I just got back from listening to the Premier’s State of the Province address. I hadn’t gone to one of these things in several years. In fact, the last one I went to was held at the Sheraton and wasn’t even full. I think it was three or four years ago. This one was packed – someone said over 1,100 people.

The Premier bragged that as a result of his self-sufficiency plan, the province broke the longest string of population decline in New Brunswick since the Great Depression.

The Premier would be advised not to push this too hard. The formal estimate of the population did increase like he said but by only about 600 people (2006-2007). In addition, while no one knows the exact amount, one estimate I heard recently from a union guy was that there are between 4,000 and 8,000 people working in Alberta but that technically live in New Brunswick. In addition, the temporary construction workers are coming in from out of province to work on the infrastructure projects in SJ – and they won’t be here too long. All I am saying is that this is a fluid situation.

Second, Bernard Lord benefitted from something like 7 or 8k call centre jobs during his mandate. It is likely Graham will get no bounce like that.

The other thing of a general nature that I find funny is that Graham, like Lord before him, is promising 100 new doctors. Lord and Graham combined have hired something like 3,000 new health care workers in the past 8-9 years – on no population increase. Will someone please tell me how come we need 3,000 more health care workers when the population has actually declined? Both Lord and Graham are ‘transforming’ the health care system. At this rate, we will all have our own family doctor by 2026.

But overall, you have to like the guy’s enthusiasm. Like I said, the last one I went to was like a morgue. Graham got so exciting spewing forth the schpeel that I thought he was going to levitate. It was like a Penticostal preacher without the speaking in tongues thing (although the crowd didn’t quite get some of his French references).

I just think things are a little misaligned.

After 140 years of being at the arse end of Canada in terms of economic development (we have never achieved at least the national growth rate in population for a single Census period in 140 years), I don’t think that New Brunswickers are an overly optimistic lot. It’s bread in the bone. Most of the applause tonight was of the polite variety.

I do think that if Graham actually gets some results, then people might start getting excited. You plop down a 500 person, high paying aerospace plant in the Miramichi and they will start buying into your notion.

Graham talks about New Brunswick being the best place in Canada to be. Actually, that’s the new slogan “Be…. quelque chose”.

Maybe. But it will take more than words. Graham talks about “the most significant changes to the post-secondary system in 40 years” and then announces that UNBSJ and UdeM will stay as they are. He gutted the two main recommendations of the report (although I realize that these were highly controversial). What would he call ‘significant’?

He’s forecasting 25,000 to 30,000 new jobs over his first mandate (I think this was the number). But where would they come from? Imagine if a company said they were going to triple sales. Wouldn’t the stockholders want to know how?

I wish them well, I honestly do. I am now 18 years into my New Brunswick career and I don’t think much has changed in those 18 years. We are more in debt to the Equalization program. We still have upwards of 100,000 people on EI each year. We have moved from population growth to population decline. Certainly there are less people unemployed now than 18 years ago about that actually brings its own set of problems.

Let’s hope that next year’s SOTP will be a good START.