Odds & ends

Once again it seems that Al Hogan and I are at opposite ends of the spectrum. I said the other day that maybe we should rethink how we get funds from Ottawa – it seems much easier to get money for highways than for R&D, for example and that we should push for a different model. Al says:

Thus, it seems, the province will attempt to get its federal funds piecemeal and via assistance for such things as continued twinning of highways, crucial infrastructure for growing economic activity.

So, in Al’s mind having more twinned highways is more important than attracting industry or boosting R&D or having a more effective approach to immigration.

As I said before, twinned highways are important. I would like to see a four lane highway from Moncton to Edmundston across the top of NB. But I do see this disturbing trend of New Brunswick being able to get money for the not so critical stuff and going up against a brick wall for money for stuff that I deem to be critical. And not to put too fine a point on it but giving New Brunswick $100 million to twin a highway would be ignored in Ontario. Giving New Brunswick $100 million to support a bid to attract the next KIA plant would be met with outrage in Ontario.

On a lighter note, the CAW is deeply opposed to free trade with South Korea. I am not being cynical here either but it would seem to me that if that next KIA plant came to Canada and if it was unionized – the CAW would be thrilled. But because it won’t be, the CAW is deeply opposed. At some point, you would think the CAW would be able to look at this stuff with a slightly wider lense – but maybe that’s not their job.

Dithering in politics
Someone asked me yesterday why Premier Graham was so quick to back track on his post-secondary education plan. I don’t know. I have never had a conversation with the Premier let alone have an understanding of his thought process. All I can say is that these guys aren’t good at dropping trial balloons. They should get better.

For example, Premier Lord wanted to deeply cut agricultural subsidies in his first budget. He announced the cuts, the farmers drove their tractors up to Freddy Beach, there was a major rally and the Premier announced he would ‘study’ the issue and it quietly dropped out of view.

McKenna wanted to make Snow Birds pay for health insurance when they are in Florida. He thought it was wrong for them to be spending all their money there half the year and still get full Medicare coverage. He announced this, the seniors came to Fredericton and waved their canes and walkers at him and he announced he would ‘study’ the issue and it quietly dropped out of view.

In fact, it seems like Bernard Lord left his playbook on his desk in the Premier’s Office and Shawn Graham picked it up. The basic play is this:

1. Don’t do anything until there is a crisis (and by crisis I mean constant media criticism). Until said crisis try and keep things under wraps (think health care, auto insurance, education, forestry, population, ect.)

2. When it becomes unavoidable, then announce you are going to study it (set up a year long commission) – hope it dies down.

3. If it doesn’t die down, announce you will restudy it (think the current rethink of the post secondary review). Wait another six months.

4. If you still can’t get resolution, announce you are making the much needed changes – but over ten years (like the prosperity plan, education plan, etc.). Then avoid any accountability on it until you get booted out of office (in less than the ten years).

Then everyone forgets about the 10 year plans and the new guy (thinking ahead) will put a 20 year plan in place. Then start over at point #1.

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0 Responses to Odds & ends

  1. richard says:

    Everyone wants twinned highways, so its natural for unimaginative governments to go that route. Anyone who checks out the videcams on NB highways (yea, I get bored sometimes) would, however, wonder why the 4-laners were built.

    An auto plant, or any major plant, would have to be on a twinned road. Now that NB has a few of those, perhaps Mr Graham can find a way to put them to use. He only has a few more months to get some going to give people hope; otherwise, its off to AB for more NBers.

  2. NB taxpayer says:

    They [Liberals] chose to study everything right out of the gate. That is their own doing.

    If anything, all the problems they got themselves into was due to lack of direction, lack of policy and lack of a plan.

    They shouldn’t have done nothing while in opposition. That should have spent the time butting heads over policy and where the party is headed in the future.

    It’s quite obvious they are a government who slapped a half ass election platform together at the last minute. Not to mention, they are leaving everything else up to academics, lawyers, principles, presidents and consltants. This is no way to govern. These types of people are only around when the task force $$$ is being rolled out. They should not be the ones who chart out the direction the province is headed. They are not visionaries.

    For the record, do you think Manning or Harper didn’t think about mandatory minimums, senate reform, constitutional issues, their own defence white paper, tough on crime legislation etc. while in opposition? I think it is pretty self-explanatory since I witnessed most of those private members bills get killed in the house throughout the 90s.

    At this point, people should start asking: what are Graham’s policy issues outside of what is being spoon fed to him by unaccountable lawyers and consultants?

    Sorry to be so blunt, but I just don’t see the personal vision there.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Mr Graham has flirted with controversy and been bitten so I doubt if we will see anything that is radically new or exciting from him again during this term. With one year of his mandate gone he only has to sit through this next year and then it will be a run in to the next election. All he has to do is talk the talk, he wont see a need to walk the walk. 4 laners are a visible sign of ‘progress’ in certain sectors and its a vote catcher too.
    I hope I’m wrong.

  4. richard says:

    “…do you think Manning or Harper didn’t think about mandatory minimums, senate reform, …. while in opposition?”

    Well, of course, they were in opposition for a very, very, very long time. I’m still not sure either did any thinking about policy during that period; Manning formed all his ideas before the age of majority, Harper likewise (although Harper clearly is better at tactics than the hapless Manning).

    If Graham does have a plan, its well-hidden. He made few specific promises, so he can choose to give NB more of the same, or he can spend some political capital and do something. Perhaps the ‘consultants’ are an exercise in political cover, perhaps not.

  5. nbt says:

    Well, of course, they were in opposition for a very, very, very long time.

    So were the progressive conservatives under Charest and Clark (same amount of time in the house), and the shelves in their offices were void of any solid policy papers or work. A minority report to them was somethoing that Tom Cruise stared in.

    Maybe it’s because they were still of the belief that people would automatically come back to their party because they would get sick of the rascals on the other side. Nice strategy that.

    Gee, that strategy sounds familiar? Could it be?

  6. richard says:

    “So were the progressive conservatives ….. shelves in their offices were void of any solid policy papers or work”

    Were they now? How do you know that? And as far as “solid” policy papers goes, those were few and far between from Harper or Manning. They simply resuscitated every piece of hard right and libertarian crap they could find. Harper is NOT PM now because of “solid” policy, but because the voters got fed up with 10 years of Liberals. Who wouldn’t? But to suggest that Haper won and Clark failed because of ‘policy'; well, that is simply at variance with the facts.