This has been a completely nutty election but nothing made me laugh in despair more than page 26 of the Government’s Pre-Election Economic and Fiscal Outlook: 2014-15 to 2017-18.
This document was publicly released by the Department of Finance months before the election, to provide all political parties with the financial information they needed to help shape and cost out their election platforms.
It explains New Brunswick’s level of debt, breaks down government spending and revenue, provides an economic outlook on various economic sectors and analyzes New Brunswick’s performance relative to the rest of the country.
At the very end is a section titled “Rules of Thumb” for the Costing of Election Commitments. Awesome, I thought. Finally an extensive list that outlines our spending priorities. You know, the stuff that matters. I scrolled down in anticipation, looked at the chart, and read the first line.
“Wildlife fencing per kilometer of fencing.”
What? Moose fencing? That’s what we’ve got at the top of the list? Frickin’ moose fencing?!?!?!
So then I looked at the next item on the list.
“Brush cutting per kilometer.”
So we can see the moose better, presumably.
Sigh. What’s next?
Road construction per kilometer – grading and paving (excluding structures; costs can increase depending on the design, land requirements, condition of terrain, etc.)
Arterial (highways #’s 1-99), 4-lane with interchanges
Collector (roads #’s 100-199), 2-lane
Local (roads #’s 200-299)
The rest of the list costs out increasing funding to municipalities, universities and NBCC; building new hospitals and nursing homes; increasing salaries to teachers and home care workers; raising welfare rates; providing support to autistic preschoolers and lowering the teacher/student ratio.
Oh and it also costs out keeping the heat on in schools and plowing the parking lots after it snows.
“This selection is by no means exhaustive and cannot cover all potential commitments,” states the report.
The picture this list paints is not of the place I want New Brunswick to be.
This list is for a place that is out of step with where the world is going.
A place that doesn’t recognize how technological innovation is changing the way we live and work and deliver public services.
A place that does not realize that wealth creation is driven by vibrant urban centres that work in tandem with adjacent rural regions to maximize the value of our natural and human resources.
This is a list for a province out of time. And I am out of patience.
Lisa Hrabluk is the founder of Wicked Ideas. Follow her on Twitter @lisahrabluk.
Wicked Ideas’ 2014 election series is financially supported, in part, by the New Brunswick Business Council. Wicked Ideas retains full editorial control of all content and members of the New Brunswick Business Council are not consulted or informed of Wicked Ideas’ content prior to publication.