Bernard Lord’s trial balloon

The was a small thread in the T&T recently that was interesting. First, some (likely the man himself) leaked that former Premier Lord was considering running in the next Federal election. Then, columnist Bill Belliveau wrote a savage rebuke of Lord which was followed up by the Conservative riding president with a Letter to the Editor that was highly offended by Belliveau.

First of all, I keep hearing that Daniel Allain has his eye on that riding. I don’t know Daniel that much but he seems to be a worthy candidate. I am not sure that Lord is as good a candidate as the riding president seems to believe. Certainly Belliveau’s column was cast through a jaded lense but some of his points were valid.

Ironically, I disagree with Belliveau on the tax thing. I believe Lord’s three biggest weaknesses (there were one time deals like Orimulsion and the toll highway which were major boo boos but I am talking about overall issues) were: 1) he was a big time spender and 2) he lacked vision and 3) indecision.

The provincial budget went up by something like 40% under Lord at a time when the population declined. Now, some have discounted this but what it really means is that government spending rose almost three times faster than overall economic spending. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist (and with my elementary school level blog I certainly don’t qualify) to see that at the same rate of spending growth coupled with population decline, in 20 years or so it will cost three times to see the doctor in New Brunswick than in Ontario. Further, most of the money needed to pay for this whopping increase in spending will have to come from Equalization and other federal sources because own source revenue is increasing more slowly than the overall budget. Hence, the new Premier’s call for self-sufficiency. I like to call Lord a “tax cut and spend” Tory.

Secondly, I never felt he had a vision for New Brunswick. Sure, he had ‘prosperity plans’ and could talk a big game but in the end, there wasn’t much there. Cut small biz taxes and cross your fingers seemed to be the vision.

Third, just about every impartial observer of politics from journalists to pundits says that Lord just couldn’t make a decision. After the 200 days of Change in 1999, it was all down hill. On forestry, Lepreau, auto insurance and more it was a full fledged paralysis. After Lord’s loss, I talked with a former senior person in the leadership up in Freddy who told me that Lord’s indecision was his biggest flaw.

But, there is a world of difference between being an MP and a Premier. The latter requires leadership, the ability to make hard decisions, the requirement to understand major trends and influences and the ability to gain concensus among caucus. The former requires monthly newsletters and the occassion party line vote.

So, I don’t know if Lord would win. Murphy is deceptively well-liked. Lord might get swept up in a Tory swell but don’t count on it. If you look closely, what has the Tory government done for Moncton lately?