Benefits of the bus: Thoughts on partisans

Someone asked me this week what I thought about some of the government’s high profile appointments (and rumoured appointments).   I realize that Premier Alward said he would be ‘doing things differently’ just as former Premier Graham talked about ‘bringing in top talent’ from across Canada to help him implement the self-sufficiency agenda.

The truth is that governments – almost universally – will reward their biggest supporters in some way after they go from in the wilderness to the running the show.  There are few levers for them in a small place like New Brunswick so one of the most important are the top government jobs – Deputy Ministers,  crown corp heads, etc. 

While I fully applauded Graham’s idea to go out and bring in a few top guys/gals to help with the transformation (this is what private sector firms do all the time), I realize the political pressure.  These guys/gals are on the bus during the campaign and they are rewarded for it.   That makes some sense to me.  Besides, a new Premier and Cabinet are going to want people around they know and trust.

I guess my only criticism here is that these people in the top jobs – some with little or no experience in that specific area – should reach out to experts and folks who have been in similar jobs before.    They need to be people that consult broadly and get up to speed quickly on the main issues.

I remember – a while ago now maybe a decade – talking to a new top dog in an appointed economic development post and wondering at just how little they actually knew about how economies really grow.  This guy had visions of tiny mom-n-pops blossoming all over the province and stimulating massive economic growth.   When I explained the difference between jockeying for existing local markets (the bulk of business activity in any jurisdiction) and attracting in new market activity (exports) and the basic concepts of economic growth, he wasn’t very pleased.

So to those getting the top jobs, I think we need to pull together.  If their employees and stakeholders subtley sabotage them because they don’t like the choice what good will that do the province?  They earned their places at the table from party loyalty and sweat equity.

4 thoughts on “Benefits of the bus: Thoughts on partisans

  1. Aren’t you describing nepotism…rewards based on relationships and not merit? isn’t that universally considered a bad thing? I think you are too forgiving of a disgusting practice. Political contributions should not be rewarded with public funds.

    Meekly accepting stupidity because ‘that’s just the way it is’ is insane.

  2. You are not allowing for nuance. The people hired into these positions have been ‘on the bus’ but they would vigorously argue they are qualified. You might be right in your characterization of my view but what is the alternative? I wonder if there is any jurisdiction in the world where a new government will come in and hire all its senior people based on merit with no links to the administration? My primary point is that these appointees need to seek out advise from people who have been there before and who know the issues.

  3. I agree with Mike. Nobody should ever accept nepotism just because ‘other places do it’. This is actually quite funny because of Alwards choice of Soft Tissue Insurance Commission head-which is getting a lot of screaming comments at the CBC, maybe its what motivated this blog. It’s funny because as the CBC reports, Mr. Leger MAY have been involved in insurance fraud (emphasize MAY).

    Well, you gotta at least know something about insurance to commit insrance fraud, right?:)

  4. @David Campbell
    been busy with work, sorry for the late reply…

    I understand the nuance and I understand the point you are trying to make. I just feel that in this case idealism should win out over pragmatism. Competent leaders are needed if NB is to start making the changes it needs to.

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