The fun begins

Somebody from the Miramichi told me “never mess with Tanker”. In fact, the rumours were swirling during the hospital cuts that he would leave the Tory ranks. He didn’t then, but he does now.

There is starting to be a bit of trend here. It has taken 6.5 years but it seems clear to me that Premier Lord doesn’t engender a lot of loyalty. When Elvy quit, he said ‘nobody’s replaceable’. I have heard through the grapevine that a number of staffers were let go with equal nonchalance. Work like a dog for me and then don’t let the door hit you on the arse on the way out.

Leaving Malley out of Cabinet is one thing. Telling the Canadian Press that the guy who holds the balance of power asked for bribes to stay in the party is another:

Lord told the Canadian Press he could’ve have held onto Malley as a Conservative if he had agreed to a series of demands Malley made after being left out of the latest cabinet shuffle.

Lord said Malley asked him for several political favours. They included the appointment of a friend as a judge and more money for his Miramichi constituency office.

The friend, Fredericton lawyer Cleveland Allaby, told CP: “This whole thing about a judicial appointment is bull**.”

It’s obvious the Lord wants an election, soon. That’s why Elvy, Mesheau, et. al. announced their intention not to run almost two years in advance – they knew this was coming.

Actually, as I have mentioned before, this is not a bad time for Lord to call an election. It is well in advance of the potentially devastating Census data that will start coming out early in 2007. He can run as a good friend of the “Prime Minister” and there is no guarantee he could say that in 2007. He will be running in advanced of a power rate increase that we will all feel acutely in our wallets (a so-called pocket book issue). Imagine the average NBer figuring out they spent several hundred dollars more on electricity and having that tied by the media and the Liberals to Lepreau, Orimulsion, etc. (rightly or wrongly). He will be running before the mill closes in the Miramichi – likely in 2007 – unless there is a miracle. All in all, a spring or even summer election in 2006 (when does the house sit?) would be about the best time for him.

*He could run on the low unemployment rate (the opposition still hasn’t figured out how to say our unemployment rate is second highest in North America and that Saskatchewan has a 4% unemployment rate and is freaking out about population decline).

*He could run on his friendship to Stephen Harper and maybe even have old Peter Mackay do a swing or two through the province.

*The Opposition may be caught off guard and still not ready. Has Claudette agreed to run?

Bottom line – it won’t be any better next year. If the public buys these little statistic slights of hand and wants to align their Premier with the PM, then maybe he can win. He then can manage through all these upcoming crises (Census, pulp mill closures, etc.) and then bow out after 10-11 years in power and still be a teenybopper politically speaking. Heck, by then the Federal Tories may be looking around again. If he loses, he has a lot more political options with the PCs in power federally as they are now (patronage, crown corps., biding his time until he can run federally, etc.).

As of right now, my prediction would be that he will get hammered. Claudette will run and hug everybody to death. Graham can dole out promises like any opposition party. Lord will probably still win most of Moncton and Fredericton seats but nowhere else. The Tories may be reduced to 15 seats or so.

Then the Desseruds, Savoies, et. al. will weigh in on what went wrong. He was too arrogant some ex ministers will say. He was too indecisive some local economic development officials will say. He was too young some pompous blogger will write.

Then the cycle will start over again. Out with the old, in with the new.

But in 2013 or so, will things have substantially changed? Will prosperity abound? Will Al Hogan continue to sing Lord’s praises – in whatever capacity he finds himself?

The only question now is when Tanker will pull the trigger. Based on my limited exposure to the Miramichi, he will look like a hero in that community. Lord’s comments about ‘political favours’ are obviously to sully this image of Tanker but I don’t think it will work. He (Tanker)will look courageous to most Miramichiers who are understandably worried about the future and who legitimately feel that nothing is being done. Lord’s message of small business tax cuts, ‘sound’ fiscal management, etc. don’t matter much when your community is ‘Tanking’ – no pun intended.

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0 Responses to The fun begins

  1. scott says:

    But in 2013 or so, will things have substantially changed? Will prosperity abound?

    That’s a longtime from now David. Who Knows, maybe you’ll be Premier?

  2. Anonymous says:

    I don’t agree with that analysis. I don’t think Lord wants an election, clearly after St.John it has to at least be dawning on him that his days are numbered.

    The idea that he wants it sooner rather than later, and that he would set up a cabinet shuffle just because he knew it would piss off a couple of members enough to leave the party is a bit of a stretch.

    Tanker may be ‘respected’ (and aren’t ALL politicians respected by SOME constituents-no matter what), however, that the Premier is lying to the press would be odd. If I were Tanker and he said that, I’d be slapping him with a lawsuit. Tanker, is, at the end of the day, a politician, and this is what politicians DO.

    As you say, it doesn’t matter a whit to New Brunswickers. Graham is as dim a bulb as Lord. I don’t think the guy has even set foot outside the province (seems to be a recurring theme among NB politicians-hard to make comparisons if you’ve never been further west than Fredericton).

    In fact, at least Lord has SOME people talking economics. It’s slowly building, and new parties always bring a ‘grace period’ where people tune out yet again.

    I don’t see anything changing. Although NB has always been a backwater, up to now we’ve had premiers who made some real gutsy moves, Robichaud for centralizing and attending poverty, Hatfield taking a shot with Bricklyn, standing up for native federal rights (and just being Hatfield), McKenna for pounding the pavement.

    And now….Lord will be known for undoing ALL of it. Perhaps he IS a plant by Quebec!

  3. David Campbell says:

    If Lord didn’t want an election in the next six months or so, why wouldn’t he have given Tanker his grift? He gave his arch enemy Liz Weir a six figure patronage appointment to try and get more wiggle room in the Legislature. He bought off Bernard Richard for the same reason. And, in terms of political favours, just look at NB Power, RDC and a host of other government agencies to find Tory appointments. To free up a couple of insignificant patronage appointments to appease Tanker could have been done easy. I suspect he (Lord) would rather face an election than cow to a cranky, threatening MLA. But, you can be sure his ‘advisors’ hacked this idea around and came the same conclusion that I did – going to the polls in 2006 would be preferred compared to 2007 when there will be some very explosive events such as the Census. I am not sure you realize the political ammunition that the Census will provide in light of the last five years of ‘prosperity’ talk. Miramichi, Tracadie, Bathurst, Campbellton, Sussex, Shippigan, etc. (probably Edmundston and Saint John as well) will all show declining populations again in 2006 like they did in 2001. When you are in Ontario and a few rural communities lose population it would be the equivalent of Port Elgin and Kedgwick Ridge losing population – the overwhelming vote in southern Ontario would more than compensate. But in New Brunswick, when you are losing population in all but two urban centres, that’s a serious issue – especially set against the backdrop of further industry decline and increased dependancy on the fragile Equalization system. The Premier of this province whom ever he/she will be will have to tackle this issue head on (just like Saskatchewan). They may conclude there is nothing that can be done but they will have to put this issue clearly before the people. And the day of reckoning is coming in early 2007. Some of you will brush this off as natural rural decline – urban balancing, etc. But again, I must insist that population deline is happening in our mid sized and even large cities (Saint John) not in just some ‘rural’ periphery. Using a back of the napkin style, I believe that about 60% of our population live in communities that are in population decline. This compares to about 6-8% or so in Ontario. Those are voter, my friends.

  4. Anonymous says:

    You make good points and could be right.

    However, reality and media are two different things. I personally don’t trust the census, I don’t even know anybody who has been contacted to participate, and I know many refused to because it’s a private company holding the info.

    So this is the first time that I may not put much faith in the census, although as you say, it will be hard to mask population decline.

    However, at the end of the day, what happens in an election is who Irving wants to support. Suddenly all kinds of positive stories pop up, and you’re the first one to point out the ‘rosy conditions’ that both the government and Irving espouse. You have to remember, most people are not interested in politics, most want nothing to do with it, and are even incensed when an election comes about.

    Add to that the fact that the ONLY coverage of NB people see is the printed press. The national media never touch NB, so people come to accept the slant. I know this because I talk to many people and often people have said the virtual opposite of what you are proclaiming in your blog. THOSE are voters.

    To be honest, I think Charles Leblanc’s website can very well lose the PC seats in Fredericton, now he has a camera and each week there are pictures of the poverty laden streets. If somebody were to do that in Moncton and Saint John and up north, I think the tories wouldn’t have a prayer, even with the Irving press. I don’t know if Moncton looks like that, but I suspect St. John does (in parts). Ten years ago at school I don’t remember seeing a single panhandler in Fredericton.

    However, as to why not just give into the ‘graft’, those are questions we don’t know. We have NO idea what happens inside those walls, and there is no way to figure any of this out. I mentioned before that Weir could very well have left because she figured she could do better as an insider-and she may be right. Lord may simply not LIKE Tanker, that’s very possible as well.

    Having MLA’s leave your party NEVER looks good, especially for an election. And of course Tanker still doesn’t have the clout to bring down the government, they still need one more since the speaker can defeat any motions.

    But I can see the points you make, and I agree its possible, maybe even probable, but I personally don’t see it that way.

  5. scott says:

    To be honest, I think Charles Leblanc’s website can very well lose the PC seats in Fredericton, now he has a camera and each week there are pictures of the poverty laden streets.

    Bah ha ha ha! That’s the funniest thing I’ve ever heard!!

    You really believe that Anonymous. If you do, I can see why you didn’t have the courage to make that statement under a real name.

    Wow, I’ve only been back a short time from Ottawa, but now I know why New Brunswick is not on the cutting edge of anything.

    Besides current University students, the intellectual level is at an all-time low in these parts.

    Keep awn clickin’ dem pickteurs Charles.

  6. David Campbell says:

    I guess at least on person agrees with me. From the Globe & Mail:

    “What makes it odd is there are so many other ways he could have dealt with Mr. Malley,” Prof. Desserud said. “He could have issued a statement saying he regrets Mr. Malley’s choice and it’s unfortunate Mr. Malley could not be accommodated … and then say nothing more. But to egg him on and fan the flames, it’s not what I would think a person teetering on defeat would do.”

    Prof. Desserud said it’s possible Mr. Lord may actually want an election. He said the Conservatives may present an election-style budget, then leave it to the Liberals and the Independents to defeat.