A little sad today

I just heard that a couple of people I have a lot of respect for in Saint John were not very happy with my recent comments about the Benefits Blueprint for that city. It’s frustrating for me that when you raise questions about anything, instead of seeing that as positive feedback, people in this province almost always view it as some form of partisan criticism.

The truth is I am happy with what I saw in the Benefits Blueprint. The full study was not released so it is impossible to critique the data. My only concern is that a) the boom cycle they are forecasting is unprecedented in the history of New Brunswick and b) after that boom, the remaining jobs will be relatively limited. As a result, I am calling for efforts to leverage the energy hub into a broader, longer term economic development plan. This could include energy research investments, policies to develop and make available low cost industrial power to attract industry, etc. I am not poo-pooing the BB. If the people of Saint John want this, I am fully behind it. I have been involved with a number of projects in the Saint John region and I feel I have am personally invested in the community’s success. Any commentary I make is with the best of intentions.

The same can be said for Business New Brunswick. A couple of exBNBers have told me lately that sometimes my comments are viewed harshly by some inside the provincial economic development group. Be clear about this. I want more resources for BNB – not less – I want a broader mandate not a lessened mandate and I think a successful BNB is key for the province’s economic future. I just may disagree with some people on what BNB should doing.

It’s sad to say that in this province if you want a discussion on things you have to go right to the polarity of the issue. It’s either hard right (AIMS) or hard left (David Coon). Everyone else is parsing their words to make sure they don’t offend anyone. The Energy Hub should be debated – broadly. Moncton’s economic development should be debated – broadly. Same for the North.

I want to be part of that debate but if I alienate potential consulting clients I may end up debating from the metaphorical Siberia.