It’s gold, Jerry, gold

You will have to excuse me this morning. I’m suffering from a kind of cultural whiplash and the collar is making it hard to type.

On Sunday, I saw the Coen brothers’ No Country for Old Men and last night I saw Symphony New Brunswick do Handel’s Messiah.

And the New Brunswickers actually stood up for the Hallelujah Chorus. Oh, the humanity.

We have come along way from when Burt Reynolds’ Smokey and the Bandit was playing in the Capitol Theatre here in Moncton. Now its all opera, ballet and symphonies (although we say SNB in a church).

I am sorry to say we haven’t made similar strides in our economic development. We keep dragging out the same old tired thinking from the late 1970s.

If I was advising municipal officials in all three southern NB cities, I’d declare November 27th the official Call Centre Day because without the 15k cc jobs, New Brunswick would have been hammered over the last 15 years. Our IT sector has languished – one of the worst job creation records in North America. Our manufacturing sector is stagnant if not in outright decline. Our tourism – despite all the yakking is back at mid 1990 levels in revenue. And our boys and gals in Freddy Beach are sitting around crossing their fingers hoping that the Irvings and Sussex gas will save the day.

It is interesting to note that the restoration of the Capitol, the establishment of the ballet and opera companies as well as the Symphony were all led by individuals and not government. Government put a few bucks on the table, by in all cases, the cultural/arts initiatives – Northrop Frye Festival, etc. – are led by the private sector.

It would be interesting to see the private sector get interested in economic development. Not vested interested promotion like the NB Biz Council – but genuine economic development. How about an NSBI model with NB Biz Council types actually leading an initiative charged with attracting firms to New Brunswick. Yikes. They’d have to rip up their position papers.

I mentioned it before but it’s worth repeating that a Ganong in the 1950s was pushing hard for the establishment of an office in England to attract U.K. investment to the Maritimes. I wonder if this generation of Ganongs is making a similar pitch?

As an aside, it’s kind of funny that the SSAP never even mentions setting up foreign offices for investment attraction. Ontario has eight, I believe. I hear Quebec has close to 100 people in France working on investment, trade and diplomatic files. Even Alberta has, I believe, eight offices around the world.

NB has zip. In fact, Atlantic Canada has zip. Maybe we should all just think real hard – you know like the The Secret – and business investment will levitate here.

PS – By teh way Burt Reynolds is one of my favourite actors.