1.) The Tories got more votes from the people and will be a responsible opposition.
2.) The Liberals for made a "shopping list" with "hundreds of promises" proving that a government can get elected by "being irresponsible". Yet there were 152 promises in the Tory platform of 2003. A bit in consistent...
3.) Tories are fiscally responsible, they balance budgets by cutting taxes. I won't get in to that old argument, but Victor Boudreau has pledged up and down that the budget will be balanced despite the mess Volpé left him. What is the problem?
He then went on at length about the Tory record in government. In the midst of it he was missing a page of his speech and stumbled for a while then told a joke getting his caucus to applaud until he found the page.
Then he went on to criticize the Liberal government of 1987-1999. Citing statistics without context, as his party has been known to do, pointing out that the Liberals created only apporximately 3500 jobs/year when they were in office while the Tories created approximately 5000/year. He fails to mention that much of the Liberal time in office was during the worst recession since the Great Depression, while the Tories spent most of their time in office during periods of unprecendented economic growth.
He mentioned Francis McGuire a lot. And he talked about how bringing big business to New Brunswick was bad because you run too high of a risk of those businesses leaving one day and destroying communities.
He then went back to talking about the Bernard Lord record.
He also said that the only difference between the McKenna government and the Graham government was "the name of the captain sitting in the pilot's seat". That sounds to me like a pretty high compliment of Shawn Graham, though I am sure he meant that McKenna was an awful premier, though I don't think he would find many New Brunswickers that would agree.
He then continued to go back and forth between lauding Bernard Lord and ripping Frank McKenna.
Finally, after 42 minutes, he began to talk about the current government but only in the context of programs launched by the Lord government of which the Graham government will continue the implementation and did that for 9 minutes.
Among these items, he congratulated the Liberals for keeping private insurance, but then said the Liberals lacked integrity for doing so after promising to launch public insurance. I am sorry that the promise the Liberals had been consistently running with since the sping of 2003 - "public auto insurance if necessary, but not necessarily public auto insurance" - was too complicated for Volpé to understand.
After a total of 51 minutes of speaking, Volpé finally began what the Opposition reply is usually for: criticisms of the government's agenda and alternatives proposed by the opposition. He did this for 5 minutes...
- He criticized the Liberal environment policy. Said it should not be about Kyoto and that they couldn't allow Irving to build a second refinery without allowing emmissions to rise and that the government was not clear in its overall agenda, it needed to propose something sound.
- He said that New Brunswick is 50-50 rural-urban and the government had to recognize the economic potential in rural areas and that the Liberals had to give them the tools to grow their economies. He said that Francis McGuire was opposed to rural New Brunswick. He suggest the government should support their bill to create a Regional Economic Development Fund, which he said would build on the three regional funds they had set up while they were in power. He said Graham had to clarify his plans to "close the north of the province".
- He said that the Liberals were not ready to govern and needed to have a more robust agenda. Said he was surprised that the government bills yesterday mostly merely changed names and the only substantive measure was a "new tax".
Also on the positive side, though I was very underwhelmed by the speech, it was a very good speech for rallying the troops and I am sure any Tory that heard the speech would think it is wonderful. Unfortunately, though it does not do much for Liberals, NDPers and non-aligned voters. Perhaps this is a sound strategy, there will not be an election for 4 years and the Tories need to hold together through a long time in the opposition and through a leadership contest.