Yes. No. Maybe. Voters undecided about who they trust to govern New Brunswick
BY DENNIS ATCHISON
March 13, 2020
Dear Rest of Canada,
It is Friday the 13th, and we are in the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic as it moves through little New Brunswick, Canada, and the United States. Our provincial headlines mirror the national story line of preparedness, basic information, and what is happening other places.
It does not look good for our cousins south of our border. Almost all media carry the same theme – the United States is not set up, nor is it prepared, for what is happening to their citizens.
Meanwhile, a smaller province like New Brunswick may have some advantages. We are quite rural – some 48 per cent of us live in rural communities. Even our biggest “cities” do not qualify as cities by national standards, so our population centers are small and accessible that way. We are over in the corner of the country, so to speak, not a high volume of people traffic here compared to the rest of Canada.
But … like the rest of the country … we know how to panic, and be influenced by news which has little if any relevance to us. Witness toilet paper! Maybe our aspirations to be the same as big cities like Toronto or Boston (the U. S. influence is very strong in English New Brunswick). So, despite having great information, being on-time with actions, being isolated (relatively) almost by design… how is it people in our province run out and empty the stores of toilet paper??? Makes no sense.
But it is … it has happened. So it goes …
Another dimension of our little province is the lack of media, and what media we have often is occupied with “telling” us what is happening, heavy they are on personal opinion and interpretation. To be blunt, it is not a good thing to do this to a citizenry.
Witness the recent announcement of our provincial budget. Now remember, we have a four-way minority government, the first time in over one hundred years. So, it figures to get a budget done much talking, negotiating and to-an-fro had to happen. But, they did get it done.
But how do our media report it? All of it slanted to dysfunction, government going to “fall”, the opposition parties “out for blood” and especially “votes/support being bought”. Always the media cover the minority situation as an impending doom scenario. They do this by choice. The question is why?
What is really happening is 49 Members of the Legislative Assembly (MLA) are slowly and surely figuring out how to govern cooperatively. Aside, and quite separate from media coverage, a lot of positive things are beginning to take shape, the most significant being with the province’s financial circumstance… which required a good degree of cooperation to achieve.
We are a small, somewhat insulated, relatively immobile province which may be arriving at the right spot, at the right time, in the right way. We should be able to endure the COVID-19 moment well, and an emergent cooperative government may gently be taking shape.
Two good signs in anticipation of a challenging future.
Bye for now from New Brunswick… be good.
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