On Andy Scott

I guess you can accuse me of having a one track mind but, oh well, everybody’s got their own rice bowl.

I was reading an article in the Daily Gleaner that interviewed Andy Scott about his 15 (?) years in Ottawa. Andy reamed off a pile of things he was proud of from his work with the Aboriginals, to the same sex marriage file to his work on the Referendum. Not one mention of any economic development file in New Brunswick. I suppose he could point to some if he thought about it but it seems to me that for an NB politician – that should be at the top of the priorities.

During Andy Scott’s time in Ottawa Canada went through the longest period of sustained economic growth in history – 14-15 years straight with no recession – something like 4 million in population growth – unprecedented economic success – and yes, the bulk of it was under the Liberal administration.

But all New Brunswick has to show for all that Canadian economic and population growth is a slight decline in population and an ever increasing need for federal transfers just to make the payroll. And not even a passing glance of this fact by Andy Scott as he reminisces about all his time in office.

I would think there would be a lot of regret among provincial and federal officials as to why New Brunswick couldn’t join the growth wave that hit Canada in the early-mid 1990s and sustained up until today. I would think there would be a lot of retrospective thinking as to what went wrong. But nothing. Nada.

I just looked at the data today again. New Brunswick’s population growth rate steadily increased in the 1950s and 1960s and then started to drop off into the 1980s around that recession and then kept slowing until it dropped into outright decline from 1996-2001 and then stayed the same through 2006.

Why? What, if any was the government’s role? Certainly there was a large scale expansion of UI/EI in through the 1980s and beyond? What role did that play? What role did the federal government play, if any, in the allocation of FDI over those years and its total concentration in Ontario/Quebec (with the exception of oil in Alberta and Hong Kong investment in BC)? What role did regional development policy have on this decline?

If this stuff is not even on guys like Andy Scott’s radar – how will we ever figure it out? And what about the next big recession in Canada? What will that do to New Brunswick now that we are so exposed with our cheese in the wind?

One track mind but it would be interesting to hear Andy expound on this.