Saturday, September 16, 2006

Shawn Graham vs. Bernard Lord

A number of readers, the Tory camapign and some in the media have often spoken about Shawn Graham's "weak leadership" and questioned whether or not he was ready to be premier.

I have always found this rather amusing. It was just over 7 years ago that Bernard Lord won a massive majority government and, at the time, there were similar questions about his ability to lead.

It really is not fair to compare Bernard Lord now, after 7 years in office, to Shawn Graham now. Whenever you elect a new premier, you are taking something of a leap of faith due to inexperience. I can't imagine any two-term premier who was less ready to be in office than a rookie to that job.

So, really, New Brunswickers made a choice in 1999, and now they have to make a choice in 2006. Is Shawn Graham a good choice?

My answer is yes, he is more prepared for office than Bernard Lord was when he was elected. Moreover, he has a far stronger team than Lord has ever had and I honestly believe that despite Shawnisms or anything else, his heart is in the right place and his big goals for New Brunswick are the kind of out-of-the-box and forward thinking that we need today.

Now lets compare:

Bernard Lord in 1999Shawn Graham in 2006
Two degrees: A bachelor of social science and a bachelor of lawsTwo and a half degrees: A bachelor of physical education, a bachelor of education and part of a masters of business administration (he was studying part-time as an MLA but had to forfeit the studies when he was elected Liberal leader)
Political experience
Defeated candidate for Dieppe town council (1995); defeated candidate for the Legislature (Dieppe-Memramcook, 1995); Leader of the PC Party for 1.5 years (elected fall 1997); Leader of the Opposition and MLA for 8 months (elected to legislature October 1998)Senior staffer to a Minister of the Crown; MLA for 8 years (since October 1998 - the same day as Lord); Leader of the Liberal Party and of the Opposition for over 4 years (elected May 2002)
Strength of team
8 incumbent MLAs; 1 candidate formerly an MLA; no one with provincial government experience since at least 1987; no former cabinet ministers as candidates; "B team" slate of candidates chosen when party expected to have no chance to win; no one with federal government experience since 1993; campaign manager from Ontario with federal and provincial campaign experience (John Laschinger)25 incumbent MLAs; 3 candidates formerly MLAs; no one with provincial government expereince since 2002 (former civil servants) / 1999 (political officials); 4 former cabinet ministers as candidates; "A team" slate of candidates selected when party sure it would win; federal experienced staffers from 2006; campaign managers from New Brunswick, one NB Liberal Party executive director (Dana Clendenning), one former cabinet minister (Doug Tyler)

On the question of who is more ready to be premier, the answer is obviously Bernard Lord with 7 years in office. However, if you compare Shawn Graham today to Bernard Lord when he was first elected it is obvious that Shawn Graham and his team are far more ready to take office.

That leaves a question of vision, and I think that Shawn Graham's optomostic outlook for New Brunswick and comprehensive platform are a far, far better choice than Bernard Lord's tired government, led by a man who would not work with the legislature he was elected to lead in 2003 and who is anxious to move on to federal politics where he thinks he is more appreciated and who could only manage a platform with one deliverable for every 73 days in office.

I'm supporting Shawn Graham and the Liberals and I encourage you to do the same.


Anonymous said...

"..who is more ready to be premier, the answer is obviously Bernard Lord with 7 years in office.." Bernard Lord was never ready to be premier and never will be. He has shown incompetence time and again whether it is Orimulsion fiasco, health care, gas regulation or federal/provincial relations (now he brags about good relation with Harper government which may not last very long).

He got to go. I do not care who is the next premier. Even Brewer will be acceptable to me as she is sincere at least. Bernard Lord is for Bernard Lord only. Since Brewer is not a possibility I would recommend that voters must go for Shawn Graham, as he is sincere too.

herringchoker said...

I was going to cut you some slack with the two-and-a-half degrees comment. Generally in the outside world they only count completed degrees. I'm not saying Shawn wasn't up to finishing his MBA (I think he is certainly smart enough) but, as they say, close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades. Besides, if you want to be completely forthright, BL also completed his articles and Bar Admission in order to become a lawyer which, I understand, is another two years of learning, albeit for slave wages. So, honestly speaking, you had one leader with a profession and another without.

But, where you really got me was "Senior staffer to Minister of the Crown!" That's the Belinda Stronach qualification. You could just as easily have said, "senior staffer to his father (after an exhaustive search for candidates)" and given a more complete picture. I've met Shawn, he's very intelligent and articulate one on one and I personally like him but, I'm not one for dynasties. Politics isn't supposed to be a "family business". The greasy pole is supposed to treat them all equally. BL's father was a pilot, not a politician, which gives him a leg up in my book. He did things the hard way, and made it to the top.

This is another reason I tend to lean Tory over Liberal. The Grits are the party of dynasty. Look around, Martin, Ghiz, McGuinty, Graham (NS), and Graham (NB). All traded on their father's names to get a leg up and all were bested by those who made it on their own. On the Tory side, it's a lot more of what you know than who your Dad was. With the exception of Peter Mackay, I can't think of a single senior Tory politician who's making it the "family business."

nbpolitico said...

Whether or not Graham got the job as a senior staffer because he was Alan Graham's son is irrelevant. He still had the experience of running a ministers office.

Anonymous said...

"BL also completed his articles and Bar Admission.." was not he a failed lawyer. Now he makes $200,000.00 a year ($100,000.00 directly from taxpayers and another $100,000.00 through donations to P.C party which is very questionable. Almost sounds like bribery from the rich donors). If he is that qualified then he must go and practice law instead of screwing the province.

Herringchoker I think you are choking on your own herrings as you are missing real facts. .

Cooker Boy said...

The issue I have for Graham is that I do not think his platform is really setting up Nb for the Future. it contains a lot of "popular" view points.

Lord on the other hand has made the decisions and investments in Health and education that will lead to big changes.

I just think that when it comes to making a big decision, I personally would rather have a Premier that looks at all the facts and makes the right decision based on the facts, not the person that makes decisions based on what the polls or "supercrats" say.

That premier is Lord.

nbpolitico said...

Also on the 2 vs 2.5 degrees, and profession. Lord graduated with 2 degrees and did the necessary praticum to become a lawyer. Graham graduated with 2 degrees and did the necessary praticum to become a teacher. According to his interview with Terry Seguin he has a teacher's license, much as Lord is admitted to the bar.

Though Shawn taught little, as has been the subject of some controversy during the campaign, I don't believe Mr. Lord practiced much law either.

On the subject of Shawn starting but not finishing his MBA, it was educational course work he has done that Lord has not and I thought ought to be included in the comparison.

Anonymous said...

"Lord on the other hand has made the decisions and investments in Health and education that will lead to big changes." Cooker boy he succeeded to screw both healthcare and education. Both are a big mess, which will take years to fix.

Lord's great admirer Times and Transcript called him Mr. Dither while ago. When was Lord was able to make decision? I think he has difficulty in the morning that which foot should he put in his pants first. The man just cannot make decisions.

Cooker Boy said...

I beleive history will prove that I am right.

Spinks said...

Shawn Graham isn't a bad guy but unfortunately he was chucked into the leadership ring before his time. It worked for Lord so it might work for Graham too and given the close race we may very well find out and be calling Graham Mr. Premier. Still, the Liberals haven't offered a solid reason or reasons for turfing the Government. Sure they've said the things their supporters and the media love to hear but is that enough reason to totally overhaul government? I don't think so.

The hunger for power that the Liberals have was evident this past Spring just as much as the Tories craving to hold on to power was. Unfortunately for the Liberals, they never got past those springtime ideals and didn't offer up solid reasons to turf the government. The Liberals deserve a solid, strong opposition to keep the government accountable but they still have some homework to do before leading the province again. Some more time might give the NDP a chance to rethink their stance too and maybe even be ready for an election even if it's called in the Summer.

Anonymous said...

I hate hearing someone criticise a politician just for being from a political family. Public service is something we teach kids is a good thing, something to aspire to. Until you've had your name on a ballot for public office I think it's easy to make snide remarks. I respect any individual who stands for office, whether I'd vote for them or not. Politics is not for the faint of heart, and kids of politicians will tell you they learn that at a young age. Kudos for Graham Sr for showing his son that public service is something to strive for, and kudHs for Graham Jr for taking the lesson to heart. he has my support - I think it's about time we had a premier with his heart in it.

Peter Kincaid said...

If you were to have handicap columns I think at the top of the list for each is:

Bernard Lord - He gives people the impression that he takes his last name literally;

Shawn Graham - He suffers from the Michael J. Fox youthful-looks-syndrome that results in him being treated with less respect than peers roughly his own age.

Bernard Lord is geared to mingle with elites while Shawn Graham represents the average person trying to make the best of what they have. What we have here is a competition of contrasts. Bernard had his kick at the can now its time for a real strong mucker and his team to try to lift us much higher than we are currently or expect to be. I think our Province's most under rated leader will do just fine.

nbpolitico said...

the Liberals haven't offered a solid reason or reasons for turfing the Government. Sure they've said the things their supporters and the media love to hear but is that enough reason to totally overhaul government? I don't think so.

Spinks, I am sure you are surprised to hear that I couldn't disagree more.

Under Frank McKenna, New Brunswick consisitently punched above its weight, it was always near the top of the pack when comparing the economic growth and other success measures of provinces.

Since Bernard Lord took office, New Brunswick has returned to the ways of yesteryear. New Brunswick, under Liberal and Conservative governments alike, traditionally was content to take the hand it was dealt and coast. This changed under Frank McKenna but unfortunately it has reverted to the old ways under Bernard Lord.

Shawn Graham is no Frank McKenna, but when I hear him talk about returning a "can do" attitude to New Brunswick, it resonnates with me. New Brunswick can be a leader in Canada, New Brunswick can do better.

We need to be unshackled and allowed to meet our potential. Beranrd Lord seems happy to see New Brunswick perform as expected, Shawn Graham and the Liberals want to give us the confidence and means to live up to our potential and do the unexpected.

The Blue Blogger said...

Yes, let's compare shall we...

Under McKenna the deficit$3.5M to $7M,

Lord has continuously reduced the deficit!

Under McKenna the unemployemtn rate stayed at 12%, even mcKenna acknowledges that he wish he could have done better.

Lord has steadily reduced the unemployment rate to a 30 year low of 8%.

Seems to me like Lord does have the can do attitude at less the cost...

The Blue Blogger said...

I will say thought that the Libs are far better at marketing themselves.

Perhaps Lord should have kept some Spin Doctors back in 99...

nbpolitico said...

blue blogger, you are comparing apples and oranges.

McKenna's numbers relative to national numbers are far better than Lord's have ever been. McKenna made huge progress during a recession and during massive cuts in federal transfers. Lord has held the course during unprecedented economic growth and while federal transfers have consistently grown.

The Tories have been making a big deal and you are, about the rate of unemployment under McKenna versus today.

The fact is unemployment is low in New Brunswick and in Canada. For the actual record and success of the province though, you have to look at the difference between the two.

Today, unemployment in New Brunswick is higher relative to federal unemployment.

Here are the numbers from StatsCan:

July 2006 - most recent (link)
Canada: 6.4%
NB: 8.9%
Difference: 2.5

May 1999 - last full month Libs in office (link)
Canada: 8.1
NB: 10.2
Difference: 2.1

Anonymous said...

Pardon me? Where do people get their facts. McKenna brought in balanced budget legislation and showed surpluses in his last four years in office.

For unemployment, just look at the numbers and NB's unemployment rate is down primarily because workers are leaving the province in droves.

Much of McKenna's 'reign' was during a lengthy recession, while Lord has presided over one of the biggest booms in canadian history, yet look at any economic statistic and there is barely any growth there.

McKenna campaigned on what he was going to do, which resulted in the massive victory. Graham merely hints at what he would do, with few details. What Lord has been doing hasn't been working-unless you have a steady well paying job and don't look carefully at gas taxes,property taxes, or your fellow New Brunswickers. While Graham has little but proposals the province cannot afford.

In reality, the two are so similar you might as well flip a coin. Unless you have a vested interest in one of the party's 'pet projects' they are virtually identical.

Of course in the end it doesn't even matter, and all the debate pretty much proves that-debating about parental heritage and personal vocations.

Insurance companies run the insurance game, that won't change, international forestry companies run the forestry sector, that won't change, Irvings run everything they have a vested interest in, that won't change, ditto McCains. And spending will go where the federal government dictates, namely anything but industrial development. And that won't change.

All New Brunswickers are deciding is which puppet they want to get their bad news from. So get out your coins.

Anonymous said...

If things are so bad in NB, then tell me why are the Liberals campaign on a practical copy of the Tory platform?

The biggest difference I see is that the Tories will give me a tax cut, while the Liberals will increase my taxes.

I also do not blame the govt for people leaving the province. this has been happening for years and I think it will be the same under the Libs.

nbpolitico said...

anon at 11:14..

How is a 270 plank platform a copy of a 20 plank platform?

Anonymous said...

The only "correct" decision I think BL ever made was to refurbish Lepreau. It will score points for him in the Saint John area, unless his candidates really screw it up for him.

I don't think his Health Care cuts delivered anything b/c it just resulted in people from Northern NB having to drive to southern NB more often for care. It just pushed the costs around, and that is something that won't be proven financially for a couple of years yet.

Contrary to some posters, I think Graham is at an advantage for being from a political family. I come from one myself (although I'm not a politician by any stretch of the imagination) and you learn through seeing and doing. I'd rather have someone in office who has seen that side of things, than someone who hasn't. Lord's political inexperience (as exhibited thru his dealings with Frank Branch and Tanker Malley) and inability to deal with common folk are the real thorns in his side.

As for the blue blogger's remarks about the McKenna years, let's not forget that there was a recession going on during his time. Lord has been lucky enough that the Canadian economy has boomed during his time, the improvements are NOT from his "hard work". In fact, if he had really worked during his time, there would not have been a mass exodus to Alberta, the unemployment rate would not be among the lowest in Canada, and the poverty level would not be as low as it gets.

In my view, it's time to give another person the chance. Bernard Lord does not want to be a loyal public servant unless he is in charge. Is that the kind of Premier you want? One who looks out for himself?