Hard habit to break

Was it Chicago that used to sing “you’re a hard habit to break”?  

We have a new political party in New Brunswick and their economic development policies sound (and act) just like the other two parties.

The People’s Alliance of New Brunswick economic development ideas are:

-Privatize the liquor corp.

-Turn BNB into an organization more focused on small business exports

-Give more tax breaks to small business owners/investors

-Cut tax rates for new business start ups

C’est tout.

When you read the narrative, they cite the CFIB so I guess we don’t have to go far to see the influence.

Another wall to beat my head against. 

There is nothing wrong with public policy to try and support small business but there has been an army of bureaucrats supported by dozens of programs to support small business over the past 25 years (BNB, CBDC, ACOA, SEED, young entrepreneur, female entrepreneur, on and on) and what has that got us?   25 years ago New Brunswick’s population was rising, now it’s stagnant.  Northern New Brunswick was stagnant, now it is in fairly steep decline. 

We have more microbusinesses in our economy than most other provinces and fewer large businesses (over 300 employees).

Despite talk from government for decades, 95% of all our exports are from a few large firms – oil, forestry, minerals and fish.  Throw in McCain’s and that is almost all exports from the province.

A new party should have new ideas.  Quite frankly, they could have gone far left  – at least that would be original.  All of these ideas have been tried.  Bernard Lord cut small business taxes to the bone and both the PCs and the Libs gave tax breaks for investing in small biz. 

As for BNB, 95% of its effort is focused on small businesses under 100 employees.  I don’t have the exact figures but I am almost sure this is the ratio.    The big firms only come to BNB looking for grants/loans.  All of the services – trade assistance, etc. are targeting the relatively small guys.  So the PANB is going to push that ratio to 98%?

As for reducing the amount of grants to industry, I don’t have a problem with this but a) it will end up being harder than they think.  Many of the small businesses they salivate over are the ones knocking on the door looking for grants, loans, loan guarantees, etc.    A tax break won’t help much if the bank demands a loan guarantee; and b) if they are moving off the grant model, what are they replacing it with?    Tax breaks.   If you add up all the businesses in New Brunswick and divide it into the total corporate income tax revenue the NB government collects every year you get about $4,000 in corporate income taxes paid per business in the province.

So why is the PANB anchoring its economic development policy on cutting that $4,000 down to $3,000?  How many jobs will be created in the average firm by cutting $1,000 out of the average corporate tax bill?

New ideas, folks, won’t come from reading CFIB circulars.

9 thoughts on “Hard habit to break

  1. In a way they DO have some ‘far left’ ideas (tho that term is pretty flexible). Namely, they talk about the community forest model. The reason the exports in lumber only come from a couple of large corporations is because they are the only ones with access to the resource. So in that they have a bit of a point.

    However, this is a VERY new political party. They know very little about economic development or making policy at all. All they see is the big dollars going to Irving, and the little guys struggling to get by. I’d recommend you contact them, perhaps get a little more involved with them because as you’ll notice, they use some of your blogs for ‘ammunition’. But again, for a new party, it would be suicide to state as policy the theme here: “we need more multinational corporations in New Brunswick to fix our economy”. That would be just plain nuts, and the other parties simply say “look, we’re TRYING”.

    What was interesting about their website is the large(r) number of women than I expected to see. They do seem to pay attention to your blog, and they are ‘outsiders’, so again, if people at the blog DO have some actual policy suggestions, its windows like this that help them happen. Usually it happens when fringe parties have a policy that gains momentum and so the other parties then steal it.

    If I were you I’d find out when their next policy convention or meeting is, or do up a youtube video or something and make a presentation. This is not a crowd well versed in policy making, at their website there’s even the point about community forestry models being “maybe something we could try”-which sounds very much like a VERY small group of people outlining policy.

    But like I said, I STILL can’t figure out any policy recommendations from this blog, so get used to banging your head…

  2. If they’re not well versed in policy making, then why are they running for election? Seriously now. I quite agree with Campbell here. If you want to make proposals for economic development, you have to get away from the well-worn and failed CFIB playbook.

  3. Wow, who here is NOT living in NB anymore?? I wouldn’t have thought I’d have to explain it, but its fairly obvious. I don’t even know where to start. Policy making is about the LAST reason why people run for office, let alone start a new party. There are so many reasons FOR it, that its impossible to say it quickly. Since this blog hasn’t had too many fans of the power protest, lets be cynical and point out two simple facts: several of those running were LOSERS in nomination races of other parties. Number two-NB MLA’s have the most generous pension plan in Canada and are amongst the highest paid. I suspect Mr. Campbell is in the same category with most small business people and can count on retiring when he’s 99.

    And seriously, Alward STILL hasn’t released any kind of energy platform, it was clear that the liberals started playing it by ear after lowering gas taxes-which turned out to be a HUGE blunder.

    In short, and seriously, why should this group be expected to be versed in policy making when the two historic governing parties seem to have no idea how to do it? As a commentor pointed out at CBC, the liberals had to hire outside the province for virtually EVERY aspect of the power deal, from accountants and lawyers to public relations. In other words, policy making seems to be an endangered species in NB (and again, nobody from this blog can complain about that since no policies have actually ever even been suggested-heck, at Charles blog years ago a group of homeless people had the Residential Tenants Act rewritten).

    And again, they don’t ‘have’ to get away from anything, if anybody HAD to get away from policy recommendations they would have done so long ago. Given that the owners of the multi national corporations that do business in NB don’t live there, and the small business that are members of CFIB DO, then I think the ‘have to’ is fairly obvious for a new political party.

  4. The difference is that the people in this party haven’t been corrupted yet like the majority in power.

    You should be happy that they’ve taken up some of the old ideas – you helped generate them over the years, no?

  5. If that platform is what they are planning on running on, then it sounds like the comments that the ‘new’ party is composed mainly of unhappy PCers are true. A gift for the Libs.

  6. There are actually failed nominees from BOTH political parties. Bethany Dykstra was a liberal who lost to Graham. However, the political spread in New Brunswick is VERY thin. As David pointed out when Graham took office, they rarely missed a beat. As has been noted before, the final deal with NBpower was practically for lepreau, and it was well known that Lord was actively trying to sell it.

    As with any new party though, the platform is typically very low key. It’s usually designed to fill up a document so there is something to be released. The complete platform won’t be released until July, and it has to be ratified first. I was surprised to see NB Liquor in there, after all, many in this party were NOT ‘irked tories’, they were people upset about the NBPower deal. That will be an odd sell to say “we want public ownership to stay public….err, well, except NB Liquor…that’s ok to privatize”. Although consistency has never been a hallmark of any political party.

  7. your article on the number of civil servants or those on government payroll was way of the mark. My estimate is that at least one in three employed people in new brunswick is working directly for the government. There are groups like the mounties and armed forces and support workers whom are seldom counted, there are all the municipal employees who are very difficult to count and then there are people like the public defenders and contract prosecutors. I have not bothered to look at the non profit agencies that are totally funded by governments or universities. I can be reached at [email protected] if anyone wishes to explore this subject tom hickie

  8. “And seriously, Alward STILL hasn’t released any kind of energy platform”

    Well, he has gone to NFLD to kiss King Danny’s feet (at least, I hope it was his feet). Perhaps the King will instruct him on how to sucker us into paying for Lower Churchill – apparently Danny has not been too successful in getting anyone else on board.

    You’d think by now that Alward and this new party would have someting a bit more concrete to say re energy. After all, it was energy that breathed new life in Alward’s electoral prospects, and it was energy that provided the stimulus for the new party. Providing actual detailed policy options would be the straightforward thing to do.

  9. Mr. Hickie, I have looked at these numbers in detail. You say ‘directly’ for goverment and then you list occupations that aren’t directly working for government. In my article I say that government makes up about 1/3 of the total economy (GDP) and that’s where the rest of the indirect is picked up.

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