Monday, August 20, 2012

Access to Education, A Debate Worth Having Part I

Why Free in 8 Works: 

A few weeks ago, the two leading Liberal leadership candidates released their plans for helping middle-class families afford post-secondary education. Both deal with an issue that has been neglected by a Conservative government that didn't even mention PSE in the budget, and that is to the credit of our party.

The two plans reveal stark differences in how the candidates see the challenge, though. And while some have bemoaned the fact that a serious debate has broken out, it is exactly the sort of debate Liberals need to have. After all, once chosen, a leader has vast power to determine party policy and dissuade public dissension. Now is exactly the time to know what values and beliefs leaders will bring to the job.

Free in 8: An idea for today's economy:

Mike Murphy has proposed a policy called "Free In Eight".  It is a pretty straightforward plan, combining the power of caps on debt loads with the strength of a repayment plan tied to income. Murphy establishes a set limit on how much debt a graduate can rack up ($24,000 for a 4 year degree), so that those with the greatest need will get bursaries to keep their debt down. He proposes that government then set an 8 year guarantee in place, establishing that a graduate will be free of debt in no more than 8 years, paying 10% of their income at most for student loans.

Murphy's plan is certainly one that is generally favored by liberal politicians. President Barack Obama is supporting such a model on the federal level in the U.S., citing the drag that the trillion dollars in student debt has become on the U.S. economy.  In Ontario, Liberal Premier Dalton McGuinty has made an income sensitive repayment plan and limits on total debt and repayment time one of his signature achievements.  And in British Columbia, Liberal Premier Christy Clark has also announced that government will be taking over interest and principalrepayments for students with high debts and low incomes.
"This is all great but Free in 8 Creates a disincentive to pay." Only it doesn't.
These programs all have similar methods of targeting assistance to those families with high debt and low incomes. An applicant must apply for repayment help using their tax returns and government will make the minimum payment needed to keep the student on track to get out of debt by the end. One reason governments are increasingly adopting the plan is because it is quite immune from abuse -- it ties assistance to the filing of an income tax return, and even at a maximum level of subsidy (about $3,000 per year) there would be no incentive for a graduate to avoid career experience and advancement just to get the subsidy. (And, frankly, Liberals have never been a party to oppose good social programs out of the fear a small minority will abuse them. That's more of a Rob Ford and Mike Harris thing).

The clever part of Murphy's proposal is that he also proposes to finally get tough with lenders to reduce the ridiculous premium they add to interest rates for student borrowers, which will greatly reduce government costs, and he has set his repayment plan numbers at a place where an average graduate's salary will require only a small but vital amount of help in the early years. Yet while ensuring the debt limits are guaranteed for all graduates requires a relatively modest amount of money (just under $3 million per year), he gets a lot of good out of a smart investment.

If you're still not convinced, here's three more points:

1.    Murphy's Free In 8 plan improves access.   

Post-secondary education remains a good investment. The average graduate, even one with a general bachelor's degree, is earning nearly $15,000 per year more than a non-graduate ten years out. The fact that it is generally a good investment doesn't mean there is no risk in taking on debt. And that risk is disproportionately scary to families with lower incomes -- study after study has confirmed that a $30,000 debt load is scarier to young people from lower-income backgrounds, and so a guarantee that if you make the smart choice we will help you will reassure many first-generation students to take a chance on university or college.

2.    Murphy's Free In 8 plan recognizes where the economy is going. 

Two out of every three new jobs requires post-secondary education, and graduates are twice as likely as non-graduates to stay employed throughout their careers. And if more job-creating employers need graduates, they won't set up shop in provinces with low graduation rates. In other words, the new graduate in my household won't find work in New Brunswick unless we raise our graduation rates. A debt guarantee is a targeted way to do just that.

3. Murphy's Free In 8 plan grows New Brunswick's economy. 

Put simply, having middle class families spending money in heir communities creates jobs. That's partly why Nobel-winning economists like Stiglitz and Krugman see income inequality as an economy killer -- if too much money is concentrated in the hands of those who can't possibly spend it all, the economic cycle dries up.  Having our new graduates delaying purchasing homes and starting families so they can send most of their money to Toronto banks to be invested in overseas hedge funds isn't creating jobs.  Reducing debt for new families frees up their dollars at exactly the income point where they are most likely to spend the savings with New Brunswick businesses and jump start the economy that's stalled under Alward.

So, I like Murphy's plan because, like most liberal governments, I find it's an affordable way to increase confidence of deserving students, stimulate our economy and keep young families here.

This is why Free in 8 works. Come back Wednesday for the second installment of this three part essay: Defending Free in 8 from Friendly (Right Wing) Fire.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Statement on the Leadership Race

Earlier today, I announced that I will not be entering the race to lead the Liberal Party of New Brunswick.

I remain committed to raising the issues around jobs, equality of opportunity and social justice that my team believes are key to renewing our party and restoring hope for New Brunswick. It has been wonderful for everyone on the team to see the response to our ‘campaign of ideas’.

We came to the campaign determined to put ideas first, and to stay true to the principle that the identity of the next leader of our party wasn't as important as the urgent need to bring our party back to liberal values and its historic role as a voice for the underdog and an advocate for middle-class families.

Two things have contributed to my decision today.

First, having had a few weeks to campaign full out for the job, I am now convinced that my work and family commitments would make it very hard for me to put in the time needed for an all out, sustained campaign.

More importantly, the debates and events of the campaign have allowed me to feel confident that the ideas and values we’ve fought for have a home with one of the other campaigns.

Because of this, I am endorsing Mike Murphy for Leader of the Liberal Party of New Brunswick.

In the last weeks, it has become evident to me that Mike and I have been talking about similar issues – the need to bring our party back to liberal values, the importance of offering specific ideas and clear alternatives to the Alward government, and the imperative to have a party that is not run by backroom advisors.  He has made it clear that he supports many of the ideas our campaign has raised regarding jobs, poverty and the economy.

Mike has shown that he can be a champion of liberal values and he is committed to a renewed Liberal Party that is open, inclusive and responsive to people. I know Mike well and I have worked well with him in the past on many social justice issues and legislation. Mike has the ability and the determination to not just to win the next election, but also to lead a government that offers a real difference from the rudderless Alward government.

Only Mike has run with a commitment to making his ideas and values clear, and this gives Liberals confidence that he, and not the backrooms, will lead and be accountable to citizens and party members. I respect all three of the leadership candidates, but on clear ideas and proven experience, there is a decisive difference, and that difference favors Mike Murphy.

I want to thank all those party members, new and old alike, who joined this campaign to promote the new ideas in which we believe. I urge all those who have answered the call for a more progressive Liberal Party to join me in supporting the candidate who has made a clear commitment to Liberal principles and specific liberal ideas and policies - Mike Murphy.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012


A central part of our campaign has been about simple fairness. I grew up in a place where if you worked hard and followed the rules, you could succeed. That was always the unspoken promise of our community, and something every child could count on. For too many of our fellow citizens, that hasn't always been the case. Sometimes, if you grow up poor, there are barriers. If you work hard and go to college or university, and you don't find a job right away, the debt sinks you. If you're on social assistance and you start work, you can lose help with housing or child care or health care. If you're poor and try to save money by sharing expenses, you get investigated and penalized. Sometimes, people with power make new rules all the time and you get punished for not checking all the rules first, so that you learn to stop trying to do anything at all. Meanwhile, jobs that offered passage into the middle class are disappearing and people are losing hope. That's why jobs and fairness are the big themes of the town halls we're doing, starting tonight in Saint John. I'll report back on what I heard. But I also will be offering some ideas to start debate tonight, and I'll post them here for your feedback as well. Let's get poverty reduction back on track. Funny story -- when I got named Social Development Minister, one of the first speeches I gave was in Saint John where I stated that, while we had a full engagement process that had to be completed, I wanted to see big changes in how we deal with poverty. One policy I targeted was the economic unit policy, a mean piece of work that punishes people in poverty for sharing expenses. I said I would be pushing to scrap it. When I said that, an Opposition Leader named David Alward said this "If the Minister was really committed to getting rid of that policy, he could have get rid of it today." Well, at the end of the consultation process we did indeed agree to scrap it. While we were drafting a new policy, we gave a ministerial direction to the civil service that the policy should not be applied to anyone but traditional dependent relationships (like minors living with parents). Over 1000 people were exempted, and the policy was to be drafted by January 1, 2011. Apparently, the exemptions have ended, and the new policy hasn't been seen or mentioned. Yet keeping this promise would cost less than the tax break for second homes, and might save money by helping people on social assistance save money for things like clothes and transportation to help them find work. So, Mr. Alward, read your words above. And keep them. 2. Let's try new solutions -- like social entrepreneurship. President Barack Obama has begun funding social entrepreneurship models in states with poverty reduction plans. The idea is simple -- if there are social problems in communities that government hasn't solved well, such as stubborn illiteracy, or homelessness, or addiction rates -- the per capita funding is offered to community groups who take the challenge on. They agree to a goal and a deadline (example...these 200 homeless clients will have jobs and homes in 18 months). If they deliver, they are eligible for more funding to help more people. If they don't improve on what government did, they lose. Government still ensures equal funding in all regions, language of service, and oversight. In many cases, old ways are failing vulnerable let's bring new leadership to the table. 3. Reform how we treat people in poverty. Lifting people out of poverty and in to work means that government has to be more than just a source of auditing people. A lot of people living in poverty speak of the dehumanizing process of getting help -- of constantly being treated as if you're trying to hide money or get away with something. Anyone who's ever had a small monthly cheque cut in half because someone discovered a government error in the past they have to clawback knows what it's like to be at the mercy of arbitrary rules. And this doesn't help people get work -- it teaches them to be helpless. Social workers don't like to be auditors either. Let's change the rules to put people first. Start measuring which offices to the best job helping their clients get work, get their kids to school, and conquering health problems. Reward front-line staff for helping, not just auditing. And I'm going to propose we introduce the Dr. Pam Coates Law (because it was her idea and she knows of what she speaks) -- every Social Development office should have a client advocate present always to help people get heard in the process. The Advocate is someone who's qualified, but who also knows what it's been like to live on social assistance. Just so people know when they come in, they do have a right to be heard, to be helped and be humanized, because they matter. 4. Help kids in care. Over 600 children live in care of the Minister of Social Development, and their risks for dropping out of school, being victims of violence and living in poverty as adults are higher than average. Here's one thing we could do to help -- help give them some savings for when they start life as adults, just as many of us had the security of a helping hand from parents when we were young, in debt, and starting out. For less than what it cost to reinstate vehicle registration reminders, we could have a program like Pennsylvania's where kids in care get their summer job savings matched each year, and also get help with job finding and career mentoring by private sector partners. It's one way to level the playing field for kids who need help. That's a few ideas. And I can't wait to hear more tonight.

Monday, April 23, 2012


By now, readers of this blog will know that our campaign believes that jobs and hope should be the central issue for Liberals in the next election. The Alward Conservatives released, as far as I can remember or have been told, the only budget I've ever seen that admits right in its text that the budget will cause higher unemployment and slower economic growth. It has never been clear to me how Conservatives believe a deficit gets reduced when fewer people work and companies make less money and thus all pay fewer taxes -- but at least they are honest that they are willing to slow the economy and kill jobs as a tenet of their economic plan. We should celebrate these moments of honesty from them, as it is a welcome change from the campaign past and likely the campaign to come. Last month our campaign released a jobs plan that could be funded strictly by using existing funds in a smarter way. Now, let's get the debate started on a new way to prevent unemployment without adding to the deficit. It's time for a new approach to Employment Insurance, and a new partnership with the federal government. One of the other candidates, Mike Murphy, has been calling for a stronger assertion of our interests with Ottawa, and on several planks of his platform we agree, such as protecting Old Age Security. (I cannot rate Mr. Gallant's policy in this regard as he has said he wants to delay policy debates until he becomes leader, but I will say that before we give a leader and his advisors the power to make the final call on policy, candidates should give you some sense of which ideas and values they are hearing that they like and dislike. Parties have gotten into trouble electing a tabla rasa only to find out later which people the leader is listening to). That said, it is high time that New Brunswick make the Employment Insurance surplus a key issue before that surplus is whittled away in the tired debate between increasing benefits and cutting premiums. The real problem with both approaches is that help only arrives once people have lost their job. But an even better way to insure against unemployment is to keep it from happening in the first place. If New Brunswick asked Ottawa to return half of our share of the Employment Insurance surplus, we could use it to establish a Life Long Learning Fund. Here's how it would work. If you've paid into EI and made no claims in five years, you can use some of the money to upgrade your skills. It could be adding a certification in a trade, go toward a part-time degree program that will open up new opportunities, or even to literacy or second language training if that makes you more employable. Like EI, the LLF would work on a cost-recovery basis. The old way of looking at education was that you went to school, graduated at 18, chose the program that got you into the career you wanted, and by age 22 school was just a thing you looked back upon fondly in yearbooks. Today, that just isn't so. If you looked at the ten most recruited jobs in 2008, seven of them didn't even exist in 1998. That's how quickly skills can change. And New Brunswick has a lot of employees who are in jobs that made good financial sense when they took them, but now are at high risk of vanishing. We have too many families who live in daily fear of the nightmare economic scenario -- you're in your late 40s and your job disappears, you're not trained to do anything else, and you owe money on a home in a town where property values are falling. Employment Insurance is about trying to solve that problem once you are there--and it often fails to do that. The LLF would allow people to avoid it altogether. Adopting a Life Long Learning Fund would make us more competitive in attracting jobs as well. Companies with long-term growth strategies like to set up shop in provinces that make a commitment to skills that adapt to the pace of economic change today. Adopting a job-friendly agenda isn't about raising spending. Like the jobs plan we've proposed,the LLF is about using money that's already in the system smarter. The Alward government wants us to believe that New Brunswick has lost 5000 jobs under their watch because money is in short supply. In fact, most jurisdictions in Canada have seen employment rebound in spite of deficits. It's creativity that is truly in short supply under this government -- and Liberals can win when we offer a real alternative.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

A Micropolitan Plan For New Brunswick

If we had a smart economic development strategy for rural New Brunswick, what would it look like?

It wouldn't look at all like what we've been doing for twenty years, that's for sure. Governments have spent millions chasing white elephants, offering huge subsidies to lure industries to towns they normally wouldn't even look at. We take money from taxpayers to put bagel factories or yarn factories or hockey stick factories in a town where they willl barely stay longer than it takes politicians to cut the ribbon.

The result is usually a factory that stays until the subsidies run out, then heads off to the highest bidder elsewhere, usually outside Canada.

What if, instead of looking for one magic bullet to create 100 jobs in Doaktown or Perth or Paquetville, we asked how 50 businesses can each create two jobs by meeting the markets that exist there naturally?

I just described the micropolitan movement-- the approach that gives small cities and towns the power to grow by rebuilding their Main Streets by giving local entrepreneurs the tools to create small businesses that meet local needs, and to create local cultural and tourism industries that make their town distinct. Rather than look to lure grantrepreneurs, micropolitan leaders seek to support entrepreneurs.

Mactaquac in Fall
In this approach, New Brunswick doesn't aim to be Toronto Jr. Rather, our small cities, towns, villages, rural areas, and natural vistas should be seen as assets, as strategic advantages in promoting job creation and economic growth. We should be confident of who we are and of the quality of life advantages New Brunswick offers.

In my campaign's jobs plan – which I've suggested Liberals should introduce in the Legislature immediately after our convention – I have outlined the proposal for a “one more job” small-business summit, with the aim of creating 26,000 jobs for the 26,000 small businesses in this province. This would amount to an investment in local entrepreneurs throughout our province’s cities, towns, villages, and rural areas, revitalizing these communities through local businesses, and create an opportunity for networking and mentorship for entrepreneurs.

It's also time for the creation of a capital bank which would include micro-credit for new entrepreneurs – “indie capitalism” – to encourage the creation of new business enterprises in our communities. This would mean the creation of new businesses and jobs from Caraquet to Edmundston, from St. Stephen to Woodstock to Sackville, chosen through the acumen and leadership of private sector and community leaders, not politicized grants.

We have already heard of the benefits of buying and eating locally – this has economic benefits to local farmers and ecological benefits in reducing transportation costs. We must add to this the need to “invest locally” so that buying and eating locally becomes more viable.

The reforms I would propose for Business New Brunswick would include an entrepreneurship desk to provide private sector lenders networks across the province, as well as the facilitation of business mentorship for new entrepreneurs and access to angel investors. Providing this help to small business is essential to revitalizing communities throughout New Brunswick based on their own unique advantages, building on the strengths of local entrepreneurship, community enterprise aimed at building up New Brunswick’s communities.

In addition to promoting entrepreneurship and job creation, we need to make New Brunswick’s cities, towns, and villages the kinds of hubs of creativity that attract young professionals and innovative entrepreneurs. Providing support – for example through an infrastructure bank – to local theatre, artists, music, and cultural festivals would be an important step in this regard. Fredericton – long a centre for artistic and creative endeavours – has been able to attract a strong IT sector.

St. Andrews, NB
Furthermore, such local festivals promote tourism. Consider Park City Utah, a once struggling mining town that has now become a centre of independent film with the Sundance Film Festival. America's National Governors' Association has identified a rural arts strategy as a key to job creation, yet New Brunswick, so well positioned as a bilingual, bicultural province, hasn't even started this work.

Sustainable development must be at the core of any micropolitan strategy. This means encouraging and revitalizing walkable downtowns that serve as community centres and hubs of creative and entrepreneurial activity. This means limiting the kind of sprawl that often unnecessarily eats into agricultural lands and landscapes, and erodes the unique character of our cities, towns, villages, and rural landscapes.

It also means making sure that government departments work together in supporting economic development plans. Ensuring that the Department of agriculture supports "farm-to-table" businesses and networks, restoring funding for the entrepreneurial community schools program the UN recognized (and the Tories cut), and seeing our environment as a competitive advantage when we look at issues like hydrofracking and open pit mining -- these would all help.

Smaller cities and communities don't have to accept boarded-up Main Streets and dependence on bailed-out businesses. The world is full of small towns who have built world-class businesses by helping local entrepreneurs meet local needs, and found a niche in culture and tourism. We have unlimited creativity in our people. We are only limited by the creativity of government, and that is a problem that can be easily fixed.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

It's Time To Believe Again


In 1886 a man from York County by the name of A.G. Blair travelled to Saint John for a meeting that would prove to be of great historical consequence for the Province of New Brunswick.  Faced with a regressive Conservative opponent and motivated to bring together progressive minded individuals Blair would plant the seeds that would give rise to the Liberal Party of New Brunswick and make him our province's first and longest-serving Liberal premier.

The values of liberalism that were given to us at our party's founding are a part of the New Brunswick character. They have to be because New Brunswickers have voted for Liberal governments for 76 of the last 126 years.  They are after all, common sense values. Premier J.B. McNair summarized them best when he stated:  "The Liberal Party stands for many things. It believes in economic security for the individual, in personal dignity and independence, in social justice, in the application of the Golden Rule, in the right of the common man to a fair show and a square deal in his quest for a fuller life."

"A fair show and a square deal." 

That line resonates  within my heart and I'm betting it does within yours as well.

The Alward Conservatives have denied New Brunswickers a fair show and a square deal since coming to power in 2010. Like you I've been forced to watch from the outside as the Tories have cut funding for schools, poverty reduction, and healthcare. They are governing on the backs of those who have the least ability to stand up for themselves like the poor, students, and seniors. 

I've spent some time traveling around the province talking to Liberals and they tell me that this leadership race needs a candidate that believes in the values of fairness, honesty, and trust.  In other words someone that will fight for and represent our party's core values.  

I've also heard that many people are not sure that I'm serious about entering the race. Today I am launching a website - - ahead of my official launch to let people know that I am serious, that I do intend to declare, and that I need your help to become the next leader of the Liberal Party of New Brunswick.  

I would be honoured and grateful for your support.

Kelly Lamrock


C'est le temps d'y croire
Chèr(e)s ami(e)s,
En 1886 un homme du comté de York du nom de A.G. Blair voyagea à Saint John pour une réunion qui aura une grande importance historique pour la province du Nouveau-Brunswick. Faisant face, a l’époque, a un adversaire Conservateur régressif, et motive par un désire de rassembler tous ésprits progressistes, Blair innaugura a cette rencontre un mouvèment qui donnera naissance au parti libéral du Nouveau-Brunswick et qui fera de lui l’originel premier ministre libéral du Nouveau-Brunswick, sans ajouter celui qui la servira pendant le plus longtemps.

Ce que nous croyons en tant que libéraux fut concu à cette inauguration. Ces valeurs sont au coeur du caractere néo-brunswickois - sans doute, puisque parmi les premieres 126 années de notre histoire provincale le parti libéral fut le parti du peuple pendant 76 de ceux-ci.  Sans doute, ces valeurs sont raisonnables.

Le premier ministre J.B. McNair les a decrit ainsi:

"Le parti libéral défendera plusieurs principes. Parmi eux, la securité économique de chaque citoyen et citoyenne, la dignité et la liberté humaine, la justice sociale, l’application de la régle d’or, et le droit de l’homme ordinaire à la juste poursuite d’une vie à la hauteur de ses ésperances.”    
Une juste poursuite.
Cette phrase résonne dans mon coeur et, sans doute, dans le votre aussi.

Depuis leur arrivée au pouvoir en 2010, les conservateurs de David Alward réfusent au néo-brunswickois leur juste poursuite. Comme vous, j’observe de l’exterieur les compressions budgetaires que ces conservateurs ont imposées en éducation, en soins de santé, et en réduction de pauvreté. Ils gouvernent avec aucun égard pour ceux qui ont le plus bésoin de leurs services: les jeunes, les malades, et les pauvres.

Il est évident, d’après mes discussions avec de nombreux membres de notre parti, que notre présente course à la direction doit inclure un candidat qui répresente les valeurs libérales de justice, d’honnêteté, et de confiance. En d’autre mots, quelqu’un qui défendera les valeurs fondatrices de notre parti.

J’entends parfois que mes intentions vis-à-vis la cheferie ne sont pas serieuses. En anticipation du lancement officiel de ma campagne, je vous présente aujourd’hui un nouveau site web afin de concretiser mes intentions Je vous encourage d’y visiter, de me contacter, et de me supporter. 

Afin de devenir le prochain chef de notre grand parti, j’ai besoin de vous. Je serais honoré de recevoir votre soutien.

Kelly Lamrock


Tuesday, January 24, 2012

5 Progressive Ideas to Create Jobs and Grow the Economy

Lamrock releases jobs policy

FREDERICTON (Jan. 24, 2012) - Prospective Liberal leadership candidate Kelly Lamrock released a five-pronged proposal on Tuesday to create jobs and grow the New Brunswick economy.

"The Alward Conservatives are completely fixated on cutting spending and have lost sight of the importance of creating jobs," Lamrock said.  "In the meantime, our province has lost over 3,000 jobs and no amount of spending cuts will replace the dignity of the unemployed or, more importantly to the Conservatives, the tax revenues their jobs generated."

Lamrock who is currently touring the province as he assesses whether or not to seek the leadership of the provincial Liberal Party said that he has heard from dozens of New Brunswickers that they're worried about the economy.

"Our kids are moving west in droves and hard-working families struggle to make ends meet.  This isn't the change people were looking for when they voted in 2010," Lamrock said. "We need to restore hope and we need to create good jobs.  I've heard from a lot of people and their ideas have inspired this proposal."

Lamrock is calling for a job creation strategy that focuses on the following five areas:

- Creating a tax forgiveness period for companies who bring overseas profits back to NB to create jobs and stimulate the economy.

- A "One More Job" small business summit aimed at helping each of NB's 26,000 small businesses add one job.

- Replacing government bailouts of unprofitable businesses with a public/private access to capital bank,  including a microcredit program for new entrepreneurs

- Ensuring that NB has the most competitive tax structure in North America for rewarding private sector R&D

- Strategic investments in the creative economy, including a creative infrastructure bank overseen by an arms-length board from government.

Mr. Lamrock said that if he becomes Liberal Leader, he would force a debate in the Legislature on a jobs bill in the first session. "People have had enough of this government telling them to want less. They want a reason to hope again."

"I look forward to hearing from more from the people of New Brunswick inside and outside of the Liberal Party over the coming weeks," Lamrock said. "I believe that there is a strong desire out there for a true progressive alternative in this province."

Lamrock, 41, is a practicing lawyer in Fredericton.  He previously served two terms as MLA for Fredericton-Fort Nashwaak as well as minister of education, minister of social development and attorney general.  While education minister, he chaired the Council of Ministers of Education of Canada and CONFEMEN, the conference of education ministers from French-speaking countries around the world.

French translation follows.

Lamrock partage sa vision pour la création demplois

FREDERICTON (le 24 janvier 2012) Candidat prospectif à la direction libérale, Kelly Lamrock a publié Mardi une proposition de cinq volets visant la création demplois et la croissance économique au Nouveau-Brunswick.

« Les conservateurs de David Alward sont complètement concentrés sur la réduction des dépenses et ont perdu de vue l'importance de la création d'emplois », selon Lamrock. Entre-temps, notre province a perdu plus de 3 000 emplois et aucune réduction de dépenses réussira à restaurer la dignité des chômeurs ou, surtout pour les conservateurs, les revenus dimpôts que représentaient ces emplois.

Lamrock, qui est actuellement en tournée dans la province alors comme quil songeévalue ou non à soumettre sa candidature demander à la direction du Parti libéral provincial, soutient que de nombreux Néo-Brunswickois se disenta déclaré qu'il a entendu des dizaines de personnes au Nouveau-Brunswick qu'ils sont inquiets par rapportde à l'économie.

« Nos enfants se déplacent vers lOuest en grand nombre, et nos familles travaillent fort simplement afin de joindre les deux bouts, » a déclaré Lamrock. « Ce n'est pas le genre de changement que  les personnes envisageaient  lorsqu'ils ont voté en 2010.  Nous devons rétablir leur espoir et nous devons créer de bons emplois. Les gens ont partagé leurs idées avec moi, et cest eux qui ont inspiré cette proposition. »

Lamrock fait appel à une stratégie de création d'emplois qui se concentre sur les cinq domaines suivants :

- La création d'une banque d'infrastructure pour les industries créatives et des arts, dirigée par un conseil indépendant composé par des entrepreneurs et des artistes.

- La remplacement des bourses pour des enterprises non-rentables avec une fonde pour améliorer l'accès à capital pour des entrepreneurs

-Les crédits d'impot les plus compétitives dans l'Amérique du pour la recherche et développement pour attirer les emplois verts et créatives

- Un sommet  pour les 26 000 petites entreprises pour chercher ensemble les façons pour chaque petite enterprise de grandir par un emploi  ; et

-Un crédit d'impôt pour les entreprises qui utilisent des bénéfices provenant de l'étranger pour créer des emplois au Nouveau-Brunswick.

M. Lamrock a affirmé que, s'il devient chef du parti Libéral, les Libéraux lancera un débat législative sur un projet de loi pour des emplois comme une première priorité. <<Les Néo-Brunswickois veulent l'espoir, non plus de la défaitisme du gouvernement Alward>>

« J'ai hâte de rencontrer plus de gens dans les semaines à venir,  à l'intérieur du Parti libéral ainsi qu’à l'extérieur » ajoute Lamrock.  « Je crois qu'il existe un fort désir pour un alternative progressiste parmi les gens de cette province. »

Lamrock, 41, est avocat employé à Fredericton. Il fut, à deux reprises, élu en tant que député dans la circonscription provinciale de Fredericton-Fort Nashwaak. En tant que ministre de l'éducation, il a présidé le Conseil des ministres de l'éducation du Canada ainsi que la CONFEMEN, la Conférence des ministres de l'éducation des pays francophones. Lamrock fut aussi ministre du développement social, ainsi que procureur général du Nouveau-Brunswick.


Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Why Ideas Matter

In the next few weeks, I've pledged to make this leadership race a campaign of ideas.  Touring around the province, our team has pledged to not just make this an organizational meeting. We will be putting forward real policy ideas to start a discussion about what it means to be a Liberal in 2012, and to give our party a vision that progressive voters can rally behind as an alternative to the AlwardCons' do-nothing government.

Before the specifics start to flow, this blog post will explain why ideas need to be a priority for Liberals. The challenge is not to change the superficial image of our party, or find a smarter group of backroom boys.  The challenge is to give people a reason to believe that they don't have to settle for the small dreams and limited hope they have with David Alward. People know they want more. But they need to re-establish trust in Liberals, and in our institutions, to deliver that to them.

Some pundits are saying that Canada is simply entering a more conservative age, and that conservatives have found the magic formula to win over the electorate because people are becoming more right wing.

I don't buy it for a second, by the way, but one can get the feeling that the talk has gotten into the minds of some Liberals and spooked them.  My friend Mike Murphy, who has a solid record in government, has started to try to adopt some conservative planks in his platform, pledging to fire 20% of the people who deliver public services and supporting Stephen Harper on some of his crime and decentralization planks.  And Brian Gallant, who I know to be a progressive Liberal, hasn't challenged him on this, which makes me wonder if we've become afraid to defend liberal values in the public arena.

That is one theory -- which is that conservatives are winning and we have to either adopt a few conservative ideas or stay vague and hope no one notices.  I'd like to offer a third way to winning elections.  Instead of stealing bad ideas or splitting the difference, let's renew our own liberal ideas to show we have listened to and learned from the people.

Because if you're like me, you see even more signs that people are coming to believe in the central value that separates us from conservatives ... they don't want to be left to sink or swim and they do believe that we are all in this together.

When I look at the success of the poverty reduction initiative, the way New Brunswick embraced community schools to the point that UNESCO embraced our model, when I look at how much we volunteer in our communities, I don't buy for a second that New Brunswickers have lost faith in the idea that we are stronger when we work together. If anything, liberal principles are stronger than ever.

And the economic case for liberalism has never been stronger -- at a time when emerging markets in China and India are winning on cheap labour we have to win on creativity, innovation and productivity. That means the employer who will hire my children will only come here if EVERY child has access to great schools and lifelong learning, and if we have the infrastructure to compete.

Unlike the Conservatives, we believe that individuals are stronger when we choose to work together, and when we take on the opportunities and responsibilities of being part of a community larger than ourselves. We know that by pooling our resources, we can build the infrastructure that makes business more successful, we can have hospitals and schools that give us all peace of mind, and we can make sure that there is the equality of opportunity for everyone that makes sure every individual has an incentive to work, to create and to contribute their full potential to our community.

Democratic government, to Liberals, is a place where individuals can work together and in doing so, become part of a community that makes us fully who we are.  This belief is unique to Liberals. It is why ideas that are simple truths today, like Medicare to Equal Opportunity to the Charter of Rights, could never have happened under Conservatives, and why Conservatives fought every one of those ideas until they became too popular to resist. 

The problem we, as Liberals, have to address is that people are losing faith in government as the best place for people to work together. And we have to have ideas that renew that covenant between citizens and our governments. THAT is why now we need new ideas ... to make people believe that their desire to work together can actually be achieved through our public institutions. That is our challenge.

That may be more of a challenge than choosing a shiny new face or funding a massive campaign, but it is the only path that leads to victory.

Here's how we renew ourselves.....

Too many talented young people have stopped believing government programs will deliver on issues like fighting poverty or sustaining our environment, so they tune out of the political arena, but are volunteering more than ever.  If we want them to see the debate between liberalism and conservatism as relevant, then we have to start supporting volunteerism and building networks of strong non-profits to meet the goals progressives share.

Conservatives have done a good job convincing people we are too broke to dream.  We need a people-powered plan for fiscal responsibility, including budgeting for long-term savings with smart social spending, ending crony corporate welfare, and making government departments accountable for results.

Too many talented people are leaving New Brunswick, and Conservatives have shown they are still fighting the old battle for cheap labour and losing good jobs and creative people.  We need to make jobs an economic issue, and have real ideas to encourage private sector investment in R&D, reward investment in start-up capital, and build creative industries from the arts sector to the green economy.

Voters have grown cynical about a politics they see as too stage-managed and unresponsive. We need a real democratic reform agenda to hold politicians more accountable between elections and reward the honest interaction young people have come to know through social media.

And we need to anchor our values with a new Covenant of Equal Opportunity that shows that we are a Liberal Party who will always remember that our province can only reach as high as we can lift the most vulnerable citizens and communities among us.

People didn't punish the Liberal Party for dreaming big, pursuing change, or even for being willing to spend more on education and health care. These were all issues for the first two years of our mandate, and polls showed we would have won a larger majority. We lost for two reasons - we became inconsistent stewards of liberal values, and because we too often made people feel as if change was something we did to them, not with them.

People know that we have bigger challenges than the AlwardCons are capable of delivering solutions for. But they want to be part of that change, and they need to know they can trust that change. To build that trust, we will have to run on new ideas and strong, liberal values.

In my statement announcing the tour, I said that Liberals shouldn't have to choose between change and substance. I believe that we shouldn't just demand both ... our party absolutely needs both.  If we try to take the easy road, offering only cosmetic change and vague ideas, the voters will call us out for it.  We need to find ideas and values that are worth fighting for.  It is time for Liberals to believe again.