I know I harp on this a lot but I think it matters. Particularly now that the Tories in New Brunswick are about to elect a new leader.
I just heard Jeannot Volpe railing against the possibility of any private sector involvement in health care delivery. Even something as simple as a real estate company owning the building in which health care takes place and leasing it to government. That’s nuts. That is about as anti a traditional conservative viewpoint as you could imagine.
I think that the Lord/Volpe team missed the point. They became the traditional caricature of the Liberals and that confusion led to their downfall (at least in part IMO).
Conservativism used to be:
Living within our means (personally and collectively): under Lord/Volpe Equalization payments increased by hundreds of millions.
Limited government: under Lord/Volpe government spending expanded at over 3 times the rate of inflation. Public sector job creation ballooned and now we have second highest ratio of provincial government employment in North America.
Pro-business: Volpe has ranted against the ‘influence of large corporations’ and railed against the concept of trying to keep industrial energy costs competitive.
It shows a very low level of political maturity to oppose a position taken by the incubment government just because they are taking that position. For a Progressive Convervative leader (albeit interim) to be railing against the private sector is crazy. If the Liberals are co-opting certain conservative ideas (private health care, flat taxes, etc.), then the PCs should be rejoicing – or pushing harder.
The PCs in New Brunswick have got to get back to their core beliefs: limit government, living within our means, pro-business, less confusion on taxes, freer markets, etc. Otherwise, what’s the point?
If the next leader of the Tories – for perceived political points – mirrors the Lord/Volpe big government, expansionary Tories – I would be disappointed. Who knows? Maybe that kind of fearmongering, pork barreling, type of politics will get the PCs back into office. But it won’t do anything to help us address our collective problems and it certainly won’t be consistent with any ‘conservative’ ideals that I know.