What’s the next discussion Canada needs to have?

I wrote a column a few weeks back lamenting the fact the Globe & Mail didn’t put regional development on its list of “discussions we need to have” as a country.   Now the Globe is back with “the next discussion Canada needs to have” in the form of a poll and these are the options:

  • The future of First Nations
  • Climate and environment
  • Urban transit
  • Changing the electoral system
  • Ending poverty
  • The future of higher education
  • Caring for seniors
  • ‘Right-sizing’ government
  • The future of jobs
  • Foreign aid

It would seem to me that a ‘discussion’ Canada needs to have should be one that has national implications.  It should be a discussion that resonates nationally.  

I realize I’m a bit of a one trick pony here but it would seem to me that regional development should be a ‘national’ discussion.  If you think about the frenzy that equalization and transfers is whipping up in the west.  If you remember McGuinty’s ‘fairness’ campaign and the changing of transfers to ‘per capita’.  If you think about the fact that Atlantic Canada has slipped into population declined for the first time since Confederation. 

Regional development is a fundamentally national issue.  No matter where you stand on the debate, having one rather large region of the country slipping further and further behind should be a matter worthy of discussion at least to the level of ‘foreign aid’ or ‘urban transit’.

5 thoughts on “What’s the next discussion Canada needs to have?

  1. Interesting that the Globe doesn’t think ANY environmental issues should be a ‘national discussion’. Nor anything to do with corporate welfare, telecommunications, or how to actually PAY for any of those discussions. I”d be more concerned except…..were ANY ‘discussions’ held on the last batch of topics the Globe thought should be a ‘national discussion’. Maybe by ‘national’ they meant their own letters to the editor section.

  2. FDR was once quoted as saying that he was not guided by “the iron dictates of ideology” when making tough decisions but rather the pragmatism of what he called “bold persistent experimentation.” If one thing didn’t work, he said, try another thing; but surely to God you must try something. I think such a strategy would make those in Ottawa who govern daily by polling data and legislate only for political gain a bit nervous. But you’re right David, our regions failures should be addressed so that some day we are not burdens to the overall national picture, but an asset making the country stronger and wealthier.

  3. What’s the next discussion Canada needs to have? Answer: “What comes after fossil fuel?” This covers pretty much the entire array of socio-development issues, from transportation to technology to healthcare.

    I’ve just been surfing through a few of your posts, and a recurrent theme might be “equity”, especially as it relates to NB development. As a perennially depressed region, we’re like the poor kid that can’t compete with its taller, wealthier, better educated neighbour across the tracks. In other words, success breeds success. We have government, in theory at least, to redistribute these inequities

    But to get these government instruments working, it takes a passionately vocal response from the electorate.

    Since moving to NB seven years ago I haven’t seen a lot of that. Instead, I’ve seen a lot of polite people caught in a very vertical society, which is quite willing to “eat its own young.” In other words, suppress and cannibalize innovation to benefit of a few dominant players. The Enbridge Gas monopoly is one example. The Irving conglomerate is another.

    I think the biggest problem in New Brunswick, with isolated exceptions, is social. This is a low-trust society overly influenced by a handful of well- and cross-connected autocrats.

    So, short term profit streams for existing corporations takes precedence over long term planning. I agree with Scott’s reference to FDR. A traitor to his class he was motivated to look beyond ideologies, whether right or left, and come up with lasting solutions for his country’s economic woes.

    Unfortunately, the US is more concerned with the health of its financial markets than it is for the health of its citizens, let alone the health of the planet.

    Back to the fossil fuel premise: everything we do our post-modern global economy is tied to fossil fuel, including growing social inequity in English-speaking countries. New Brunswick needs to join those regions, such as Scandinavia, that are willing to build creative, egalitarian, horizontal societies capable of focusing on the three main essentials: energy, environment and enterprise.

    That’s a tough discussion to get going in Canada today, with its increasing indexing into the American paradigm. My apologies for the ramble. Check out my blog, drop me a line. Interested in meeting fellow development collaborators out here… Cheers, -G.

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