One of the interesting things about Canadian politics is the wide variation between the parties and their ideology depending on where you are within the country. A Progressive Conservative in Alberta has only the most basic ties with a PC in New Brunswick. They may speak the same language but they face stark differences in the political landscape and in what they have to say and do to get elected and stay elected.
I’d say the same holds for the NDP. The western Canadian NDP party with its support of uranium mining and oil and gas development seems quite detached from the NDP party in NB. However, the Nova Scotia example shows that even down here if the NDP wants to win they have to tack to the centre.
The Libs seems to ebb and flow a bit more wherever they may be across the country.
Former Premier Bernard Lord was one such conflicted PC. When he gave a rousing speech to the Conservative convention he was heralded as the next big thing. Then, in 2004-2005 when he came out as a fierce, national defender of Equalization – saying in the national media that NB had a Constitutional right to some of Alberta’s oil wealth – he was technically right but he did damage to his conservative bona fides at least in Alberta. Of course, he keeps floating the idea that he may run again after Harper steps down. It will be interesting to see if he is able to whitewash that teeny leftist regression from his resume.
David Alward faces the same challenge. Over 100,000 NBers collect EI during the course of the year. Thirty-eight percent of families received at least some EI income in 2010. In Miramichi, it was 48% of families. In non-CMA/CA areas (out of urban areas), 52% of families received EI income. I find it hard to believe the Premier of Alberta would take a different stance on EI than Alward facing that reality. Then again, maybe she would have never been elected in the first place.
A Liberal friend of mine scoffed at what he called the hypocrisy of the NB PCs demanding the federal Conservatives roll back the EI reforms.
If you are an NDP in Saskatchewan or BC you are likely going to be a fan of uranium mining or natural gas exploration and production. You may put a tougher spin on the development of those industries but if you take a hard line against them – good luck trying to get elected (as opposed to New Brunswick where the Liberals see political advantage from a hard line stance against the development of the natural gas industry – another interesting quirk of politics).
In the end, I think Premier Alward is taking the only stance he could if he wants to stay in power. Some of the biggest name politicians in NB history have been thrown under the bus for even tinkering with EI (i.e. Doug Young).
It is unlikely the Feds will change their mind anyway but at least Alward will say he vehemently opposed the changes and hope that holds him in good stead.
I hope the Feds will eventually come to the conclusion that the process they used wasn’t the right one. I’ve detailed my views on this elsewhere. I believe the EI system is a barrier to economic development in rural and Northern NB but I think government has done virtually nothing to prove that and nothing to show it can be changed without hurting the economy even more.