Some folks, notably the Times & Transcript (surprise surprise) believe that any attempt to have a more rational approach to municipal government in this province is an attack on rural New Brunswick.
That’s hogwash. The Finn report was a sensible report with an interesting approach that should have been at least considered rather than shelved within 30 minutes of publication. As Finn rightly pointed out, we have had dozens of reports over the years on a more sane model and have done nothing about it. Why are New Brunswick politicians so afraid and gutless to make any change that might cause even a bit of political pain?
To Al Hogan I say this. The current model of LSDs, tiny municipalities, economic development agencies not coordinated with planning agencies not coordinated with infrastructure plans with no political power and – for much of the province no real local government at all – is a failure.
We lack a fundamental ability to try and solve things creatively. For guys like Al Hogan it always comes down to a cash grab – trying to squeeze more property taxes out of rural citizens (does Al live in an LSD?). Instead of looking at the longer term issues – all well laid out in the Finn report – it becomes an exercise of red herrings.
Newsflash. New Brunswick is a backwards province. We could be a model for effective urban/rural development. We could be a model for innovative approaches to urban/rural health care, economic development, education, service delivery but instead we get mired in the same old crap that has held us back for a century.
New Brunswick will never become a self-sufficient province. Will never be a place where people want to move to. Will never get over its giant and generations old self-confidence problem if we can’t make even the most basic changes like how we do local government. Take a look across Canada. New Brunswick and Newfoundland are the only two provinces with such a frigged up system of local government. All others have a more serious approach.
I’m not saying the report should have been accepted lock, stock and barrel. There were things that I didn’t agree with and would have tweaked. But to get the ball rolling it would have been a great starting point.