To the victor go the spoileds: Part 2

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.

5 thoughts on “To the victor go the spoileds: Part 2

  1. It is highly unlikely most of their platform will be implemented, its simply unrealistic. It really is unfortunate that other parties didn’t do as well, I’m really not sure whether people really ‘bought’ the platform, or simply knew damn well the other parties couldn’t win.
    As for ‘consultation’, that, I think, will be up to NBers. It was clear that he is in no more favour of consultation than Graham, he just pushed it when it seemed politically expedient-when 30,000 people join a facebook group within three weeks you just can’t ignore it.
    However, there IS a consultation process that doesn’t work great, but it IS a process. Lord held extensive forestry consultations, and unlike you would think, there really WAS consensus-the only disagreements came-surprise surprise, from the five lease holders. Graham killed most of those recommendations without ANY consultation, yet surprisingly the CBC, in their ‘list’, never bothered to mention that.
    Consultation works-to a point, but like I’ve said, a referendum is the best way to decide it at the end and it’ll be interesting to see how Alward handles his ‘populist’ agenda.

    Might as well mention here because the CBC comments are pretty much being run by the tories this morning, but anybody who thinks that this is ANY kind of victory for Alward should remember that he got 49% of the vote-which if I’m not mistaken is the SAME percentage who voted for Bernard Lord.

    In other words, despite one of the most seemingly incompetent governments in recent memory (perhaps any memory), Alward never gained his parties votes AT ALL. Hmm, maybe I WILL go post that nugget over at CBC.

  2. Re Self Sufficiency, David Alward is a Member of the Roundtable on Self-Sufficiency, now named NB2026. This Roundtable of 35 New Brunswickers has as a mandate to keep the flame alive, and he is committed to the goal and the process of engagement that will help ensure that we don’t fall back into the lassitude of “everything will be fine”.

  3. Good point. And I’ll just say as a fiscal conservative (who has his ear to the ground with the “true bluers” in Ottawa and the west), I and others will be watching this new government very closely on what their next move will be on tax policy and spending. I suspect if they choose to roll back the tax cuts, there will be room for them to continue with the reckless spending that has left our province in a fiscal jam. However, it would be nice to see this new regime go through public accounts line-by-line to see where they can save money before doing the lazy (and easy) thing and raise taxes. Let’s keep the growth of government in line with inflation.

  4. The make-up of the cabinet will tell us quite a bit. If the ‘Lordites’ are there in large numbers, then we can’t expect too much of a change from past practises. After all, they were masters of non-transparency and were responsible for hiding the mess at NB Power. Alward was part of that group; is there any evidence that he was pushing for a different approach on this file?

  5. ” I suspect if they choose to roll back the tax cuts, there will be room for them to continue with the reckless spending that has left our province in a fiscal jam.”

    Based on most historical precedents, tax cuts will decrease revenue w/o a sufficient long term stimulatory impact. I don’t see how that would encourage ‘reckless spending’. Unless, of course, the tax cuts result in a debt spiral that drives them insane, which in turn leads to ‘reckless spending’. Perhaps Alward will offer to host a G8 or G20 Summit; that would be in keeping with other ‘fiscal conservatives’.

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