Odds & ends

Once again it seems that Al Hogan and I are at opposite ends of the spectrum. I said the other day that maybe we should rethink how we get funds from Ottawa – it seems much easier to get money for highways than for R&D, for example and that we should push for a different model. Al says:

Thus, it seems, the province will attempt to get its federal funds piecemeal and via assistance for such things as continued twinning of highways, crucial infrastructure for growing economic activity.

So, in Al’s mind having more twinned highways is more important than attracting industry or boosting R&D or having a more effective approach to immigration.

As I said before, twinned highways are important. I would like to see a four lane highway from Moncton to Edmundston across the top of NB. But I do see this disturbing trend of New Brunswick being able to get money for the not so critical stuff and going up against a brick wall for money for stuff that I deem to be critical. And not to put too fine a point on it but giving New Brunswick $100 million to twin a highway would be ignored in Ontario. Giving New Brunswick $100 million to support a bid to attract the next KIA plant would be met with outrage in Ontario.

On a lighter note, the CAW is deeply opposed to free trade with South Korea. I am not being cynical here either but it would seem to me that if that next KIA plant came to Canada and if it was unionized – the CAW would be thrilled. But because it won’t be, the CAW is deeply opposed. At some point, you would think the CAW would be able to look at this stuff with a slightly wider lense – but maybe that’s not their job.

Dithering in politics
Someone asked me yesterday why Premier Graham was so quick to back track on his post-secondary education plan. I don’t know. I have never had a conversation with the Premier let alone have an understanding of his thought process. All I can say is that these guys aren’t good at dropping trial balloons. They should get better.

For example, Premier Lord wanted to deeply cut agricultural subsidies in his first budget. He announced the cuts, the farmers drove their tractors up to Freddy Beach, there was a major rally and the Premier announced he would ‘study’ the issue and it quietly dropped out of view.

McKenna wanted to make Snow Birds pay for health insurance when they are in Florida. He thought it was wrong for them to be spending all their money there half the year and still get full Medicare coverage. He announced this, the seniors came to Fredericton and waved their canes and walkers at him and he announced he would ‘study’ the issue and it quietly dropped out of view.

In fact, it seems like Bernard Lord left his playbook on his desk in the Premier’s Office and Shawn Graham picked it up. The basic play is this:

1. Don’t do anything until there is a crisis (and by crisis I mean constant media criticism). Until said crisis try and keep things under wraps (think health care, auto insurance, education, forestry, population, ect.)

2. When it becomes unavoidable, then announce you are going to study it (set up a year long commission) – hope it dies down.

3. If it doesn’t die down, announce you will restudy it (think the current rethink of the post secondary review). Wait another six months.

4. If you still can’t get resolution, announce you are making the much needed changes – but over ten years (like the prosperity plan, education plan, etc.). Then avoid any accountability on it until you get booted out of office (in less than the ten years).

Then everyone forgets about the 10 year plans and the new guy (thinking ahead) will put a 20 year plan in place. Then start over at point #1.