Friday, February 23, 2007

Interesting day in the legislature

We started off question period with the absense of the premier for the first time since this session began. Opposition Leader Jeannot Volpé asked, as there was no designated deputy premier, who was the acting head of government to whom he should address his questions.

If it were me, as the premier obviously chose to name no deputy for a reason, I would have had the Government House Leader rise and indicate the depending on the area of policy that the question the appropriate minister would respond. Instead, however, Finance Minister Victor Boudreau answered and said that though there was no designated deputy premier, "I guess that makes the finance minister the deputy premier and I will answer the questions". Very interesting.

I was really disappointed with the Tories (am I sure you are surprised), but I suspect Scott will be too. I think it is fair to say that of the NB bloggers I am really the only die-hard Liberal and Scott is the only die-hard Tory (maybe Brent Taylor too?). The rest seem to fall somewhere in the middle. So if Scott does agree, then I would say the Tories need to give their head a shake.

First, David Alward, the Agriculture & Fisheries critic, made a member's statement about the LNG situation in the St. Croix. I think that an LNG terminal in that area would be a disaster on a number of levels and that we should fight it, as we are. New Brunswick, under the Liberals, has taken some action here. Under the Tories we had a lot of screaming and arm-flailing and letters to the prime minister but no real action. Under the Liberals, we have sought and been granted official legal status before the U.S. regulatory agency that must approve this project. If we are unsuccessful there, there is nothing more New Brunswick can do, and Shawn Graham admits that, however the government says they would support federal efforts to try to block it on the grounds that they would be sending ships through sovereign Canadian waters. This sounds sensible to me.

However, the opposition is all over Shawn Graham for stating he is willing to accept the process and will not do things that he cannot legally do. Woodstock MLA David Alward called him "irresponsible" for this and then said the broader concept of building relationships with Maine through the recent MOUs was "dangerous". Volpé led off question period - after getting Boudreau to say he was deputy premier - that it was sad that New Brunswick couldn't get a deal with Nova Scotia (on beer) but it was making deals outside of the country, he said "this is scary for New Brunswickers". What? Cooperation with our neighbours and trading partners is dangerous and scary? What world are these guys living in? This after Volpé told a few weeks ago that the Tory government didn't pursue big business investment because they prefered SMEs.

Alward then got another turn, this time in QP, and claimed that Shawn Graham was against New Brunswick by backing the U.S. over New Brunswick and made a ridiculous claim that in the past he backed Veneuzuela over N.B. during the orimulsion fiasco and that he was also against rural New Brunswick because of the Self-Sufficiency Task Force. Riiiiiight...

The "clash of ideas" continues as Bill 17 is still being debated at second reading - something that has been going on for a portion of 5 sitting days now and usually is only done for one. The largest portion of debate takes place in the next stage, committee of the whole house - where amendments can be introduced, etc.


Scott said...

After listening, researching and reading up on past efforts made by our previous governments in regards to moving our provincial economy forward, I realized, after asking myself a couple of difficult questions, that the common problem that each administration encountered was that they were all approaching the problem from the wrong angle. In other words, they were too localized and boundry driven in their approach.

So what would I suggest we do from here?

Well, firstly and for starters, if the gov't is serious about an economic develpment [approach] outside our boarders, than they should start by changing the name of the department from BNB to Department of Economic Development so as to reflect its new, broader scope of activity. A scope that they [Graham's Liberals] already seem to be reflecting in their early policy initiatives.

Secondly, Graham must be willing to broaden the provinces approach in an effort to reach beyond the traditional function of recruiting new industries [which has been tried] so as to include the expansion of existing industries and aid to SMEs [small and medium businesses] in marketing their products both nationally and abroad. And in order to accomplish this, I think he has to consider moving a few provincial offices abroad, possibly in Europe, Japan, India or China. Not to mention, he needs to worry less about small domestic issues [ATV legislation, etc.) and push his team of Grits to think big and outside the box. (i.e. More NB Trade missions on an annual or bi-annual basis)

And this goes for the opposition as well. If they are going to criticize, they must do so responsibly as we are a fragile province and we can't afford useless rhetoric to win the day over strong ideas, even when they aren't even our own. If they want to gain political points, they can do so by hammering away at domestic issues that concern both urban and rural voters. Again, as I said before, when it comes to the economy, all our political leaders must realize that "national and provincial boundries have become increasingly irrelevant in the definition of market and production spaces while regions, rather than countries and provinces, are emerging as key policy arenas." Trying to harness the government's approach is irresponsible as an opposition because we need to work with our partners to the south more, not less. I think David Alward simply jumped thegun on this one. I'm sure when he and Volpe sit down and thinks this one out, they will both realize that the Premier does not have malicious intent and is only trying to better the energy and education sectors for the province.

Anonymous said...

Victor Boudreau reminds me of Alexander Haig, Secretary of State under Regan, who claimed that he was in charge of Whitehouse when Reagan was shot. He was reminded of the Vice President and the Speaker of the House. Victor Boudreau sure sounded odd.

I agree with Scott's analysis. Did you say Scott is a Tory? Lately he sounds more like NDP ;). It is good though.

Scott said...

I agree with Scott's analysis. Did you say Scott is a Tory? Lately he sounds more like NDP ;). It is good though.

nbpolitico is right. I have been a member of the PCs and a tory for a very, very long time. That's probably why I am not scared to express my concerns or feelings as my party has always allowed me to do so. When I think they are being harebrained or too comfortable, I'll let them know.

I suspect that some of the individuals who question my loyalty don't understand what it means to be part of "one" party. They think that jumping on the bandagon when the going is good and spouting off ideological arguements constitiutes political loyalty.

I suspect many of them were Liberals during the early, mid, to late-90s when it wasn't so cool to be a tory or a reformer. A time when many of us grew stronger as tories.

Now, that things are tanking out for the Libs in Ottawa, these same bandwagoners are now claiming that they are the voice of the right.

How funny is that?

just driving by said...

Looked to me like Boudreau got tapped by Premier's Office to answer the Premier's questions.

Keep in mind, the premier's absence was not a surprise to his staff. They would have thought about who should take questions in his absence, and seen that he was fully briefed before QP.

Looked to me like the one Q they didn't prep him for was "why are you the guy answering for the Premier?".