It’s difficult for a Monctonian to formulate a reasoned and well-informed position on the current gridlock in the New Brunswick legislature if all we have to go on is the Times & Transcript. If we were to listen to Al Hogan, Bernard Lord and his Tories are like Arthur and his knights battling the evil forces – wait a minute would that make Tanker Lancelot?
But I digress.
Yours truly has actually read the Telegraph Journal, the Daily Gleaner and other sources on this situation and I think I have been able to craft a more balanced view.
The challenge is this. For all intents and purposes, the New Brunswick legislature is in a minority position only Bernard Lord doesn’t seem to understand this. Shawn Graham, on the other hand, doesn’t understand that this minority position only extends to the committees but not the full house (where Tanker presides).
In addition, polititical egos are larger than the Bay of Fundy. In a minority setting, you have to park your ego and make compromises to get things done. Bernard Lord should have made a few – at least token – changes to accommodate the Liberals and get his budget passed. His arrogant and belligerent posture – Al Hogan notwithstanding – is exacerbating the problem.
On the other hand, Shawn Graham and the Liberals should realize they are in an untenable situation themselves. They can hold up the budget indefinitely and make life miserable for the Premier (i.e. not ‘pairing’) but that will only result in one of two things: 1) Lord changes the rules that have been in place since Confederation or 2) the public starts to get antcy – particularly after reading the T&T day in and day out. Whether they like it or not, the Libs are starting to wear this as their problem.
So, it’s a war of attrition. Everyone waits for the CRA poll to come out to reveal Lord’s ‘Harper’ bounce – if any. Lord will probably call an election if the polls start to show him ahead. If they don’t, he’ll hold on for dear life. For those of you that can remember the last Tory Premier – you will remember him holding on to the last second despite the whole world imploding on him.
We just have to face the fact that our young, fresh-faced politicians have very little real world experience. They tend to revert to what they know – schoolyard politics – bullying, name calling, and most of all – never give an inch.
So, my solution?
Lord make a few compromises and Graham accept them and get on with it. There will be an election within 16 months or so – maybe sooner if either the CRA poll goes in Lord’s favour or if there is a Federal election and Lord goes against Smilin’ Brian Murphy.