The complacency caucus

In an article in the CH a few days ago Dan Leger wrote:

On Oct. 2, Brison gave a little-noticed speech to the Construction Association of Nova Scotia which could serve as a wake-up call to those who believe everything’s fine the way it is. It’s aimed at the provincial complacency caucus, which refuses to understand that our little almost-island is living beyond its means.

Complacency caucus. Its a nice term. [Complacency Council has a nice ring to it too. We’ll keep that in our toolbox.] And, as Leger points out, our populace is also sleep-walking which makes politicians lazy and unwilling to risk waking them up with disturbing news. Which is why Leger thinks Brison has been bold to say that we in NS can’t go on this way  [although he only said it to the Construction Association].

The details are not exactly secrets. They are there for any thinking man to see.

Offshore revenues currently contribute $400 million to the budget, but they are shrinking and will vanish altogether in 10 short years.

Government’s role in the economy is way too big. Federal spending accounts for 34.5 per cent of our total economic activity. Provincial public spending is equal to 30 per cent of our total gross domestic product of $29.2 billion. And people think we’re not dependent? [emph. ours]

Wasn’t Harper criticised for saying that?

With a total provincial debt of $13 billion, second highest per capita in Canada, the situation has become urgent. But there is no plan to deal with it beyond the horizon of the next election.

“The reality is, our situation is unsustainable.”

And no “honest public dialogue”, no ” public awareness” . The fiscal equivalent of fiddlling while Rome burns.  Only a few voices crying in the wilderness. Is Wolfville any different?

One wonders if Brison would have spoken up if there was  Liberal government in power, but skewering the NDP can’t hurt him. He made suggestions apparently. Privatising the NSLC, pay cuts to MLAs and wage control in the public service , a green energy corridor, bringing down provincial trade barriers and “streamlining regional bureaucracies by sharing services.”

That last one hits home doesn’t it? They have already done this in Ontario. The Councils of small towns have been eliminated, absorbed into a larger regional municipality. There are savings to be had but, in our view, often at the expense of the one small town which watched its budget but lost local control because of the greater number of nearby towns that didn’t.

But none of this is going to happen until people understand the kind of commitment it requires to get these things done. People need to know what’s really going on.

Brison feels that once they have that information, Nova Scotians will see that strong measures are needed to fix our fiscal house. They’ll see we can no longer bask in our complacent notion that seaside beauty and lifestyle make up for our economic inefficiency.

For too long, “we have ignored the reality that both our quality of life and standard of living are being eroded by economic irresponsibility, incompetence and political cowardice.”

We don’t doubt Brison means this, although we are unsure of his motives. Is he planning on running for Premier? In any case, Brison’s riding woud not be a bad place for people to take his warning to heart. Wolfvillians must wake up. We need to insist that Wolfville tackle its fiscal mess and not by raising taxes.

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5 responses to “The complacency caucus

  1. A politician exercises power by taxation and spending. When out of government, a politician will say what he/she can to diminish the power of his/her opponents in government.

    I might give Scott Brison a second thought if he were actually in government and still acted according to his fine words…

  2. The Federal Government also runs a debt equivalent to about $16,000 per Canadian. That’s higher than the provincial debt of about $13,000 for each of us NS-types. Then there is Municipal debt, about $800 for each Wolfvillian?

    Significantly, the last Town Budget states:
    “With current low interest rates and our capacity to borrow the Town should continue to consider long term debt to attract funding resources from both the Federal and Provincial governments.”
    So there you have it, the Town borrows to leverage further Federal and Provincial debt. Yes, Towns actively compete in the Borrowing Olympics with the expressed goal of driving the other levels of government (really you and me) further into debt. It’s a farce! Never mind, when Mr Brison becomes PM, he will certainly put an end to such nonsense, right?

    This business whereby “projects” are funded by multiple levels of government is a perfect way to waste a wad of cash. Invariably, any requirement for merit becomes irrelevant as accountability is diffused and political triumphalism takes centre stage…

    Perhaps Mr Stead can convince Mr Brison to convince Mr Dexter to build us a Convention Centre here in Wolfville — just like that whack-job-deal they’re trying to swing for Halifax.

  3. Pingback: Convention centre – Hot topic | Wolfville watch

  4. The analysis provided, above, remains incomplete. To complete the picture, one should consider Canada’s current account and also the capital account.

    Our current account is in much better shape than for most other “developed countries”:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_current_account_balance
    Similarly, our capital account has, historically, been in good shape:
    http://www.tradingeconomics.com/canada/net-capital-account-bop-us-dollar-wb-data.html
    The ONLY reason that we are in this very favourable position is because of energy exports. But for the much maligned tar sands, and other things we dig out of the ground, we’d be in the same boat as our neighbours to the south (and the rest of the motley crew).

    So, yes, we can enjoy our fiscal-fantasy because our relatively small population density (there goes that “density” word, again) ensures that, on a per capita basis, we have a lot of valuable stuff that we can dig out of the ground and flog off.

  5. if you read the advertiser nov 4 ,pg 4 from the cruiser -me putting out my letters in wolfville made it to the paper.It read-copys of letters scalding k.c. councillors for not preserving farmland were left at wolfville town hall. [SNIP]