a reputation for himself as a poised, likeable leader with a quiet talent for building consensus.”

That is almost word-for-word the language the T&T used to describe Bernard Lord’s performance when dealing with the other Premiers. I know this is only two examples, but one thinks that if Gumby was Premier, the T&T would extol him as a great leader among the Premiers.

The truth is that Graham is no threat to other Premiers – at all. We are the only province without any real effort to attract people from the ‘have’ provinces. Just this week there were stories about the millions of dollars being spent by SK and NL to poach workers from Alberta and Ontario.

Ontario doesn’t see New Brunswick as a threat. After all, it got its ‘per capita’ deal on social and health transfer funding. All of the billions allocated for industrial development in Ontario are under no threat from New Brunswick.

Quebec is trying to grow its animation business and may feel threatened by Nova Scotia’s new digital media tax credit program and effort to grow that sector. New Brunswick is not competing with Quebec on any industrial sector development as far as I can see.

No, the reality is that New Brunswick must be perceived by the other Premiers as a non-issue right now. There is squabbling between NS and NB on LNG but other than that not much controversy at all.

Far cry from the days when McKenna was trying to poach jobs from other provinces – to the point that the B.C. Premier wanted to take legal action to get him to stop. Far cry from the days when McKenna was walking around the Team Canada airplane trying to convince companies based in Ontario to set up in New Brunswick – to the consternation of the Ontario Premier who was sitting in seat 4B.

The truth is that I would like the other provinces to be annoyed at New Brunswick. Annoyed that company x decided to set up in Fredericton and not Toronto. Annoyed because the Toronto Star ran a story about Shawn Graham’s efforts to poach jobs out of Ontario. Annoyed because New Brunswick one-upped Quebec on a lucrative incentive program to grow the animation cluster.

It seems to me that it is relatively easy to sit back and try to make everyone happy. Just don’t take a position on anything.

But, for me, the Premier of New Brunswick has to be stirring the pot a lot more. Billions for shipbuilding in Nova Scotia. Billions for auto and aerospace in Ontario/Quebec. Billions for biomass development on the Prairies. Hundreds of millions for Gateway initiatives in Ontario and British Columbia.

We need a serious plan for economic development and a partnership between all layers of government. That will take more than a grin and a handshake to get.

The media has marvelled on many ocassions about the fighting between NS, NL and the feds and how Graham is the only Premier in Atl. Canada with a ‘good’ relationship with Ottawa.

If a ‘bad’ relationship strong arms more cooperation, which is better?