Neutralize the opposition

Just a quick note on Bernard Lord’s appointment today of Lizzy Weir to some marginal quasi-governmental entity.

I may not like the Lord’s economic development policies but you have to admire some of his political moves. After the last election, he was hanging on by a thread in the Legislature and now after Paul Martinesque moves, he has eliminated probably his two biggest opposition critics. Bernard Richard was a savvy and well spoken adversary. And every one knows the role that Lizzy played. And after he ‘saved’ Lepreau recently, he literally walks on the proverbial polluted water for Saint Johners. He should win Lizzy’s seat easily in a by-election.

Now both Bernard and Lizzy are gathering government paycheques and doing what, again?

After 15 years of watching this stuff, I have concluded that New Brunswickers don’t vote on big picture issues like economic growth, social programs, education, etc. We pick one thing that really grinds our gourd or makes us happy and we base our vote on that. Consider toll highways or auto insurance or RCMP or amalgamation.

And Lord has given just about every constituent in the province something (a bone) since the last election. Saint Johners get Lepreau and LNG. Monctonians get a phantom ‘Med school’, a
French high school and a bridge (and don’t forget Molson’s). Frederictons get thousand of new public sector jobs (look at the labour force survey). The odd constituent out is the North but, does he really need them? He didn’t last time.

Unless somebody can catch our imagination, I suspect the Lord can stay in office as long as he wants.

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0 Responses to Neutralize the opposition

  1. Anonymous says:

    Dude, stick to economic analysis!:) Kidding, but seriously, come on. Lord has a majority government by ONE seat. And it was plain economics that did him in with the auto insurance fiasco. That really hasn’t changed.

    Just because a ‘token’ is thrown to different cities doesn’t mean that suddenly that riding will vote him for it. In Saint John there is a VERY active grassroots opposition to LNG. Not to mention everybody in Saint John knows what an LNG terminal can do, and even the St.John paper said that it will only provide 20 jobs at the most, and cost tens of millions in tax concessions.

    Lord came out of nowhere (well, Quebec) to one of the biggest wins in a decade. Not just that, but the Grahams have ties that go back to Buctouche and the Irving family, and more importantly, they make sure not to step on Irving toes when they criticize the government. Even in the tax deal that got them national press (and not good press) the Liberals never said boo.

    Of course lots can happen in two years, especially with some creative riding realignments. But my forecast is that Lord won’t even stick it out to the next election, and if he does, he’s going downnnnnnn. I’d even put money on it. It sometimes depends on how hard the Irving press pushes it, but you can’t hide the economy from New Brunswickers.

  2. The Virginian says:

    What opposition???? Light weight, then again Bernie was not so heavy when he started out. But David I have to agree he has made some brilliant political moves, and Anonymous or should I say dear St Johnner, your reference to Lord native province does not boad well for our immigration efforts. Another from ‘away’.

  3. vivenewbrunswick says:

    People read way too much into comments. First, I’ve never spent a night of my life in St.John, unless you count Fundy Park as St. John. Second, I don’t see what the Quebec reference has to do with immigration, in fact it shows just how little New Brunswickers care about such things (to me that’s good, somebody local can screw you over just as easily as someone from away).

    Finally, define ‘lightweight’. Graham was an unknown before the last election yet came within 4000 popular votes of Lord, and if you went by riding he would have been Premier if six ridings had had a difference of less than a hundred votes. Again, New Brunswickers appear to care little for appearances (also a good thing).

    I don’t think I’d define anything in politics as ‘brilliant’, and it certainly probably wasn’t Lord’s brilliance. If you are in Fredericton though you know that being appointed ombudsman certainly hasn’t silenced Bernard Richard, in fact it has given him official standing to make complaints more public. Of course the Irving Press rarely covers it, but those who deal with the ombudsman are well aware of it, and certainly those in Fredericton, which is pretty small by city standards (ie. word gets around).

    Take for instance a topic that was covered for about two days in the Irving Press, namely the Right to Information Act. Richard has been consistently critical of the government, which ranked almost last in terms of disclosure, even though disclosure is clearly defined by the courts. NB’ers aren’t stupid and they pay attention to such things. Richard has been very vocal about many issues, mostly because the government refuses to enact any of his recommended policies. The ombudsman makes regular appearances at organization’s functions, which is where a good percentage (at least the ones politically active) of NB’ers get their information.

    He’s also been highly critical of the province’s methadone program, lack of medical studies, nursing homes, community services, and I could go on and on. It’s doubtful he could have been in a position to study these issues had he not been given this job.

    Of course predicting a winner in an election with 900 constituents can be an arduous task, let alone tens of thousands, but I don’t think the ombudsman is helping the government. In fact giving an NDP’er a job may very look like kowtowing to the enemy, which again, tactically speaking, COULD hurt him. In politics the brilliance can’t be attributed until the next election.

  4. scott says:

    Being a part of the Tories and the Ottawa scene during the decade of vote splitting on the right, I always thought that it was more clever to keep your foes fighting eachother instead of you. Though I disliked Chretien…his strategy was sound.

    In my opinion, both Bernard Lord and Lisa Keenan’s attack on the NDP and their leader could come back to bite them in a major way.

    I mean let’s get realistic, where do you think the NDP vote will go if their leader and the party fold their tent?

  5. Anonymous says:

    I”m unclear, how exactly was the NDP, PC and Reform party fighting Chretien’s strategy?
    There have always and only ever been 10% of New Brunswickers who have voted NDP. Those numbers could go down without Weir, and with their new replacement, I suspect it will. But there’s no way of knowing where that vote will go, because there is no party that addresses issues the way the NDP does. The liberals might try to sound like they do, but everybody knows that opposition parties will say the opposite of most governmental policies, unless that would mean crossing Irving.

    I”d also put money on voter turnout continuing to go down.

  6. scott says:

    Lord has conservative right flank all but locked up. He lost some of the non-card carrying centre by mismanaging the auto insurance file. As we all know, his party has never been marketable to the left leaning activists. They only make up 10 % of the vote in NB anyway.

    Therefore, what does he have to gain by killing off the left. It will only bleed into the hands of Graham and his social liberal agenda. That sure can’t be good PC strategy.

  7. Anonymous says:

    It’s impossible to have a ‘social liberal agenda’ when you aren’t even in power. That’s not the nature of an ‘opposition’. If you read their platform there is almost no mention of social policies, and the ones that are mentioned certainly aren’t ‘liberal’ in too many senses of the word.

    If I were a strategist I’d say nominating Weir is more of a ‘goodwill’ gesture. Not something that will stem the tide, but something that will push a few over the fence. No doubt most people who may tend towards NDP know there is very little point in throwing their vote away on the party.

    But if you look at where she is, the Minister of Conservation or some such thing, it really is just a patronage job. In NB we know nothing is going to come from conservation except some ads on CBC telling you not to leave your lights on. Just like when they put Weir on the committee looking at auto insurance. Every person who knows even a little about NAFTA knows that you can’t start a public insurance program or else you have to pay compensation to all the insurance companies that have been locked out. So it’s not like this is a big appointment to…well, what’s a big appointment, lieutenant governor or something.

  8. scott says:

    By appointing Weir, it is possible that Lord hopes to have an individual in his camp down the road that he can rely on for support.

    Even NDP Stephen Lewis, who Mulroney appointed during his time in office, still has good things to say about Mulroney vs. Trudeau.

    “If you think about it, the Mulroney position on South Africa and the opposition to apartheid was a far more principled position than had been true of (former prime minister) Pierre Trudeau,” said Lewis.

    Nothing like a legacy boost when you are being kicked when you are down. It still doesn’t help Mulroney in the liberal dominated media. It probably will not help Lord either.