I occassionally get the chance to listen to the weekly political panel on CBC radio. Last week, the three panelists discussed a variety of issues including a debate on the new poll suggesting that Liberal leader Shawn Graham is now more popular that current Premier Bernard Lord.
This discussion had the usual partisan fodder but one comment by Brent Taylor (Tory cum COR cum Tory pundit) nearly had me run the car off the road. In his discourse about the merits of Premier Lord, he suggested that he thought the Premier was much better suited than Shawn Graham to negotiate Equalization funding and transfer payments from Ottawa.
So that is what we have come to in this province. We need to select as our Premier the person who can extract the best pogie ‘deal’ out of Ottawa. This coming from a Tory, the supposed party of business, is all the more astonishing.
I put forward a slightly different vision of leadership. Leadership is not negotiating more welfare out of Ottawa. Leadership would be partnering with Ottawa on a long term strategy to fix the economic problems in New Brunswick. Leadership would be renegotiating the very successful Regional Economic Development Agreements (REDAs) with Ottawa – monies that are exclusively used for economic development (the last one lapsed during the current Premier’s tenure). If the Premier is such a skilled negotiator, why didn’t he renegotiate a REDA?
In the medium to long term, slightly better equalization/transfer payments will only continue to mask the serious underlying economic problems facing this province. I only hope that whoever takes over from the current Premier (Liberal or Tory) will take our economy more seriously.