28 March 2010

Wanted: adults

Former Bank of Canada David Dodge laid it out in stark terms for anyone who wants to listen.

“It” is the challenge facing all Canadians of continuing to provide public services like health care in the face of shifts in the workforce among other things.

But the hard choices for any prime minister go beyond energy. Former Bank of Canada governor David Dodge spelled it out in bleak terms, saying Canadians need to have the courage to engage in an "adult conversation" about what governments can afford at a time of a shrinking workforce, ageing population and slowing economy.

"We kind of are wishing the problem away by assuming that we can curtail expenditures without curtailing the real services that governments are providing to you and me as citizens," he said after addressing 250 convention attendees.

Adult conversation has been missing from what public discussion there has been of major issues in this province for the past seven years.  Around these parts, the challenge of having a substantive discussion is greater given the prevalence of magical thinking throughout society.  Magical thinking in this case would be any suggestion that there are no problems at all or that they will be easily solved.

Let’s see if there is continued magical thinking in Monday’s budget.  Bet the farm on a “yes” and you won’t make much:  everyone who has been paying attention is expecting just that.

They likely won’t be disappointed.