New Brunswick's new social spending choices

The minister said business leaders will run the arms-length agency rather than bureaucrats because they have the expertise and experience required to foster growth in the province.

We're in the dark, post-election period down here. Traditionally, new New Brunswick governments "discover" that we're in too severe a financial crisis for them to make good on their election promises. Instead they learn, to their sorrow and dismay, that they have to cut social services (called "fat" or "out of control spending" by a helpful media) and raise taxes. This time they're also in a hurry to hand spending decisions and/or pots of money over to carefully appointed businessmen.

Meanwhile, the rest of us will hunker down, worry about our jobs and our families, and wait for the end of the second year, when the party in power begins thinking about how to get re-elected.

It's that last bit - the money being handed to business - that really knocks the wind out of me. I can deal with an administration that says we need to cut costs and reduce the scope of government - even if it does turn their whole election platform into a lie.

But there's no excuse for them to then create an "arm's length" corporation charged with investing in business ventures. If we can't afford human welfare, we can't afford corporate welfare. If we can't provide social services, we can't provide commercial services.

And although these 'business leaders' may or may not be experts - though I think the state of the province raises some serious questions about their competence - they are also unelected private citizens with their own agendas, political views and commercial interests.

It's the dark, post-election period, and now Winter's coming on.


Anonymous said...

I think the "surprise" of not being able to fulfill promises is partly related to what I am told is a provincial tradition of voting people out rather than voting people in. Focusing on "out" prevents demands for a coherent platform and a critique of it. Then the "winner" can express dismay at the state of things and the people later can claim disappointment and vote 'em out.

Wendell said...

That may be, but I'm not sure it explains why the province's economic state changes so drastically immediately following an election.

Of course, the economics don't really change - only the priorities. Two days in a row the NB media asked a lobby group in Halifax if they approved of the new budget. They didn't ask anybody who, you know, just lives in and works an ordinary job in New Brunswick. Apparently, now that the election's over, it doesn't matter what New Brunswickers think - at least, not to the TJ or the CBC.

We vote the best we can - urge our neighbours to vote as well - and then we wait to see what will happen to us.

No... I don't think it's because we focus too much on 'out'.