MacDougall as Pollyanna

The Green Party’s Jack MacDougall has a good op/ed in the TJ this morning entitled “What will we leave to our grandkids?”  He muses about the world his new grandson Oscar will find in New Brunswick when he is 57.

The real question is not about winning an election but about delivering a message of hope – that all of the things I dream for Oscar can come true. We can stop clear-cutting forests now and re-evaluate our forestry practises; we can begin to clean our air; we can begin to start paying our bills; we can begin to build clean public transit infrastructure; we can begin a 25-year debt elimination plan; we can liberate our youth by making education affordable and meaningful; we can grow the arts in every small community in New Brunswick; we can save family farms, grow healthy food, make things again, readjust our society as to set an example to the world of what can be achieved with a green vision.

He concludes with:

Oscar will have a great life as I rest in peace.

This is what I spend the better part of my days thinking about and like just about every variation on this vision – MacDougall doesn’t provide any strategy/pathway to making his vision a reality.  It sounds good but that tends to be the problem. With all the little NB slogans politicians throw around, very few are grounded in any kind of reality.

How would MacDougall generate economic value from the forests?  It’s easy to take a Conservation Council position and clamp down on cutting trees but how does he propose to fulfill the rest of his promises?  He talks about a 25-year debt elimination plan.  Where is the economic development pathway to make this happen?  He talks about making education ‘affordable’ and ‘meaningful’.  The New Brunswick taxpayer (and the Alberta taxpayer) already pays subsidizes something like $40,000 worth of costs over a four year university degree.  How much more does he want the taxpayer to pick up and where would it come from? 

He wants to save family farms and grow healthy food – I am actually more optimistic over the long term about this one for reasons I have mentioned before.

I think Oscar will have a great life but it won’t be tied to New Brunswick’s destiny.   Based on our current trajectory, he will either end up eleswhere in Canada or he will be part of something called the Maritime Province (or the Maritimes) which will be a single province that has been scaled back to a provider of natural resources to feed central Canada. 

My parents saw three of their four kids move away from New Brunswick yet never voted a single time with any consideration of the platform for economic development of the party.   It was always about health care or education or plain old party affiliation – or frustration over a single issue such as amalgamation or toll highways or whatever.

MacDougall needs to articulate how he is going to do something never done before – create an economic foundation in New Brunswick that is self-sustaining.  And, even harder, he needs to convince New Brunswickers that it matters.