Iggy learns a lesson

Michael Ignatieff has an op-ed in the NY Times this weekend – picked up by the Globe & Mail. One thing about Iggy, he certainly seems to be better in print than ‘live’. The piece in the NYTimes as about Iraq but I was struck by another point he makes:

Having left an academic post at Harvard in 2005 and returned home to Canada to enter political life, I keep revisiting the Iraq debacle, trying to understand exactly how the judgments I now have to make in the political arena need to improve on the ones I used to offer from the sidelines. I’ve learned that acquiring good judgment in politics starts with knowing when to admit your mistakes.

Knowing when to admit your mistakes.

Now quick. Think about the last time you heard a New Brunswick politician to a mea culpa – I mean on a serious issue like Orimulsion, toll highways, tax increases (property under the old gang and personal/corporate under the new gang), etc.

And, of course, on the biggest issue of all for me, here we are in New Brunswick – one of a very small handful of provinces/states in North America that is shedding population. One of even a smaller groups of provinces/states that is generating less “own source” tax revenue as a percentage of its overall budget today than 8-9 years ago. We’ve gone through the largest sustained economic growth cycle in Canadian history and yet we have to live with that moniker.

And beyond just the provincial politicians, when was the last time the Feds admitted to ‘mistakes’ on their regional development policies (or lack thereof)? I have heard and continue to hear nice, well-intentioned federal politicians talking about all the great things the Libs did for this region in the area of economic development in their 12 year rule. And Canada’s New Government, of course, by their admission has been spectacular in their regional development policy.

Interesting that some of the hottest sectors in the Canadian economy – animation, clean tech, biofuels, aerospace, trade (so-called gateway initiatives), etc. are all being pursued vigorously outside New Brunswick and there are major Federal and Provincial funding programs to help support their growth. Why wouldn’t New Brunswick identify and partner with the Feds on some innovative new growth sectors here?

We are, of course, pursuing nuclear energy. A file I have zero knowledge of. However, I did hear Hillary and Barack both say in their YouTube debate that nuclear is ‘an option’ but it would seem to be ‘too expensive’ and with serious ‘regulatory’ issues to be a top of mind strategy.

However, apparently in New Brunswick it is not too expensive and regulation is not too much of an issue (at least to read the TJ).

Don’t get me wrong. I have nothing against nuclear energy. I just don’t know enough about the file. I still think that we should be more about what we would do in New Brunswick with the energy rather than how fast we can ship it abroad.

However, back to my original point. The first step in any 12 step program is admitting you have a problem (or have done things wrong).

We haven’t done that in New Brunswick. Yes, this is inconsistent with all that stuff coming out of the self-sufficiency commission but I still believe it.

I talked with someone who works closely with Business New Brunswick recently and it is clear that not only does that department think it has been on the wrong track, many up there think that BNB has been doing all the right things. And judging by the fact there has been no major changes in the dept. by the Graham gov (other than cutting its budget), it would seem they agree.

I submit we have been doing things very wrong for a long time. The only reason our population decline has not been worse has been the call centre sector and public sector job creation. Eventually and soon, both these sectors will plateau – one would think.