Friday, August 04, 2006

The march towards September 18th

It is starting to look more and more to me like September 18 will be election day.

Highlights from today's news:

  • There are lots of municipal politicians moving to the provincial scene; Southwestern mayors are running for the Liberals (Sackville's Jamie Smith in the infamous riding of Tantramar, Salisbury's Terry Keating in Petitcodiac and Hillsborough's Donna Bennett in Albert) while former Fredericton city councillor Mike Smith is going after T. J. Burke in the new district of Fredericton-Nashwaaksis (largely the same as Burke's old Fredericton North riding). Yesterday's papers also said that Quispamsis Councillor Mary Schreyer would be running against Brenda Fowlie in the newly shrunk district of Quispamsis (formerly Kennebecasis and included the outskirts of town)
  • The Tories have roled out blue government signs heralding investments in highways. Transportation Minister Paul Robichaud says that the blue represents the sky or the water adjacent to nice new roads. Sounds fishy and, if they're such a great idea, why didn't we see them in construction seasons 2000 through 2005?
  • Cabinet met yesterday and the premier wouldn't talk to reporters; ministers were coy but hinted an election was coming soon. They have their defence line for calling an early election: Consumer Affairs Minister Bruce Fitch, in reference to the fact that a Liberal by-election victory could give the Liberals a majority, said "It wouldn't be fair to have one riding determine who makes the decisions for the province of New Brunswick. The people should decide that."
  • Ministers are also testing out their campaign refrain, borrowing the Mike Harris strategy that saved him from certain defeat in 1999, they plan to portray Shawn Graham as not up to the job. Here are some bytes:
    • "People are telling me they do embrace the vision of premier Lord," Mockler said. Mockler then tried out what is expected to be a Tory refrain on the campaign trail. "Leadership is who can best defend the files of your province," Mockler said, adding that Liberal Leader Shawn Graham is still "trying to find a vision."
    • "When you look at the leadership issue, the premier is head and shoulders above the leader of the opposition," said Justice and Consumer Affairs Minister Bruce Fitch.


Anonymous said...

Has anybody actually said what the tory vision is? Oh right... Prosperity! Oh, no, wait, that's not it....

Spinks said...

In fairness anon, do the Liberals have one either? Both probably do but neither seems very good at articulating it. The first one out of the gate that can actually present one like Harper did has the best chance of forming the next government IMHO.

Anonymous said...

IMGO that's rubbish. Harper? This is provincial stuff so we'll leave that alone. Unlike federal politics there aren't four parties that will divide the province in a minority government. This is New Brunswick, which means there really can't be a minority government-at least not at election time.

The opposition party doesn't really have to show 'vision', not when the governing party has been this incompetent. All they have to show is that they 'aren't as bad as conservatives'. In fact, you can bet as far as the silly 'vision' theme goes, all the liberals have to do is put a picture of Lord with a caption "Lord has a vision for the future" and then list his salary underneath. Listing all the other Premiers would just be gravy.

As far as articulation, just go to the liberal website, it's all there. If you are waiting for Graham to say "God has shown me the way" you're bound to be disappointed.

Spinks said...

Sounds a little partisan on your part friend. That type of thinking plays out well with Conservatives or Liberals that are already sold but not with Joe and Jane Average voter which both parties have to woo. Let's face it, most aren't going to check out the entire platform on the website of either party so Graham and Lord they have to get out there with their messages. I voted Liberal last time but there's no guarantee I'll do it again. While the Tories aren't wowing me neither is the alternative and I suspect that's the same for lots of NBers.

Anonymous said...

That may be true, most NB'ers, like most canadians, pay little attention to politics. NB has a little higher turnout than many provinces, no doubt a sign of its aging population.

However, its pretty easy to go through the list of what the last six years haven't accomplished. Pushing '5 in 5' is bound to get many NB'ers thinking 'what happened to prosperity?'

It's not partisan to realize just how bad New Brunswick is getting. Unlike Spinks I've never voted liberal, partisanship is no help when the governing party is sinking the province. There's no need to go into the list here now, its sure to get well articulated in blogs as the election nears. Of course there's no guarantee.

If McKenna or Chretien were in charge, the same arguments would be made, so partisanship doesn't enter into it. Unfortunately, in a two party system, you only have one choice.

I'd disagree about the website though, people are just as likely to go to their website to get info as anywhere else, in fact there is nowhere else if you actually want to know whats going on, and not just the Irving spin. There are plenty of people out there who do that, and they talk to their friends, and co workers, etc.

It's not actually up to Graham and Lord anyway, they have their own riding, its the 54 others who will be 'selling' it door to door, and like I said, the first thing out of their mouth could be "do you know how much more than you the Premier makes?" and that could settle it right there.

We can debate the 'vision' thing elsewhere, suffice it to say, if neither leader has the vision you like, then that point is moot. All Graham has to do is point to government handouts of how wonderful everything is and say "my vision is of a New Brunswick that isn't shrinking" and that's enough for many folks-just go check out David Campbell and all the economic development blogs from Moncton and you'll see that.

Grahams only real chance-remember, he barely got elected last time- is that there is a federal conservative government, which means they might be kinder to a sibling party. However, so far that hasn't been shown to be the case, just ask Saint John, and New Brunswickers have a habit of electing opposing parties provincially than federally. If I were Graham I'd be talking about how much federal money McKenna brought in from the federal liberals.

Spinks said...

Good points. Just one thing to touch on and that's the salary thing. That probably does play well for the common Joe. Heck Lord make a lot more than me but frankly I don't think politicians generally get paid enough anyway.

I don't care if their Liberal, PC, NDP, or the Green Party, just about all of them deserve more simply because of the job.

Most are in it for the right reasons, we need to have them in a democracy and it is largely a thankless job. Unless the salaries go into the stratosphere I don't begrudge them what they get paid.

nbpolitico said...

spinks, I agree that the salaries for politicians are too high but for Lord to be paid higher than the premiers of BC, Alberta, Ontario and Quebec doesn't make a lot of sense and there is the ethical problem that he is making this much money not because of a decision of the New Brunswick legislature but because of a $60,000/year top up by the PC Party.

Spinks said...

Really? You think politicians are paid too much? Given their jobs I disagree for the reasons I gave but your belief is a common one shared among the masses. They are easy targets I guess.

Anonymous said...

I agree that they are paid WAY too much. In fact, you can look at the evidence and it clearly shows that the more politicians are paid, the WORSE they are at their jobs.

The perfect thing to do is exactly what is requested-look at what they do. In a party system they are not even able to represent their ridings, nor are they likely to. They represent their party, which means explaining to their population why the government made the choice they did.

Virtually every vote in the legislature is voted on party lines, and in fact there is ample evidence from MLA's themselves that they don't even READ the legislation. Even if they did it amounts to little actual work. Reading is pretty bloody easy. And nowadays its virtually impossible to even get hold of them, they're always at a meeting or something. Especially in areas away from Fredericton.

To my mind a far superior system is the american one, where states have both a senate and a house, have over four hundred representatives in the tiniest state like New Hampshire, and yet spends only one quarter on their salaries compared to what it costs to pay only 58.

In the US (this is state level by the way, in the northeast) they make a grand total of $600 a week, and thats only when they are sitting, which is only, well, still more than the New Brunswick legislature is actually sitting.

But media often parrots this view that 'money buys good politicians', and that is exactly right "MONEY BUYS good politicians". In Switzerland, the representatives don't even have an office, and certainly don't get a pension.

Here virtually the only justification of a 'good politician' is that the person who holds that belief just happens to agree with the views of the politician. The louder that politician voices it, usually the more beloved they are (at least by that person).

The other case is of course what we know is the only real usefulness of a politician to most New Brunswickers, and that is helping them find a job. There are so few jobs nowadays that they aren't even useful for that anymore.

If people hold that view that they deserve more, one could expect that it be at least contingent on their work. As pointed out above, the fact that he is highest paid when virtually every economic statistic has the province second to last shows just how absurd that is. It's like the CEO who gets a bonus when the company is going under. It does happen, but try finding anybody but the CEO who thinks its a good thing.

Combine that with the fact of NBers declining standard of living and making over 100 grand is not a bonus. I agree that the fact that taxpayers aren't paying it all is little comfort, one way or another the taxpayer pays for everything. It also makes one suspect 'exactly who is paying all that money?' to the party. One name comes to mind, but several no doubt fit, which makes it all the more likely that the highest paid Premier in the country is also the least beholden to constituents.

I would advise Spinks to really get on that 'we should be paying them more' kick, because I guarantee that the opposite is going to be bandied around plenty.

nbpolitico said...

spinks - sorry I made a typo; my comment ought to have said, "I agree that the salaries for politicians are too low"... the rest is correct, please take a look at it from that perspective