This post is a very personal one. Within it, I am going to try and explain not only what my political and personal motivations are, but also, why I hold them and what has inspired them.
“I am a malcontent.”
I think it’s important to get that out of the way, right away. I am impatient by my nature; I don’t like it when people are not willing to try new things, even worse, I hate it when people yield for the status quo, simply due to a fear of failure.
I was cut from almost every team as a kid, I have lost many more contracts than I have secured. I’ve been fired, lost elections, and got left out in the cold by groups I had supported with fierceness and passion. All of this is to say that I fail regularly, and it’s no big deal. It certainly isn’t something to fear so much that you become paralyzed.
I also like to argue, even about things upon which we may agree. I enjoy the idea that we can battle test our ideas against each other. If one does not have the courage or the conviction to defend their opinions in a heated discussion, then how do they expect them to stand up to actual implementation.
Being this way has brought me as much hardship as it has satisfaction. The skills developed by always looking to pick ideas apart and fight is one of the characteristics that make me a capable and decisive leader (in my opinion). Unfortunately, this confrontational style is often off-putting and makes it hard for me navigate political, personal, and business waters without ruffling many, many feathers.
These characteristics would lead you to believe that I am a loner. I wish that this were the case. I thrive and always yearn to be part of a team.
I am the guy who jumps the boards when my goalie gets run over.
All of these characteristics lead to the type of person I am. I don’t share this with you to evoke some sympathy or admiration. These statements are just meant to explain some of the edges that I show and to give you a better idea of why.
Symbols are Given Power by People
My favorite movie is V for Vendetta; it is comic book movie. Well, a movie based off a graphic novel. In the dystopian future portrayed in the film, a Terrorist named V takes down the British Government both regarding their metaphoric and physical authority. I watch it once a month on average.
When Alan Moore, an acclaimed graphic novelist, wrote the original graphic novel it was a commentary on Thatcherism and the overreach that a government can be permitted to have when a population faces challenges and instead of stepping up. They allow others to assume power for the promise of easy answers or some sense of safety and security. The Film was a little more opaque in its references to exact political figures, but had a bit of an allusion to the Bush administration, and could easily show links to the rise of Trump (although released ten years prior).
The movie deals largely with the idea of symbols. The symbol of the British Parliament is destroyed, to allow the people of Britain to build their own. The symbols of Muslims, the gay and lesbian community and immigrants were utilized by the bad guys in the film as points of fear and blame; this allowed the rise to power of the movie’s villains. Primarily, the narrative presents you with the realization that we are both responsible for and have control of the symbols, rhetoric, and ideas that gain power in this world. It also means that we have the ability to change the world if we simply have the conviction to do what is necessary and choose new symbols and ideals to hold fast to.
On the political stage
I believe that almost everything we do deserves this kind of passion, belief, and conviction. Would I go down to Fredericton and blow up the legislature? No, of course not. However, it is conceivable, that a time may come where a more symbolic destruction of the current state of government is required. Given our population, perhaps it’s time our province shifted its management to run like one large municipality? I am not suggesting that this happens tomorrow, but I always refer to this province as the Small Town Province, and I believe there is likely some value in the realization that we are not Ontario, Alberta or Quebec and maybe should look at a more proportional style of governance.
More than anything though I believe in fighting. It is my belief that it is good for us to disagree, but you better come with as much conviction and support for your opinion as I do for mine. Otherwise, I believe you deserve to have your position attacked. In this province and my village we are past the point of easy choices, so everything, in my opinion, deserves more than just lip-service scrutiny.
The Status Quo – It Needs to Be Destroyed
In V for Vendetta, V wears a Guy Fawkes mask. As I am Irish Catholic, this symbol of rebellion acutely speaks to my history and rebellious personality. I think if we all take a look at how our province and communities have operated over the past few decades, the results delivered, we will all come to the same conclusion,
This system is so flawed and underperforming that it must be helping some small group of powerful people in order to be sustained.
I mean more or less it’s simple math. Take Belledune for example. The community has had the largest industrial tax base in the region for the past decades, yet investments in growth, infrastructure, or any change that would disrupt the current trajectory of the community are non-existent. There is an attitude prevalent in this community that flows systemically through the rest of the province.
It is incredibly hard to define this deficit in motivation accurately, but I believe it comes from the fact that a long time ago, development and success was a given. Our resources coupled with the hard working nature of our people was an easy equation for growth and security. The world has changed, and I am sorry, but there are lots of places in the world where people will work just as hard and for a lot less. This discovery has not been lost on the large multi-national companies and combined with a decrease in the producible resources in our province, the result is that we have to adapt. It may already be too late.
My frustration with this systemic belief that we don’t need to change is never more evident than when some says my least favourite phrase,
But this is the way we have always done it. and/or It’s worked this way for X number of years already.
If you hear someone utter those ten words in a political or administrative capacity, they are plain and straightforward, avoiding accountability. This response is the mantra of someone who has given up. If you were to walk into a struggling business and the CEO simultaneously refused to change the way they operated and declined to accept accountability for the results, that person would be fired, or the company would collapse. That is what we see here in Belledune and in the Province as a whole. At least provincially, the government is making attempts to change up the dynamic in the province, although a wise man once said to me that,
If you are looking to government to fuel economic growth, you’ve already lost.
I am not saying that these men and women are bad people, or that they deserve to lose their jobs or seats. They are simply not being held to the standard that we need to hold our elected and appointed officials to. In fact, we are not even providing them with the right measurement metrics. If we start measuring our leaders by a different set of criteria, effort, innovation, engagement, shots taken, then they may start measuring themselves differently, instead of only getting reelected or keeping their job by avoiding all risks and scenarios where they may be held accountable for a less than ideal result.
“There is no certainty, Only Opportunity.”
I like this quote, so much so that it is my plan to get it permanently placed somewhere. I like it because it’s true. We always allow the quest for certainty to drive the majority of our actions and decisions. The issue with that is, that certainty is rarely ever present when you are trying to disrupt a trend.
Provincially, rather than invest in uncertain sectors like online training, rural learning centers, rural daycare, etc.. The past several governments have dedicated themselves to enticing certain jobs by handing out generous tax credits to already established companies. Unfortunately, this has resulted in unstable and cyclical employment that ends as soon as the credits run out.
Municipalities are feeling the pressure too. To assert more certainty over the finances and operations of municipalities, we see a growing push for regionalization of services and governance. All these steps, although creating a bit more confidence, absolutely kill the ability and motivation to provide and pursue opportunities.
In the presence of absolute certainty, it is very hard to find opportunity. In fact, the only certainty that our communities and provinces can hold to is the status quo, a death grip that ensures that everything is done the way it’s always been done and that absolutely no opportunities that may disrupt the status quo will ever come around.
I hope that this gives any of you who have bothered to read this far, a bit of insight into who I am and why I may come off as aggressive and combative. I believe that unless you are willing to fight for something, you’ll always lose out to someone who is. And, that it is our turn to look in the mirror, accept responsibility for our own destiny, foil up the knuckles and step into the ring.