The Atlantic Institute of Market Studies, or AIMS as they call themselves, gave the City of Bathurst a mark of “C” on a report card comparing municipalities in New Brunswick.
AIMS are a special interest think tank, largely funded by corporate donors and the highest paid individuals who own and operate those corporations.
Although they call themselves independent, all of their research and activity tends to support a pro corporate and private sector view of the world. As a way of example, I point to their website, which has on the front page a financial clock showing how much we are being “Gouged at the Pumps!” by gas regulations.
Other more independent researchers have come to other conclusions.
Even if AIMS evidence supports their premise, which it always does, the point is that they hardly appear scholarly, nor serious, nor independent when they use hyperbole and marketing language like “gouged.” That’s the way I see it anyway.
So getting a “C” from AIMS is a measure of what a right-wing think tank thinks and comes from a particular perspective. The grading system is usually a ploy to get media attention to a report, which it succeeds in doing, to generate discussion around different subjects related to public policy and how it relates to money. With AIMS, it’s always about money.
I believe public discussion around public policy is often lacking, and AIMS does loads of valuable research that increases public accountability.
I believe, as they do, that public access to information is critical to accountability. It’s their point of view I take issue with and a healthy debate will result in better policy.
To Bathurst’s credit, AIMS mentions them in their press release about the reports, saying how accessible city financial documents are to its ratepayers, and to researchers like AIMS.
However, the City of Bathurst got an “F” in efficiency of their “Safety and Protection” category, and a “D” in the effectiveness of their taxation, and a “D ” in the effectiveness of their economic development. That’s what dragged the average down.
Bathurst Mayor Stephen Brunet, a retired teacher, once scratched 15.5 out of 20 on the back of the letter holder I made in his Grade 8 shop class. I know I deserved more, but for some reason my project was marked as mediocre.
I am sure from his prospective he was right, but I know deserved better.
Now he knows how it feels.
Paul Chapman is a local freelance writer and his column appears weekly.