Today's papers had good and bad things coming from the Liberal government. Fortunately, it was just "the good and the bad" not "the good, the bad and the ugly".
Francis McGuire who, though a partisan, I think is pretty well respected, and Gilles Lepage, who as far as I know is a non partisan, will head up the Self-sufficiency task force. They will also turn around a report by April which is pretty impressive. Neither of these men will take a salary or per diem pay which I think is admirable and all New Brunswickers owe them a thanks for doing this work for us free-of-charge.
It looks like they are coming out of the gate thinking outside of the box with planned e-consultations, blogs, etc, etc to get as much input from ordinary New Brunswickers as possible. I am a bit skeptical as we often hear this kind of hype only to be disappointed but I am cautiously optomistic.
McGuire seems to have a very strong focus on getting New Brunswickers wages up to the Canadian average which is the antithesis to earlier economic growth plans which used lower costs as a means to attract businesses to the province. I am very curious to see how they will approach this and what exactly they have in mind to drive up wages. I've always been of the view that our lower wages are offset by the lower cost of living - i.e. shorter commutes and cheaper housing - but perhaps this is not the case.
I am very much anticipating their work and will be actively participating on their website.
UPDATE: News release and website
As I mentioned before, I think that the Liberals should have honoured the HST/home heating rebate scheme of the Tories, even though I think it was bad policy and that the Tories misled New Brunswickers when they announced a program that even months later they had not prepared for. Why? Because they said during the election campaign that they would and you should try to live up to your promises. I am a bit torn on this because I always faulted Lord for removing the tolls from the highway because it was bad policy and he should have stood up and said "I promised this but it was a mistake, I didn't have all of the facts but I now see it would be wrong for New Brunswick to remove these tolls and I won't do what is wrong for New Brunswick."
The Liberals however have avoided making a similar statement. They should not have promised the HST rebate, but they did. They should have done as they have and not enacted it (it is unfair to call it "cancelled" as the program was not even planned, let alone implemented by the Tories), but in doing so, they should have apologized for their earlier promise.
Anyway, I got a bit off of my planned topic. Finance Minister Victor Boudreau is promising a sad budget. From the headline in the Times & Transcript... "Provincial tax hikes possible".
Boudreau makes a very good point when he says, "I have not yet met one individual who has volunteered to pay more taxes, but yet everybody wants more services, more infrastructure and more programs." He is absolutely right, the taxpayer cannot have it both ways. And the government should find some kind of combination of decreased expenditures (cuts) and increased revenue (likely though tax hikes) rather than face a deficit and increase the province's already far-too-high debt. However, that is never a pleasant experience for the province.
I am sad to find myself in agreement with the civil service union, but they make a very good point that 3000 jobs have already been cut since 1992. Assuming this number is accurate, and the total civil service is barely twice that number, then that is probably not the best place to look for cuts. Not surprisingly, Jeannot Volpé thinks that is the first place to look for cuts. No wonder the Liberals swept the Fredericton area.