Friday, May 04, 2007

I have high hopes

On Monday, the Self-Sufficiency Task Force will release its final report. As I have said many times on this blog and in the comments sections of other blogs, I have high hopes for this report.

Say what you will about Shawn Graham, but he has always been a man who has had big dreams, reached high and consistently punched above his weight (he had no chance to win the 2002 Liberal leadership [but won it with 75% of the vote], was sure to lose seats in the 2003 election [but actually quadrupled his total], was never going to survive as leader to the next election [but never faced a serious leadership challenge] and couldn't knock Bernard Lord off in 2006 [but did]).

In appointing this commission he has shown that he stands with leaders like Louis Robichaud, Richard Hatfield and Frank McKenna who are not afraid to think outside of the box and dream big about New Brunswick's future. Bernard Lord was not a member of this group of leaders. It was Lord who compared the idea of self-sufficiency to the liklihood of him becoming a part of the PGA tour. While Louis Robichaud re-invented the province, Richard Hatfield brought together our fractured biculturalism and Frank McKenna made New Brunswick a leader in IT and job growth, Bernard Lord balanced his budgets - from time to time - by living off of a booming Canadian economy and the largest increases in federal transfers to the provinces since the 1950s. In fact, in some years, Lord's "record health care spending increases" were less than the amount of money the feds were giving us earmarked for health. Lord was content to undo the good works of Frank McKenna by moving us more towards reliance on Ottawa and sucking on the federal teet. If Stephen Harper ever listened to Bernard Lord it is no wonder he thought Atlantic Canadians had a defeatist attitude.

When Shawn Graham launched this Self-Sufficiency Task Force he invoked the memories of the Byrne Commission which turned New Brunswick upside down with controversial reforms that today everyone recognizes as good and necessary. This is why I have high hopes.

I hope that I - and you - will be impressed with the recommendations on Monday. And I also hope that we will all be equally impressed with Shawn Graham as I hope he will implement all of the good ideas whether they are popular or not. That is the true sign of a good leader: doing what is right even if it is unpopular.


Anonymous said...

Oh come now! Are you kidding? God, I couldn't stop laughing! I know NB is now awash with blue blogs and you may feel a bit outnumbered but let's not let hyperbole get the better of us.

Robichaud brought in equal opportunity, took on KC Irving for two terms, and Frank, well, he at least had balls, although he also had every seat in the house, although he never had more than 60% support.

But I mean, a green Premier who has done nothing but raise taxes and you are putting him on that stair (Robichaud would certainly be a pedestal to many, McKenna may get some grudging respect for moxy, but thats it).

Graham has a famous dad, speaks both languages fluently, doesn't look like a freak, and is pretty moderate. Winning the leadership isn't exactly storming Mordor! Hell, Lord won the tory leadership and most people had never even heard of him. Nowadays, anonymity is every politician's friend. One liberal nominee was elected in Saint John where there were fewer than 600 people voting!

The self sufficiency task force is of course - two guys. Hardly a 'force'. The extent of their work has been to set up a website for people to post at, and make a few, usually stupid, pronouncements. This 'force' is even more pathetic than Lord's "Next NB" which at least had some regular New Brunswickers involved.

For his 'high reaches' I've yet to see any. Technically, of course, he isn't even New Brunswickers choice for Premier. That was just a quirk of fate that a bizarre electoral system put him in the main seat.

And one of the first things he did was distance himself from Lord's referendum, to ensure that he can stay there. At least Lord had the Committee on Democratic Renewal, where millions was spent and input gathered and a referendum announced. Graham squashed that, that is about the only time that I've ever heard of a new premier actually cancelling a planned referendum.

So that just goes to show exactly what he thinks of New Brunswickers. That's a slap in the face if I ever saw one.

Since the election has been nothing but a series of blunders, not unsurprising considering its a new government. But just because he gives his "Prosperity Plan" a different name, certainly means nothing about 'big dreams'.

Virtually every policy is a continuation of Lords, or else are cases where they will be picking your pocket more than usual. The Residential Tenants Act, which they championed, is still dead in the water. Immediately after the election they announced that the Legislature wouldn't even open for half a year, giving members a paycheque for only one sitting term.

For 'leadership' you've got the wrong guy even if that was desirable in a democracy. Whenever somebody says they want a 'leader who will make unpopular decisions' then you know to hold onto your wallet.

For 'leadership' we have the latest announcement that, surprise surprise, he doesn't like the liberal plan of dealing with Kyoto. Now, can anybody honestly say that you can't see Irvings handprint all over that? That's hardly 'leadership', turning Saint John in to the most polluted city in the east.

For leadership you can look at the pathetic display when he disagreed with the federal budget. At least Danny Williams has the stones to take on Harper when he disagrees. Graham meekly states that "we don't like it".

For the task force, we've already seen enough of their idiotic proposals to not hold our breath, and the budget pretty much showed that they have zero interest in 'self sufficiency'.

What they have LOTS of interest in is Atlantica. It's no coincidence that three bills before this lazy ass legislature have been about railroads, one of the major tenets of the AIMS group.

For forestry, we know what those boneheads have already said, which is to virtually put the death knell on any forestry models that actually benefit New Brunswickers.

Usually if a decision is unpopular among the majority of people there's good reason for that. Perhaps you may think Graham and Company are especially clever people and know something that everybody else doesn't-therefore his 'unpopular decisions' are 'right' and everybody else is wrong. But there's another way of looking at it, and its not too complimentary.

However, he's a politician, and politicians don't do leadership so well when the race is neck and neck-just look at Martin and Harper. Being a politician means taking some risks, so far Graham has shown he's got a rubber backbone. Not only doesn't he rank with McKenna and Robichaud, he's not even in the same class with that guy who took over after McKenna .... for a few months.

So come on, let's have a reality check. We're talking about politicians. I don't know what 'dreams' he has that you are talking about, I sense a little psychological transferance, where you WANT to believe something so much that you project it. So far Graham is making Lord look more like McKenna and Robichaud than Graham.

nbpolitico said...

It's early, we will see. I am an optomist.

If Shawn Graham fails to deliver, I will be the first to say so.

Pete said...

Anon at 2:02

I may be a stickler for details, but the Next NB program wasn't Lord's program. It was initiated by UNB president John McLaughlin. Lord had little interest in it. Shawn, however, was an active supporter.

Paulin said...

Nice post Anon! I disagree but nice post.

Paul said...

Right on anon! Having high hopes and thinking two old business guys are going to set the world on fire in New Brunswick is very amusing, and now starting to compare Shaun Graham to the greats is at best premature and more likley just wrong. As far as I can tell from up north here, Premier Graham is nothing much more than a puppett.

I also must say how disappointed I was Shauns's disinterest in democratic renewal. I think this is the most important issue in keeping democracy alive and well, but why would you renew a system that makes you the winner, without actually winning.

And please Francis MacGuire is a nightmare, with an inflated sense of himself, and his own ideas. Call Centres did nothing for New Brunswick other than advance Frank McKenna's career. Young people aren't staying home from Alberta because they can get jobs at call centres....He should have been investing in education, not call centers...

As for being optimistic, be careful, nbpolitico, psycholgist Havelock Ellis said the place where optimism most flourishes is the lunatic asylum.

I expect his report will be boring.and predictable, like the earlier papers.

NB taxpayer said...

"self-sufficiency" is a code word for "we're going to tax you hard and long".

Anonymous said...

New Brunswick is far from being self sufficient and will not with Liberals at the helm. McKenna thought that 9/Hr. jobs in call centers is good for the economy but all it has done is line the pockets of his corporate sponsors. Look at UPS they were given an 11 million dollar forgivable loan to set up the call centers in New Brunswick. They are a fortune 500 company that is ranked 37 in terms of revenue. How do the liberals justify that. We then are suppose to thank thge liberals for these jobs that keep us below the poverty line. We need to have politicians who think more of us than that. We deserve "fair wage jobs" that would allow us to become a province that can stand alone. Irving doesn't help either, they have a monopoly in the province and the people at his mercy we should get some competition for him so that he would see that your workers are your most important asset and deserve a fair wage. Self sufficient means that people are paid sufficient to earn a decent living. We New Brunswickers have been treated poorly for so long that we have forgotten that we have the right to demand that we are treated with respect and dignity from the Corporate sector as well as the Government.