Taking a good hard look.
My little brother graduated from Bathurst High School recently. The school that I myself graduated from, ten years ago. As I watched him up on the stage, noticing that the number of seats had decreased somewhat noticeably since I graduated, I got very introspective about the state in which my home was in.
A lot of you who know me, know that Belledune is not where I grew up. Due to my Father’s hard work and drive, my childhood had many pitstops instead of one concrete home. I feel it’s necessary to highlight this facet of my development, not to generate any kind of pity, I had an amazing childhood; however, it did provide me with a great deal of perspective of what it’s like to grow up in different types of communities across the country. I could also see in a somewhat limited means, what it was like for my parents who were young by most standards to live and grow in various communities across the country.
So while Connor was sitting, smiling (as he usually is) on the stage of the Gwendolyn Kent Auditorium I thought to myself, “What is it about this place, the place that I’ve only in my adult years come to associate with the term home, that keeps it in a perpetual state of drain circling?”
Then I looked down to the front row of the auditorium, reserved for honoured guests. I saw that all of the gentlemen were over the age of 40. Most of whom actually over the age of 50. I thought to myself, jeez these people don’t represent me, they certainly don’t represent the interests of the graduates sitting in front of them. It wasn’t that I felt they didn’t care, just that after years of comfort and settling in, these gentlemen had all subscribed to the notion that they knew what was best for the younger generations without real substantive input from these generations.
It was then that the idea behind New Brunswick 2020 crystallized in my mind, “The only way to break the cycle and make this region and province a better place for younger generations, is to get younger people not only engaged, but we needed to get younger people elected.
And with that New Brunswick 2020 was born.
What to do now?
I’m a malcontent by nature, combined with an undiagnosed case of A.D.D. (just assuming) I always have to be doing something, and hate repeating a task that either does not produce the desired outcome, or is what I deem an inefficient use of resources. If you read my post Sinking in the Snow you’ll see that this predisposition can have as much of a downside as any upside that it provides.
As a result of the above character flaws, I realized that any P.S.A. where we would either try to inspire or guilt the upcoming generation into action was destined for failure. Although these efforts were often well meaning and sometimes successfully executed, the effect was often negligible and immeasurable.
The video above was actually created by our current Premier. Brian Gallant who is 33 at the time of this blog post, is often maligned for his age and perceived lack of wisdom. You can criticize the man’s performance to date, but the one thing that can’t be held against him is the energy and passion derived from his youth. Ultimately, Brian is an aberration an elected official under the age of 40. He is short company in the legislature, and given the responsibility and forced restraint of his position, cannot be the agent of change, that from knowing the man, he truly wants to be. But what if he had peers? What if he had people in both municipal governments, in the legislature as well as the parliament who were more in tune with the hurdles facing our generation.
Evening the Playing Field
Let’s not be fooled, Mr. Gallant, who was 29 when he decided to run for the leadership of the New Brunswick Liberals, was not on his own. He had a great deal of professional and financial support from a large number of people to which some refer to as the “Party Elite.” There is a persistent argument in political conversations in this province equates this level of support has left Brian beholden to this group, and is the reason behind some of his more controversial decisions as Premier.
Let’s not think for a second though that had Brian not spent the thousands upon thousands of dollars, that yes he had for the most part provided for him, that he would have had a chance defeating the successful established attorney Mike Murphy.
That’s when the mission became clear. What Brian had, the support, both financial and professional, that’s what we needed to provide to the young leaders of this province. We’d do it better though, we would provide it through a non-profit and the only string attached would be that they do their best to make a difference once they get elected. By doing this we can help young ambitious people take on the established citizens who view these elected positions as something to do during retirement.
This year we will focus on the upcoming municipal elections. We will accept applicants and adopt the start-up model that has seen success in turning ideas into successful businesses. By functioning as a group instead of individuals we will offer mentorship from political officials who have been on both sides of the campaigns, winning and losing. We will use our numbers to greatly reduce the costs associated with running against the more established and disinterested candidates. We will share our skills and resources to help build up the campaign infrastructure of our candidates.
The aim is to give leaders under the age of 40 the best possible chance to get elected in 2016. We will be able to measure effectiveness by of course seeing if we get candidates elected.
I believe that if successful, we will start seeing innovation, growth and rejuvenation to our province. Decisions will be made not to maintain the status quo, but to improve it. Our generation will not work to maintain a decaying facade of a structure that once shone in the light, we will build anew, we will start breaking the trail to a better and brighter 2020.
If you are interested in being a part of this initiative or a candidate, please contact me!