In the spirit of consistency I’ll say today what I said after Graham defeated Lord in 2006. Congratulations to the victor and I’ll thank Shawn Graham for his service to New Brunswick (and other losing candidates last night).
Politics is a tough business – I think that is what keeps a lot of candidates from running. There were signs springing up all over Moncton talking about how Graham Sold Out New Brunswick and my 14 year old daughter wanted me to explain it to her. I mumbled something unintelligable and then asked about Justin Beiber.
My mother used to say “there is many a slip between the cup and the lip” and that applies here. The self-sufficiency agenda was the right strategic framework – I maintain that and hope the new government sticks to the spirt of it if not the label. Or should I say reinvigorates it as we never did move much towards self-sufficiency.
For the new team, I hope they don’t see this election win as a win for mediocrity. Graham’s team put out a lot of big ideas – most were roundly rejected by New Brunswickers. That could signal to the new team that they shouldn’t do anything bold -just move forward and hope for the best. That would be a mistake.
The other interesting fact of this election – is that it is not a whole new slate of Tories. It is likely that most of Alward’s cabinet will be the same as those in Lord’s cabinet. This isn’t 1999 or 2003.
What do I like about the incoming Tories – from their platform?
InvestNB – we need to refresh the entire economic development model – hopefully this will be done. We spend a huge amount of money between $200M and $300M on economic development each year in this province. I think we could have a much better model.
Energy – I was part of the consultation process and liked much of what I was hearing. I didn’t like the three year rate freeze – that was the most politically motivated decision of the election. NB Power is ‘under water’ – it has more debt than the book value of its assets. It would be like you having a mortgage for $200,000 on a house worth $125,000. In addition, that house is coming up for major renovations in the next 10 years or so and you don’t have the money to pay for it. The three year rate freeze would be like you moving to paying just the interest on your mortgage and pushing off the principal payment for three years.
Deferring problems is an all to common reality in New Brunswick politics.
Other than that, I am not sure. The promise to consult, I guess, is good but there are New Brunswickers that are never going to like tough decisions. Raising taxes, cutting spending, raising electricity rates, closing hospitals, municipal government reform – these things are going to get push back – a lot of push back but governments have to make tough decisions.
It’s a new day in New Brunswick. I hope it’s a fresh start. I wish Alward and the team the best of luck as they begin to take on these challenges.