Grand vision is okay but baby steps are critical

Call me cynical but I guess I have been around too long.  When I read this article this morning about the new Currie Center, a state-of-the-art multi-purpose sports facility that’s expected to attract top athletes and researchers to UNB, I nearly choked on my coffee.  The head of this centre’s vision?

Just as Silicon Valley in northern California became known for its concentration of successful technology companies, Jensen said, “what if New Brunswick was known worldwide for the healthiness of its citizens?

After years of promises like “worst to first” in education performance or “in the top four for R&D spending” or “self-sufficient by 2026” or any of the dozens of grand political promises that have come to naught, I want politicians these days to focus on moving the ball down the field first.

So when it comes to the healthiness of New Brunswickers, I’ll take a small incremental step forward as a positive move.  New Brunswickers are among the least healthy, least physically active in Canada.    To set a goal of a worldwide brand for healthiness is fine – but you have to start somewhere.

When it comes to sports, how about setting a target of one or two Olympic medals?    Is that too much?  How about one or two NHL stars?  And for those of you hanging on to Danny Grant, I am talking about in this millennium.

New Brunswick – across all walks of life – has focused on making sure everyone gets a little piece and no one really excels at much.  This applies to R&D, economic development, urban development, airports, sports funding, on and on.

I still remember a meeting – more than a decade ago – where a provincial minister groaned about 300 new jobs going to Moncton.  He said “this is likely going to cost me votes”.    In New Brunswick a good news story in one part of the province could cost a politician votes in another part of the province.

And you wonder why the divide and conquer mentality is so strong here?

Let’s start with baby steps – on education, energy, economic development, R&D, immigration, improving healthiness, sports excellence, whatever – before we start with the grand – and with history as a guide somewhat futile – visions.