On Canada Day, New Brunswick will take its next step in pursuing its plan for lower taxes. New Brunswick’s bold move to redesign its tax system and encourage growth through prosperity has already paid its first dividends — for the people of Maine.

An editorial in the June 23 edition of the Wall Street Journal touts the “Maine Miracle.” Maine it seems has launched “sweeping tax reform that is almost, but not quite a flat tax.” Sound familiar? Apparently Maine Gov. John Baldacci took more away from his meetings with New Brunswick Premier Shawn Graham than a shared vision for a new cross-border energy powerhouse.

Following in Graham’s footsteps, Baldacci has introduced a single rate tax with a high income surtax (for those making more than $250,000) and he is paying for it by controlling spending, eliminating tax loopholes and extending Maine’s sales tax to items previously exempt.

Maine has reduced its tax burden from the seventh highest in the United States to the 20th. Much like the result for New Brunswick it might not be perfect, but it is far better than what has come before. More importantly, it supplies clear and concrete evidence that the commitment to self-sufficiency will be backed up by actions. Not incremental steps but by fundamental actions that adjust the playing field and make self-sufficiency not just a sound bite but a plausible objective.

The challenge for New Brunswick will be to remember that the world will not stand still while you catch up. In fact, the steps you take to improve your economy, attract new business and make New Brunswick an attractive place to live work and raise a family will force other provinces and states to take similar steps. They may even see your improvements and raise you some.

Consider the Maine example in this light. The pupil may well have exceeded the master in this case. Recall that while a single rate and an expanded HST were on the table, Graham stepped back from both these options. He also kept many tax loopholes and indeed created a few more. But this is the nature of competition, New Brunswick threw down the gauntlet and Maine has responded, in spades. As these reforms take hold it will be difficult for other neighbors, such as Nova Scotia or Quebec, to ignore this phenomenon for long. For that matter, at least one Conservative leadership contender in Ontario has been plugging New Brunswick-style reforms as the recipe for rescuing Ontario’s savaged economy.

But there are lessons about communicating such fundamental reforms that the New Brunswick Liberals could learn from the Maine Democrats. When faced with the accusation that he has simply delivered “tax cuts for the rich,” Baldacci’s response is two pronged: “Without employers there are no employees” and “The best social services program is a job.” Words to live by.

Charles Cirtwill is the executive vice president of the Atlantic Institute for Market Studies, www.AIMS.ca, a public policy think tank based in Halifax, Nova Scotia.