Tag Archives: Freddy Beach

Altogether now

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Imagining that Moncton (“The Hub City”), Saint John (“The Port City”) and Fredericton (“Freddy Beach”) have it within their independent wheelhouses of determination to come together as one, driving urban force for New Brunswick is a little like conjuring the offspring of a duck-billed platypus and a giraffe.

Still, that doesn’t stop municipal mothers and fathers from occasionally musing about the good ideas that such a miracle of nature might produce. What say you, the apparent mayor for life of the province’s capital city, nestled along the flood plains of the mighty St. John River?

“We’re a small province and as I have always said, I don’t consider Saint John and Moncton to be the competition, and I don’t think they think any differently. It makes no sense to pull 25 jobs out of Saint John and move them to Fredericton or pull them out of Fredericton and move them to Moncton. It doesn’t do anyone any good. So, we need to make sure that we have our own little pockets to nurture.”

Those words from Fredericton Mayor Brad Woodside, courtesy of some nice reporting by the Saint John Telegraph-Journal’s John Chilibeck, amount to some of the funniest observations to issue from a local public official in many a tidal bore.

Really, Your Honour, wouldn’t it be more genuine to admit, despite your evidently good wishes, that none of the province’s major cities are at all prepared to join hands and screech kumabya at the top of their municipal voices simply because such a display of solidarity runs counter to time-tethered, shop-worn approaches to municipal development?

After all, the thing about having one’s own little pocket to nurture is that it naturally invites competition, especially when you’re counting on two other levels of government to help finance your commercial and economic aspirations.

Just as soon as Fredericton scores a big deal in the IT sector, Moncton whines about the fact that, infrastructure-wise, it’s a far “smarter” city than its “bland” and “white-bread” rival to the northwest. Dude, so not fair!

Just as soon as Saint John snags a deal with the feds to do. . .oh. . .anything, actually. . .Fredericton throws itself down on the tiles and pitches a fit. Mama, where’s my soother?

Still, Mayor Woodside may yet be in possession of a kernel of imagination on this matter. It may be possible, in fact, to forge a tri-city social and economic development agreement – one that leverages the strengths of each community for the benefit of all.

A multilateral agreement on infrastructure spending that keeps the highways and byways among these municipalities in the best shape possible (girded by a concerted and collective effort to negotiate with the provincial and federal governments) might be a productive start.

An all-city development board that spends its time examining ways to reduce the costs that each city shares in duplication, and explore ways to goose economic opportunity across the southern, urban swath of the province might also provide a sense of communitarian purpose.

Apart from this, though, the Sea Dogs and the Wildcats will forever battle for the sentiments of their respective fans. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. In fact, it’s inevitable. Within this context, though, we might still grow closer together.

So, what shall the new capital conglomerate be called? Greater Hubportbeach? Greater Portbeachhub? Greater Beachubport (pronounced: beech-a-pore)? I like the ring of that last one, if only because it drops an unnecessary consonant. You’re welcome, burgermeisters.

Dear me, can Maritime union be far behind?

What a miracle of nature that would be.

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Verbal jousting won’t cure what ails New Brunswick

 

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They may know next to nothing about forging policies that actually inspire confidence in the public peanut gallery. But when it comes to mud-slinging and spin-balling, our elected leaders are bonafide artistes, each deserving a standing ovation.

So it was on Wednesday, which marked the end of the current legislative season in New Brunswick. There in Freddy Beach, dutifully providing rounds of enthusiastic applause to themselves, were Tory Premier David Alward and Liberal Leader Brian Gallant, bending all kinds of truth to score political points.

Thundered the latter: “This government was quite busy breaking its promises. They made three key promises to be elected in the last election in 2010. They promised they’d balance the books, without cutting services and without increasing taxes. It’s obvious these three promises were broken. I’m asking the premier to explain to New Brunswickers how they are supposed to believe anything in their platform when they broke the three key promises in order to be elected in 2010.”

Rejoined the premier: “We would have thought with a least the recent policy convention we would have had some clear signs with where the Liberal party stood, but all we have is no vision at all. . .The future of New Brunswick is at stake. There hasn’t been a time in many years where the stark realities, the differences between parties, will be made more clear in the coming months. We know our young people want to have the opportunity to stay here in New Brunswick instead of having no choice but to go elsewhere.”

As for the not-quite-hidden agenda behind the political theatre this week, Mr. Alward confirmed, to the edification of exactly no one, that “elections matter. . .The reality is that this election more than any in the past will make the difference in the future of the province. We have a plan and we are dead-focused on that plan, moving forward with shale gas development, moving forward with mining, our forestry renewal and moving forward with a pipeline.” 

But if elections matter, these days they seem to matter matter less to the “future of the province” than they do to the make and model of the rowboat we choose to run aground on some shoal along the not far-off horizon. 

Moncton academic Richard Saillant sounds the alarm in his excellent new book, “Over the Cliff?”, regarding the province’s looming and interrelated fiscal, economic and demographic crises: “For several decades, New Brunswick’s economy has surfed on a rising tide of labour force growth, fuelled by the baby boom generation and the steady, largely successful march of women towards equal participation in the workforce. The tide is now receding, dragging down the economy. A new Age of Diminished Expectations is upon us.”

That’s not much of a campaign platform, but it does suggest one for either Mr. Alward or Mr. Gallant, should they actually put their rhetorical cannons away and level with the electorate for a change.

The requisite soliloquy might go a little like this:

“My fellow New Brunswickers, I come not to praise my record, but to bury it. “Clearly, we need to hit the reset button in this province. All of us, Conservatives and Liberals alike, have made costly mistakes. 

“We let the size of our public service balloon out of all proportion to its utility. We’ve wasted countless millions of dollars on failed economic development initiatives and corporate welfare. We’ve put too many of our eggs in one basket. We haven’t stuck to our knitting. And, if you will permit me one last cliche, I will make you one, and only one, promise going forward: No more promises!

“Now is not the time for verbal jousting, but for non-partisan collaboration across party lines. Now is the time for dismantling ‘politics as usual‘ and for working together towards hard, but commonsensical, fixes for our problems. 

“We must finally recognize that no one – not the federal government, not the money-market lords of Manhattan, not the foreign conglomerates of the world – is coming to our rescue. It’s all on us.

“It’s time we stop huffing and puffing at each other and get on with it.”

Ah, yes, some theatre – though it be pure fiction– can be marvelously inspiring. One might even say, worthy of ovation. 

 

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