Orimulsion – there is a point here

The Liberals are pushing hard on the Orimulsion thing this election. There are signs all over the place and now the papers are picking up on it. So, as I did when this scandal broke, I do have comments.

1) I don’t know that this is good politics. Negative campaigning using an issue that most NBers only have a vague idea about I don’t think will carry much impact. It’s a he said/he said kind of thing. Lord blames NB Power and says that he put the necessary changes in place. Further, he insinuates he will get the money back from Chavez. There’s no chance in heck of that but to Joe Q. Public that may be enough.

2) However, I think the issue here is accountability. As I recall, Lord shut down the hearings on Orimulsion and no one was fired or even formally reprimanded – let alone the Minister stepping down. In believe in other provinces, this would have called for serious action. Firings, Minister stepping down, inquiry with firm recommendations, etc. When a $2 billion mistake is made, the public needs to know that the government takes it seriously and acts decisively.

The Lord government banks on the fact that New Brunswick voters are rinky dink. That we don’t look beyond the glossy brochures and the hype. That we just don’t care enough about issues unless they hit us in the pocket book (like auto insurance). And when they do (like Orimulsion and NB Power electricity rates), we get a ‘tax break’ on electricity to ease the pain.

I know the average voter doesn’t spend a lot of time studying the issues. I realize they have more important things to do. But as I pointed out before, the average voter give more money to the government than grocery and housing expenses combined. We micro manage our post tax finances but care less about where our taxes are spent.

Make no mistake. Orimulsion was a billion dollar issue and will cost taxpayers a lot of dough. We should have been at least afforded the courtesy of a show of outrage.

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0 Responses to Orimulsion – there is a point here

  1. Anonymous says:

    You are a voter aren’t you? I think you may be succumbing to your own ‘insinuations’. Perhaps you agree that voters are ‘rinky dink’, but I don’t think so, if you do you are certainly wasting your time with a blog.

    Pointing out HUGE blunders about the previous government is hardly ‘negative campaigning’, or at least it is of a type that one should expect from an opposition party, how else would they get elected?

    If the government didn’t make those ‘show of outrages’ then thats a mistake, and unless you are involved in negative campaigning, there’s nothing wrong with pointing that out.

    The assumption you make seems to be that voters are too stupid to see beyond certain facts or opinions. In reality, New Brunswickers have NO idea what went on, only the shared story. So raising all these questions is exactly what should be done. The media should have been raising them all along, but, well, nuff said about that.

    Bringing out these issues during an election gets people analyzing them, and often more facts are brought to light, this is especially necessary when choosing whether those who made those decisions should continue making your decisions for you.

    The one specific comment I’d like to make is the analogy from Star Trek. Ultimately, as often said on the show, responsibility for every crewman rests on the Captain (Star Trek 6) I know this isn’t the military, but the Premier has incredible power, he can sack the executives at NB Power if he chooses, he can completely restructure them. Anybody that thinks a deal of this magnitude was done without his knowledge is cutting quite a bit of slack.

    Even if true, the next question is, why would voters choose a Premier that knows so little or has so little power over some of the most important aspects of people’s lives?

    The more the liberals talk about it, the more media talks about it, the more blogs talk about it, the more chance there is that people will take the time to look into the issue, or at least read what is available.

  2. David Campbell says:

    Whoa, hoss. I think you are misreading me. I do’t think voters are rinky dink or ‘too stupid’. I just think that the majority of them don’t see any personal benefit from engaging in the political process (i.e. full knowledge of the major issues of the day). And I think that politicians play on this by a) sticking to common, repetitious themes (regardless of their truthfulness) and b) trying to cobble together a whole bunch of small funding activities that target dozens of interest groups. I think that if the politicians could fund NASCAR and get get a few votes they would.

    As for Orimulsion – I stand by my original thesis. I think trying to convince the voter that the Premier was personally responsible for a decision made by NB Power’s management is difficult. Further, I think Lord should blame that crazy Hugo Chavez. I think that would resonate with at least some folks.

    Plus, I said it in the blog, I think heads should have rolled over Orimulsion. A $2 billion dollar mistake and virtually nothing happened?

    I just don’t know how many votes are to be had.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Ok, thats a little different, but now you are talking about what Lord should do, not the liberals. He did blame Chavez, but again, if you don’t have a signed deal you are out of luck.

    On another blog I saw that the executive at NB Power was actually replaced, so I’m not sure what to believe on that, and hopefully by voting time I will IF people talk about it.

    From the liberals view they should be talking about it, from the tories view, good luck trying to avoid it, and from the voters view, why wouldn’t voters want as much information as possible? Second guessing what the ‘majority of voters’ may or may not want could be a stretch, particularly when one thinks of how few people one knows.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Hi, I don’t feel the Lord government can escape culpability for the Orimulsion decision. They had every opportunity to stop NB Power from going ahead. Even before the hearings started in Jan 2002, long before the money was spent, the natural resources and energy minister was questioning whether NB Power had given enough consideration to using natural gas instead. See http://www.energyprobe.org/energyprobe/index.cfm?DSP=content&ContentID=3036

    I remember a CBC Information Morning item back then, where an intervener spoke rationally and compellingly about the advantages of natural gas, especially for us Saint Johners who would be breathing the air for years to come. I wonder if I can find it in the CBC archives or in a transcript from the hearings. The Liberals could make some hay by replaying it in their ads.

    I feel the PC government should have stopped Orimulsion before spending on a retrofit ever started, just because it was just plain wrong-headed from an environmental point of view.