Floating your own trial balloon

I don’t blame the media but when you read about “sources” indicate that person x or person y is considering a run at the Tory leadership, it is likely the actual person him or herself. This is now standard fare in New Brunswick. You are your own deep throat.

Phone rings. A deep gravelly voice on the other end says “I hear that Bernard Lord is considering a second run at the Tory Leadership” cough cough. “Is that you Bernard?” is the reply. A hasty hang up.

Yes. We read again today that Bernard Lord himself is considering another kick at the can. Maybe after seven years of dithering and a 38% rise in government spending (over double the rate of the economy as a whole), he has learned a few things.

One thing is for sure. If Bernie runs again, there will lots of fodder for discussion on this blog. As you may have noticed, I am far more critical of dithering and inaction than I am of action that may not achieve the desired result. Better to have loved and lost than not to have loved at all, the old saying goes.

It was frustrating for me to sit back and watch the early 2000s unfold. Across Canada, the country was achieving record levels of population growth. Own source government revenues were up across the board. The economy was, for the most part, very strong.

Meanwhile, in New Brunswick, stagnant population actually slipped into population decline as we ran up a 15 year streak of net-out migration. Our economy underperformed the national economy five of the seven years Bernard was in power. And, most annoyingly, almost all of the ‘big’ leadership issues of the day (economic development, post-secondary education, French Immersion, forestry management/development, energy, etc.) were left to simmer on the backburner – some were studied to death. Some were given ‘strategies’ and ‘targets’ that were ridiculous (like worst to third in Canada for education test scores and worst to third in Canada for R&D spending) others were just ignored.

This left the opposition chomping at the bit and they came in guns ablazin’. Post-secondary, bang. Energy, bang. French Immersion, bang. Health, bang. We will wait and see if a) any/all of it actually happens and b) what the political fall out could be.

I now hear Tories telling people not to worry. They will reverse French Immersion, put the brakes on post-secondary reform, find a new health model. And forget about uranium mining (a dark horse problem for the Liberals).

But cajoling various aggrieved special interest groups is not leadership. The Tories exploited similar wounds in 1999 (remember Toll Busters?). It may get you into power by cobbling together a room full of angry men and women but it won’t lead you to good government.

So, I think whomever emerges as the Tory leader needs to forget the temptation to ride the Toll Busters wave and craft his/her own vision for how to move New Brunswick forward. Seriously. The silliness that we have witnessed has been staggering.

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0 Responses to Floating your own trial balloon

  1. Anonymous says:

    A provincial government in a tiny province like NB has limited resources and the potential to do more harm than good.

    What has the potential for significantimpact is more effective relations with the Feds. Other provinces (PEI, NFLD, PQ) have done a far better job of getting Federal dollars flowing into their provinces. I realize each of the examples I gave have special circumstances. However, NB needs to identify their strategy and get the Federal money flowing.

    So, my vote will be for the government that has a solid ED strategy and the support, or potential support, of the Feds. Lord failed terribly with the Fed support task; two examples are screwing up $100M in child care support and $1B for Lepreau, both of which the Martin government made public commitments to support.

  2. mikel says:

    TONS of things have potential for significan impact. I’d actually like to see numbers because I don’t think that’s true about federal contributions. The biggest problem in fed/prov politics is WE never know WHAT is going on. We dont’ know why deals fall through, we don’t know what goes on behind closed doors. We get the media filter, which comes from government, and that’s it.

    But that is VERY naive of David. NB may be small, but its not so small that politicians need to float their own balloons. How reliable these things are is a good question-the Irving rags are full of VERY bad journalism, I wouldn’t put it past a reporter for not having a source AT ALL and saying something like that for interest.

    It wouldn’t be surprising though. I doubt Irvings like this David Alward much, he’s a private woodlot owner who has made a lot of noise. The new mayor of Saint John isn’t exactly a pal, and his pummeling of the ‘in the Irving pocket’ previous mayor by Saint Johners has Irving worried enough that they are sucking up with a new development deal.

    Lord would be a pretty safe bet, and about the only guy who may have a chance against Alward. Lord was also VERY well paid by the party, and you GOTTA know who was the biggest contributor to the party (despite the Irvings claim that its ‘public information’ WE can’t actually answer that question for sure).

    But politics is a murky business, its almost NEVER what it seems. Lord may not even KNOW that the comment was made-may even think its hysterical. He packed up and left even after getting the majority vote, and ‘quitters’ don’t usually fare well. The trouble is, local politics has to compete with other forms of newstainment, so you need lots of rumours and innuendo, otherwise nobody pays it any attention. How often have we read about McKenna or virtually ANY politician ‘thinking of making a comeback’ or such rubbish. It’s almost never true, but it sells papers.

    Finally, I’d REALLY have to disagree with David on his Lord assessment. There is virtually NO evidence this government acts much different than the tories. The only examples quoted are social policies that just ‘stirred things up’-if THAT is considered better just because it stirred people up then NB is is DEEP trouble.

    The Saint John school thing was a report, not government policy. Educational reform is MOSTLY just bad, but increased spending was put in, which is something.

    The liberals pretty much act exactly as the tories and liberals before them-privatize, corporate welfare, no new policies. Lord kept nackawic and Campbellton going, brought in Molson. The liberals have continued privatization policies and get even worse grades for the so called ‘democratic deficit’.

    Both parties are virtually identical, remember that it took THIS government two years to establish ANY policies. Lord and Graham don’t just look alike, they govern alike. The only difference is they cranked up the energy rhetoric, but not much, but again, only time will tell how good a policy THAT is. FatKat may want to think about PEI just to get away from the refineries.