Do we need to change the message and the medium?

Donald Savoie makes another compelling argument in the T&T today that things need to change in New Brunswick but I think the message is increasingly falling on deaf ears.

I really think we haven’t thought through how the demographic shift has changed attitudes.

Compared to 1971, there are 127,000 fewer New Brunswickers under the age of 24 and 135,000 more over the age of 55. There has been a 38% drop in the number of people under the age of 24 and a 130% increase in the number of persons over the age of 55.

In 1971, there were more than 3.1 young persons (under 24) for every person over the age of 55.  Now, there are 0.8 persons under 24 for every person over 55.

It just seems to me a person’s outlook on the world fundamentally changes with age.  When you had a crush of young people coming of age in the 1970s and 1980s, they saw the world differently.   Their lives were ahead of them.  They were interested in career, family and passion development.

Now, the bulk of New Brunswickers are either retired or can see retirement in the hazy but relatively near future.   Their families are grown.  Many of the kids have moved away.

I think the message and the medium has to be different in the grey haired world compared to the dewy-eyed world.

How do you motivate a retired person on a full pension that we need more economic development – particularly when that economic development may mean some disruption to their lives?

Even folks that do not have income stability – they will still view the world through a different set of eyes than a 20 year old.

I spend a lot of time discussing these issues with young and old and among the general public there is no more a sense of urgency now than at any time in my adult life.  In fact, I remember much more concern over the economy back in the early 1990s but again, even just 20 years ago you had far more younger people than older people.


4 thoughts on “Do we need to change the message and the medium?

  1. All maritime provinces need to do a serious re-think on their immigration policies and the feds must also tweak their provincial nominee numbers upwards. Certainly here in Nova Scotia no one is talking about increased immigration to offset the “negative growth” in population we are experiencing (we lost 3,000 people last year), and it most definitely is not on the election radar of the three main parties, and is ignored my the mainstream media.

    Of course an increase of immigration requires a wide variety of meaningful and diverse employment opportunities, again something that is rarely spoken about in the rarified political circles that I inhabit.

    Mega projects promising unrealistic employment figures tempered with prefixes such as “up to…” and “as many as…” are far more certain vote getters than regional development and small scale stable opportunities that feed the sustainable growth of local economies.

    We often forget that there is no real provincial or federal economy. There are only local economies. A web of linked, strong local economies create a strong provincial and federal economy. Grand schemes that benefit one region and employment sector at the expense of others are of short term benefit with few lasting economic effects other than perpetuating a boom and bust cycle of unsustainable growth and recession, and the resultant government dependance.

  2. I”m not so sure about the seventies, that was the days of the energy crisis and ‘development’ certainly wasn’t embraced by young people. And again, go to Fredericton and there has been FAR more development in the last ten years than there probably was in the previous forty. I went to school in fredericton in the eighties and nineties, and it was pretty much as it had been half a century earlier.

    And I think you should rethink what you wish for. Go look at ANY city with large groups of young people and if anything there are far more anti development protests than pro. The arab spring are primarily young people, the occupy movement was primarily young people. I would agree that it would be GREAT to have large groups of young people because then some of the bonehead development moves would be rectified far more quickly. To counter your view, when Lepreau was announced, virtually NOBODY said anything about it, even though it was like government walking into your house and asking for a cheque-all to provide power to a decreasing population which has no need of it.

    Here in Ontario there is, albeit so far small but growing protest against ontario repeating NB”s mistake and spending billions to upgrade nuclear reactors. It may very well come to nothing, but the point is that it is there, and in NB I never heard a peep even though the public ombudsman asked some serious questions.

    I agree about the ‘passion’, but here’s the problem: a province where a recent report said over half of new graduates can’t pass basic literacy tests will have a hard time gearing up for the economics of the new millenium. We have a population who either beg the government for work or beg corporations for work because few people know how to MAKE work. And a knowledge economy certainly requires more than basic literacy. Apart from that, its hard in a province which has seen people like Irving make out like bandits to get excited about economic development. The perception, and it is getting increasingly closer to being true, is that with economic development a few people will make out well, while everybody else will pay the costs. Help change that equation and maybe you’d see more enthusiasm.

  3. I read an editorial in the paper the other day supporting shale gas exploration on the grounds that the NB economy is based on resource extraction. “It’s what we do,” said the editorial.

    Yet when we look at a chart like this, it becomes clear that “what we do” has resulted in 40 years of economic decline and failure. The opposition to the traditional models of economic thinking in this province (and not just fracking per se) are based on the knowledge that, if we do more of the same, the same people profit, and the rest of us, well, will just have to leave.

    Certainly that’s how I feel, after living in New Brunswick for 11 years. “The come-from-aways only support charities in their home provinces,” I read in the same newspaper, which has to be one of the most narrow-minded (and inaccurate) things I’ve read. That’s exactly what NB’s problem is. The same old thinking from the same old stooges defending the same old model that has resulted in 40 years of failure.

    As the previous commenter said, “its hard in a province which has seen people like Irving make out like bandits to get excited about economic development.” Period, end of story.

  4. I like how a PhD can say that since NB is getting older and we extracted some resources that it didn’t work. Looking at the graph shows that younger people leaving the province while older ones collect welfare and EI and fish part time clearly doesn’t work. Somehow we ignore the revenues that Alberta generates and that we mooch off of on a regular basis via transfer payments.

    I think the point of the article is to show that people with no interest in economic development can dictate what we do by their voting patterns. These are even people in university with a steady job or tenure, or retirees with a pension. They really don’t care about anyone else and want to keep the status quo.

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