A Tory win in the next election is not ‘automatic’

A Progressive Conservative win in the next provincial election is not “automatic,” says former premier Bernard Lord.

This is the opening line in a TJ story this morning. I had to rub my eyes are read it again. This must be the TJ’s version of comedy.

I must be so far removed from reality on this issue. I thought the Tories would need to go through a sober reflection on itself and how it would reposition the party in the wake of the Liberals co-opting small c conservative themes like flat taxes and economic self-sufficiency. And when I saw there were only two people running to lead the provincial Tories and one has boldly stated he didn’t want to put a platform out for people to consider – I just assumed that Tory insiders were settling in for a long Cochrane/Valcourt like time in the wilderness.

And now I read that a Tory win in the next election is not ‘automatic’.

I am a non-partisan guy. I criticized Tories when they were in and Liberals now that they are in. I have voted for both parties (provincial/national) – depending on which candidate was running.

But I don’t get this attitude. Maybe it’s just Lord trying to rally the troops or something. Maybe it is delusion or maybe I just don’t get it.

Don’t get me wrong – I said on these pages that if the Tories had put up a leader with a broad-based appeal in both English and French New Brunswick, they might, might have had a chance. Two years is a lifetime in politics after all and I do believe the French Immersion and Uranium mine issues are ‘carbon tax-like’ concepts that the opposition can just hammer over and over and over.

But, please Tory partisans tell me, how MacLeod or Alward can transform into a charismatic provincial leader that will bring along a wide swath of the electorate? Give old Bernie his due. He could talk the talk and engage people in both official languages, anyway. Plus, he had 12 years of belt-tightening, amalgamating, forced RCMP, toll busters, etc. etc. etc. to pivot off.

New Brunswickers are very conservative in the sense that we don’t like change. We don’t change our politicians very often, we don’t change our telephone provider and we tend to buy from the same car company (that is changing with the young uns).

It is true that Lord almost lost after one term – but I think the auto insurance issue became a serious wedge issue in that election. I am not sure right now that there will be a similar one for the Tories in 2010.

Instead of this faux confidence, Bernie would have been far better off saying it will be a hard slog to win in 2010. He should have said it will take a massive effort to overturn the Libs. By telling the base that it is not ‘automatic’, he is not doing the new leader any favours.