One last desperate swipe

Al’s We Say in the T&T:

We Say:
On Monday, New Brunswick voters will choose what approach to government they want
A clear choice for N.B. voters

On Monday, New Brunswick voters will choose a government for the next four years by either re-electing incumbent Premier Bernard Lord and the Progressive Conservatives or electing Opposition Leader Shawn Graham and the Liberals. Both Mr. Lord and Mr. Graham are capable, intelligent, earnest, hard-working, and sincere men who can be depended upon to work for the best interests of the province. Their intentions are beyond reproach and both wish to move New Brunswick forward, socially and economically.

As to the platforms, many have commented upon how remarkably similar they are on key issues. However, as voters go to the polls, there is a significant difference between the two platforms that will determine what kind of government New Brunswickers elect – an important difference of philosophy and approach for achieving the goals rather than a difference in the goals themselves.

It is clear that Premier Lord and the PC’s have a plan that will move the province ahead while still reducing the tax load on citizens and the amount people must pay to government, whereas the proposals put forth by Mr. Graham and the Liberals offer the same intent and direction but no savings to citizens. Liberal proposals will mean more expenditure and bigger government.

Both parties want to increase the number of doctors and nurses, for example (and the Lord government has already had success in this area) as well as take other measures to reform and improve the health care system. The premier has already shown he can take the tough decisions needed and has taken considerable heat in some areas. That may hurt him in some ridings, yet we note that Mr. Graham has been careful not to promise that he will reverse those changes. He too knows the tough decisions are unavoidable.

As well, the province’s relations with the federal government are better today than they have been in many years, a positive situation that will surely pay off for New Brunswick which still very much needs goodwill in Ottawa to help it move forward.

Our economy is significantly better than it was 10 years ago and voters should look at the Nova Scotia example. A decade ago Nova Scotia was the gem of the Maritimes, the place with good roads, the best economy, and better indicators on most fronts. Not today. New Brunswick has become the province to envy. And it has done so via the Conservative philosophy of spurring investment and growth via leaner government and reducing the tax burden on citizens. Nova Scotia meanwhile has chosen to try spending its way to prosperity and has fallen behind. The Liberal approach in this election reflects a similar spend-to-recovery philosophy.

For those reasons, we believe that Premier Bernard Lord is the better choice for voters in this election; that he is the one who will move New Brunswick forward in the most cost-effective fashion while giving citizens needed tax relief. The approach has worked to date and will continue to do so, whereas the spend to prosperity with increased government has clearly not done nearly as well in our neighbouring province.

The question for voters Monday is about the approach government will use to move us ahead. It is about what kind of government voters want. It is Premier Lord’s approach that we believe will serve the province and public best.

In think it’s important in New Brunswick and particularly in Moncton to debate the role of the media. If you look at the CBC, there’s a balanced approach. The Telegraph-Journal has a highly balanced review this morning. The Times & Transcript – Al Hogan – has cranked up the rhetoric to the point of absolute lies to get his man elected.

In 2003, the We Say also endorsed Lord but because Al assumed that Lord would win big, he was much more gracious. Now, he’s just gone plain silly and I really believe that Monctonians are worse off for it.

This is not about an election or a political party. It’s about a newspaper that systematically distorts the economic issues in New Brunswick to feed a political or ideological agenda. It’s about a newspaper that will actually ignore vital economic stories – stories that will get full page coverage in other media outlets in the province.

It’s about a newspaper that will slash and bitterly hammer trivial local matters and either ignore or actually endorse bad policies at a provincial level.

I have always maintained that a newspaper can have some bias. It’s normal. But when that bias becomes obsession or when that bias means that Monctonians are being denied legitimate news, that’s a problem.

Someone told me that Al Hogan has dumbed down the T&T. He as transformed it into a profitable tabloid-style newspaper.

Moncton is not a place to be dumbed down. I resent that and I resent Al Hogan for trying to dumb us down. He should be dumbed down and sent packing to some other place where he can sow his crap without effect.

The next few years will be critical for Moncton – regardless of who wins this election. The call centre industry boom is coming to an end and the province has no plan to grow any new economic sectors. This should be the overriding issue of the Monday election in Moncton. AOL has announced it will cut 5,000 jobs globally. Will that affect Moncton? Who knows. Air Canada’s call centre in Saint John has dropped from close to 700 employees to 200 or so.

What’s next should be the matra of the Times & Transcript but instead we get partisan and ideologically motivated drivel.

Now, to comment on a few of Al’s half-truths and outright lies:

Our economy is significantly better than it was 10 years ago and voters should look at the Nova Scotia example. A decade ago Nova Scotia was the gem of the Maritimes, the place with good roads, the best economy, and better indicators on most fronts. Not today. New Brunswick has become the province to envy. And it has done so via the Conservative philosophy of spurring investment and growth via leaner government and reducing the tax burden on citizens. Nova Scotia meanwhile has chosen to try spending its way to prosperity and has fallen behind.

On any measure, this is an outright lie. Nova Scotia has seen considerably better job growth. Nove Scotia has four-lane highway from tip to tip (Amherst to Halifax) – New Brunswick doesn’t. Nova Scotia’s need for Equalization has risen slightly – New Brunswick’s significantly. Nova Scotia is on the road to self-sufficiency. New Brunswick is increasingly dependent. Nova Scotia’s population declined 0.1% from 1996 to 2001 and NB’s declined 1.2%. Further, based on what I have seen, NS is set for a small population turnaround from 2001 to 2006 while New Brunswick’s population will fall (these numbers will be out next year).

Nova Scotia’s GDP growth has been higher than New Brunswick’s from 1999 to 2006.

Nova Scotia is in the top three or four provinces in Canada for R&D spending – New Brunswick is dead last.

Nova Scotia scores higher than New Brunswick on health outcomes and educational performance since 1999.

And, near to my heart, Nova Scotia has been kicking New Brunswick’s butt in job creation – the 1,200 Research in Motion jobs are the clearest example.

….leaner government

Holy cow. What province does Al Hogan live in? La la land? Government spending, inflation adjusted, is up in an unprecedented fashion since 1999. Government funded jobs are up by something like 8,000 positions. I absolutely couldn’t believe this one.

…reducing the tax burden on citizens.
Even this, I think is debatable. Gas taxes are way up. Property taxes for many have doubled in seven years. Licenses and fees are way up. But even if that is true, he has done it by increasing our dependence on the Federal government.

Who envies New Brunswick? This is ludicrous. The Economic Development Minister in Quebec recently said he wanted to be like Frank McKenna but that’s not today’s New Brunswick.

Once again, the We Say looks like it was penned in the Premier’s Office.

If given a choice between booting the Tories out of office and dumping Al Hogan, I would choose dumping Al Hogan.

If the Tories get re-elected, it will be a legitimate act of the voters. Where does Al Hogan get his legitimacy? From Jamie Irving?

Jamie Irving gets to decide what kind of mind numbing garbage gets hoisted on the citizens of Moncton?

If Jamie Irving had any sense, he would dump Al Hogan and put an editor in there that would serve up Monctonians smart news. Well thought out stories. Investigative reporting. Challenging our government. Raising the key issues of the day.

Many of you tell me to move on. To get over it. That Al Hogan’s influence is minimal at best.

I disagree. That rag was the very impetus to start this blog. I found in the local paper – again politics aside – nothing of value about local and provincial economic issues.

And I will continue to use this platform to criticize Al Hogan. The blog’s title is “It’s the Economy, Stupid” but if Al Hogan is allowed to continue I may have to change it to “It’s the Stupid Economy”.

And I am not going to do that without a fight.

Nova Scotia? I have never heard anyone – not even Lord – pretend that New Brunswick has faired better than Nova Scotia -with its mostly Tory leaders – in the past seven years.