Tuesday, November 21, 2006

On Bernard Lord and the future of the Tories

A welcome break from the Liberal leadership for some of my New Brunswick readers, I am going to write today about the future of the Tories and there potential leadership options.

First of all kudos to the journalist who took this neat shot with an exit sign in the background during Lord's speech:

Now on to the meat. First of all, in today's Telegraph-Journal Carl Davies has the following list of potential candidates, all former ministers:
  • Jody Carr (MLA since 1999, Minister in 2006)
  • Madeleine Dubé (MLA since 1999, Minister from 2003-2006)
  • Bruce Fitch (MLA since 2003, Minister from 2003-2006)
  • Trevor Holder (MLA since 1999, Minister from 2005-2006)
  • Paul Robichaud (MLA since 1999, Minister from 1999-2006)
  • Jeannot Volpé (MLA since 1995, Minister from 1999-2006)
  • Claude Williams (MLA since 2001, Minister in 2006)

Davies had done an earlier piece on this - or at least I thought it was him - but I can't find it now. One name I remember reading about was Margaret-Ann Blaney, who I think would be obvious as she was a leadership candidate in 1997 when she had far less political experience than she does today. Perhaps there is truth to the rumours that she plans to run in Saint John in the next federal election?

This selection of candidates is pretty slim pickens. Of them, I think only Robichaud would be able to mount an decent performance in an election campaign. Holder and Williams both might be able to do something with a lot of work and they do have a few years for it. Hopefully Dubé will run so that there is a woman in the race, as New Brunswick politics desperately needs more prominent woman.

Of the candidates, all of the Anglophones are unilingual and most of the Francophones struggle with English; Dubé and Volpé in particular. Robichaud's English has dramatically improved over his time as minister but he still has a very heavy preference for French and falls to it whenever in a difficult spot in the House.

I wonder if anyone from outside of the caucus with calibre will come forward? Think Norm Betts in 1997. I doubt Betts himself would be interested but that is another option. Another former minister who has remained a prominent figure would be Dennis Furlong, but his heart never seemed to be into politics when he served. Peter Mesheau and Elvy Robichaud, in my view, were the strongest ministers in Lord's government, but both just retired so one presumes they are not interested in the crown.

Also, I wonder what about the new kids on the block? The Tories elected 4 freshmen on September 18: Claude Landry, Bruce Northrup, Mike Olscamp and Carl Urquhart. I don't know many of them but Landry, from what I've seen, seems charismatic and has political experience having served as Elvy Robichaud's EA for much of ther former's time in cabinet. He clearly had a good grasp on the files as he has been given the prominent Health critic portfolio.

From this early staging point, I would say that the best bet for the Tories would be Landry. However, he has yet to appear on anyone's list so we shall see.

What about the Lord?

As for Lord and whether he will stay or go, I would strongly suspect he will go. Even his supporters admit he has a strong ego and I don't think he could face the legislature as leader of the opposition, and, if he could, he certainly couldn't do it over and over for four years. He has said he intends to stay in Fredericton until June when his wife and children finish school (his wife works in a the public school system). Perhaps he will announce his resignation around Christmas (he has promised an announcement one way or another at that time) and stay on to lead the party through the spring until a new leader is chosen.

Otherwise, Davies article predicts Volpé would be interim leader. I would think that that would be a terrible choice, a tendancy to become easily angered, lack of charisma and poor command of English do not make for a strong opposition leader. A young Turk such as Holder would be a better choice for opposition leader. The Tories need to start off with energy or they will have a hard time to recover for lost momentum.

UPDATE: Harrap has a post up on the subject as well


Anonymous said...

Just a minor factual correction: Lord's spouse is a methods and resource teacher, not a teachers' aide or teachers' assistant.

nbpolitico said...

I was not aware of that and was quite sure she was not a "teacher" (i.e. doesn't have a BEd), but to make sure I am not inaccurate, I will change it to something ambiguous.

harrap said...

Thanks for the plug. I agree with you that Lord will resign.

It will be interesting to see who enters the race to replace him. I think Graham is likely guaranteed at least two terms - barring any unforseen events - so the next Tory leader may have to spend quite some time in opposition.

nbpolitico said...

.. or get knifed and be replaced ;)

Traditionally speaking, opposition leaders in New Brunswick only get to fight one election. Graham is the exception due wholly to his near upset and still faced some knives.

Let's go back through losing opposition leaders:

1999 Premier loses, doesn't run again
1995 Valcourt resigns in 1997
1991 No leader, however neither the CoR nor PC leader made it to 1995
1987 Premier loses, doesn't run again
1982 Young resigns in 1983
1978 Daigle resigns in 1981
1974 Higgins resigns in 1978
1970 Premier loses, doesn't run again
1967 Van Horne resigns later in 1967
1963 Sherwood resigns in 1966
1960 Premier loses, doesn't run again
... and so on

Anonymous said...

A name familar to NB politics Merrithew the next generation---Lisa 1.involed in a Tory campaign that did much better than most expected.2.Saint John is a key swing area that PC party must regain,she is local plus Cerry,Harbour Station and Imperial. 3.Media smart ,right age , woman and new like NB voters like them.

nbpolitico said...

Anon - Merrithew would indeed be a very interesting out of caucus candidate. And a credible woman. How is her French?

Anonymous said...

"Robichaud's English has dramatically improved over his time as minister but he still has a very heavy preference for French and falls to it whenever in a difficult spot in the House"

can't see how this would be much of a problem ... the "first" Robichaud", (Louie) had terrible english - and he was one of the most effective leaders NB has ever had.


Anonymous said...

F.Y.I.: Diane Haché-Lord holds a Masters Degree in Education, from Université de Moncton.