Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Throne Speech

The Liberal government brought in its throne speech today.

Highlights from my perspective:
  • budget - both capital and ordinary - will be introduced on March 13, well ahead of what is required by law

  • a "Prescription Monitoring Program" to avoid the overprescription of addictive drugs when users go to multiple doctors

  • finally, as was promised by the former Liberal government in 1999, and repromised and never delievered by the Tories over the course of 7 years, we will get Nurse Practioners which should do wonders for our health care system
Other than that, the highlights in the press release lead me to believe it is a bit light but I'll give it a more thorough review when I have time tonight.

What is the Tory reaction? Unless you live in Fredericton and were able to walk in to the legislative assembly and listen to the scrums or are a member of the press gallery, you'll have to wait until tomorrow. Why? Their website is still not up making it impossible for them to inform the general public of the flaws, as they see them. Also interesting that Bernard Lord, who hasn't been their leader for six weeks and hasn't been an MLA for one, still has his name egotistically emblazoned on their party logo.


Brent said...

For information, we have (and have had for about two years. I think) a nurse practitioner working here at the Doaktown Health Center.

So it's not accurate to say "never delivered."

That said, I want to add my support for the prescription drug monitoring program, and I'm pleased to hear on CBC that motor vehicle laws will be strengthened.

And I'm very happy to see the CBC radio report of the new fairness that is planned for the moose draw. It was a theme I heard on the hustings and the new government is to be commended to doing something about it.

scott said...

"The 2007 Speech from the Throne sets out the first steps in our ambitious agenda of change for our province. This agenda is a blueprint for altering the direction of New Brunswick, an agenda to put us on the path to achieving self-sufficiency within 20 years."

Does that mean he has reset the self-sufficiency target once again? During the election, it was 2025. In the initial whitepaper launched by the task force, it had miraculously changed to 2026. Now, apparently, it is 2027!! If he keeps on this pace, by the time 2025 comes around, he will either be thrown out of office or he will be announcing self-sufficiency by 2055! geesh

nbpolitico said...

Brent - I guess I should have been clearer on what I meant. The original announcement back in 1999, which the Tories said they would honour, was to have Nurse Practioners throughout the health system. I believe the first one started in either 2003 or 2004, and they are now in the system at below the level you would expect in a pilot project.

scott - In fairness, I think when 2025 was bandied about it was because it was a round number, the commitment was always "in 20 years". The election and promise was made in 2006 so twenty years is 2026. I would think that the reference to "20 years" here is another example of using a round number, clearly they still mean 2026.

If that is all you have to criticize, I would say they must have done good.

Autism Reality NB said...

From my perspective I am happy, very happy, to see the promise to introduce a plan to provide more trained Autism Support Workers in New Brunswick schools.

Today is a good for New Brunswick students with autism.

Anonymous said...

Criticize? What's to criticize, they didn't say anything. "We're going to 'examine', 'look at', 'consult' all the problems we were too dumb to look at while we were in opposition"

So for energy efficiency they already cut gas taxes, which leaves them even less money to work with, while giving money to 'energy efficiency', meaning money for people to buy caulking.

Instead of looking at tuition rates, they add a grant for first year students, which makes zero sense as most people said.

Of course everybody thought this during the campaign, which is why more people voted for the tories.

Notice the only concrete plans they have at this point are ones to protect investor rights and to 'upgrade' regulations for the petroleum and mining industries. For a country with some of the worst regulations in the industrialized world, anybody here think that means making stronger environmental rules?

Notice the other concrete plans to 'give more money to forestry companies'. These are the ones that are clear cutting the forest at a rate unprecedented.

Next, look at "The new policy will continue to
provide income stabilization to
help support the family farm"

For those who don't follow statistics canada, the 'family farm' has all but disappeared in NB, the last number had 2000 family farms, and that was in 2001. They have been decreasing at rate of 10% a year. Just go ask a farmer about the 'income stabilization'.

I really like the ripping off of Bush's "no New Brunswicker left behind". I encourage everyone to go volunteer at their local food bank and see just how many policies in there affect those people.

Notice that 'public insurance' has been replaced with 'they're giving us a deal'.

For first nations, of all the issues they have, the provincial government has devoted a 'day' for them, and the only land mentioned has been the 'arbitrary line between mikmaqs and maliseet. Yes, Lord knows those natives have been at one another's throats over land issues for centuries!

The word poverty or drug addiction aren't even mentioned, and all the rest of it are cliche's about 'working with' and 'setting up committee's and talking about the achievements of the last government.

So when you hear 'committee' that's code for 'will do nothing'. In Fredericton they need a new soup kitchen, but instead they're spending half a million for a lady to travel around and 'talk' to poor people.

Of course read the first Bill read in the house, the throne speech doesn't have anything binding anyway so is essentially a PR piece. There's your criticism.

nbpolitico said...

anon - thanks for those a lot of them carry a lot of merit.

I agree that cutting gas taxes is a poor way to conserve energy, that the tuition rebate for first year students is a bad idea and that the family farm is quickly becoming a thing of the past.

However, I think that there is merit to undertaking some studies. The problem with Bernard Lord was that he would study issues that required decisiveness to death and would refuse to study complex issues that needed it. Here, at least if the Self-Sufficiency Task Force is the model, studies will be undertaken quickly. It will file a report with in 2.5 months of launch which makes for an excellent combination of prudent study and quick action. Hopefully these other studies will yeild similar results.

Anonymous said...

"studies" can be conducted at any time. Virtually every area has been studied by some think tank or academic. In opposition they could have had any number of studies, in fact they did, and are just hoping nobody remembers the things they said while in oppositions.

Take for example, the 'self sufficiency' "commission". Two guys who started making proclamations virtually before talking to anybody. In fact, both these guys have histories and L'Acadie Nouvelle posted several of the comments that have been made previously. As trenchcoat mentions, there aren't even any public meetings announced and these guys were only given a few months.

Of course we KNOW what the result will be, all you have to do is look at AIMS various studies and the Atlantica proposals.

Studies are a way for governments to avoid making it look like they have any platform. Take a look at the legislative committee, millions spent all for nothing, in fact Graham won't even mention it. But the government takes the policies because they were 'recommended' and then of course tweaks them all around, as Lord was planning on doing with the method of proportional representation.

There are dozens of other examples, in forestry millions were spent and virtually everybody was ignored except the 'investors', namely the foreign corporations who were given carte blanche and are getting carte blancher.

There is certainly no reason 'self sufficiency' could not have been studied by the opposition and then presented as a campaign platform that people could vote for or against. This gives the 'veneer' of democracy, even though people have no say in the matter.

scott said...

In fairness, I think when 2025 was bandied about it was because it was a round number, the commitment was always "in 20 years".

So in retrospect, you are saying that a Liberal election promise is not a commitment. I think thousands of voters would beg to differ, especially if they voted for a particular measure. And for the record, 2025 and 2027 is almost the difference between a fixed term.

Anonymous said...

Who cares about that. No government in NB has lasted for twenty years, so the dates are irrelevant, I can't believe anybody takes that seriously. They have the two guys 'getting suggestions' right now and so they have no idea on a platform to implement as to how to even get started towards self sufficiency. Let's look at their policies so far:

1. Lower gas tax. That means even LESS money for government which means they'll need even MORE money from the feds. That makes NB even more dependant. I'm sure that really disposes the feds to being charitable on projects where they are 'working together'.

2. Energy program. $2000 for every New Brunswicker who wants to buy new windows or a new furnace. That's government spending that comes out of the smaller pot left by lower gas tax.

3. Student rebate. Here's where its really stupid. Universities are massive administrative machines. They could have looked at policies to 'trim the fat' or get universities more fiscally responsible while making them lower tuitions. Instead, they are giving more handouts. As mentioned elsewhere, NB has one of the higher proportions of students with university education-the problem is they leave as soon as they graduate. End result-more money going out on less money coming in.

4. Lower tax rate on dividends. This is even stupider and shows where there priorities are as it was one of their first moves, yet the richest NBers are doing just fine, so once again we see a familiar move in Canada-taxing the wealthiest less. Less money again for the government.

5. Public insurance. While this saves them from spending any money in the short term, all they got was a promise to lower rates by 10%, something that was already happening in the insurance industry. However, it still leaves NBers on the hook for future increases anytime that the insurance industry wants to raise them again. That will be even less money in NBers pockets, and at least public insurance would keep NB money in NB. So no help there.

6. For energy this is really telling. While the government talks about building a second nuclear plant they refuse to build ANY wind farms. For that they will 'contract out', so once again while it doesn't cost anything in the short term, that's money that will be leaving New Brunswick for Alberta. PEI at least has the brains to build and run their own wind farms, keeping jobs and investment at home. So once again, paying albertans will hardly add to 'self sufficiency'.

So the only real plan is to build a second nuclear plant and HOPE that there will be buyers. That's by no means certain, as Maine has had an oversupply of power every year for the past three years. Besides that they are on a northeast grid which is rapidly building up their own energy infrastructure. So that won't add to NB self sufficiency either.

So obviously the 'self sufficiency' line is a convenient slogan for the real intent, which is cutting social programs and services (which are already non existent in the province) and putting on the poor mouth for Ottawa. For the next four years they can talk as if they have a plan, that way get more money from the feds. It's mostly just to make sure New Brunswickers don't get any ideas like giving more money to the poor or starting any new programs.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 8:53 AM I agree with some of your points. Governments do play games. However, anyone is an improvement on Bernard Lord - the most indecisive premier we ever had. Besides he lied a lot and lied routinely. He was not much of a leader. Thank God he is history.

nbpolitico said...

No Scott, what I said was the year is 2026, it has always been 2026, the Liberals have never said any other date than 2026.

In Question Period, Shawn Graham just used the term 2026 again.

When in the Throne Speech of February 6, 2007 you say "20 years". The commitment, if you take it very literally, would be affixed by October 3, 2026, which is the date that one ought to use in zeroing in on 2026.

Feb 2027 is closer to Oct 2026 than Oct 2027. It was a rough figure but if you round it off, you end up in 2026, not 2027.

No one ever said, other than the media in making assumptions and Bernard Lord in talking about being a pro athelete, 2025.