I had a long chat with a guy a couple of days ago who thinks this election cycle was the most acrimonious he had ever seen. I am not sure about that – I think we tend to forget the tension and the heated rhetoric that occurs most elections. Certainly, New Brunswick is tame by U.S. standards.
It is true that politicians try to boil stuff down to hot buttons that will trigger a reaction in the swing voters. The truth is that there is a group of folks that will virtually always vote Liberal, a core constituency for the PCs, and the NDP. That (ever increasing) middle is what they are vying for.
I haven’t made it a secret that I dislike when politicans run roughshod over complex but potentially important public policy debates for political gain. Scrapping the toll highway has cost New Brunswickers hundreds of millions in lost revenue and increased debt servicing costs – and how many votes did it really get Lord in the end?
The Liberals promising a public auto insurance system – did it really swing the balance?
The NB Power/Hydro Quebec deal was the most juicy hot button of all. Only 17% of New Brunswickers in the last poll said they had a good understanding of what was being proposed and yet a vast majority were against the deal.
We will never know, but that might be the costliest of all. I’ll probably write more about this in the coming days. Someone sent me a snide email this week saying “I’ll bet you are changing your view on NB Power now”.
Nope. I still haven’t seen anything to convince me that selling NB Power to Hydro Quebec was bad public policy. As I said all along, we needed to clarify a few things such as the rate escalation methodology and the sourcing of power outside the Heritage Pool but the general idea of plugging into HQ’s lower cost structure and eliminating all of the debt was too important. New Brunswick, in my opinion, will be paying more for electricity now than it would have under a HQ model and we all are going to pay – either as ratepayers or taxpayers.
No matter who wins tomorrow, I’ll be out there chipping away on the economic development file as I have for years. I’ll be against the government on many issues and I’ll be supportive of others. Just like the last administration, just like the Lord government, and, quite frankly, just like the McKenna government.
While it was pre-blogging days, I was not happy with the way that Premier McKenna exited and the economic development agenda just collapsed. One BNB worker told me it was like someone popping a ballooon.
McKenna should have spent more time grafting a culture of economic development focus in government instead of vesting it in himself. To this day, everyone in the system seems to be waiting for the second coming of Frank on a white horse.
He’s not coming. We need to get away from the charismatic leader idea of economic development.
Don’t forget to vote tomorrow. While it may sound cliched, it really does matter in a democracy.