We pause for a day this week to mark the birth of our nation on July first, 1867! The break comes as "A Mari Usque Ad Mare", governments at all levels shovel out the cash to boost the so-called economic stimulus programs.
Why some wags even wonder out loud how doling-out tens of thousands of dollars for free concerts at Ottawa jazz and blues festivals can possibly be helpful to the economy...Pshaw! The Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure, responsible for the stimulus programs, John Baird, is the Capital Region's rep in Cabinet.
And...truth be told, apparently sometimes (Just some times mind you), "politics are a factor when supporting businesses." The revelation, refreshing as it is, has a New Brunswick Cabinet Minister in hot-water, and wishing he'd said something else. The candid comment is attributed to, Victor Boudreau, Minister for Business New Brunswick; who, no doubt pressured by journalists, conceded a few days ago that politics sometimes plays a role in deciding which financially troubled business to help-out.
Down east, New Brunswick's provincial government has made several dubious loans and loan guarantees to help stave-off Armageddon in some northern communities. In the wake of spectacular failures, the government of Premier Shawn Graham is being criticized, in particular for a $40-million loan to Fraser Papers, a company now in bankruptcy. (See - "Farewell To The Industrial Revolution", June 22/09)
In the government's defence, Minister Boudreau, says the process of providing loans and loan guarantees to companies is not taken lightly. He claims that forensic accountants pore over business plans to ensure that the investment is viable and has a good chance of success...But: extenuating circumstances are also considered and might result in... "political considerations overriding financial advice". The Minister says more than 85% of New Brunswick's government investments are repaid successfully.
On the eve of our national celebrations, the Minister's candor is refreshing and should be cause for others to pause, ponder and follow. Doubtless Sir John A. Macdonald would have wanted it that way.