Friday, July 13, 2007

The best ever New Brunswick Premier

The Calgary Grit is organizing his third annual political history poll after a successful Greatest Prime Minister in 2005 (won by Sir Wilfrid Laurier) and Greatest Prime Minister we never had in 2006 (won by Preston Manning), this year he is doing The Search for Canada's Best Premier.

The contest will begin with mini-provincial competitions and one rep from each province will go forward into round two. Premiers with longer terms of office have an advantage as the longest six will get a bye, while the bottom four will have to duke it out to move on.

CG is farming out these provincial competitions to other blogs and I have volunteered to do New Brunswick. I am not sure whether or not he will take me up on that offer but, in any event, it is a curious thing to figure out. Let's do some leg work now and, if I am selected, we can carry forward and, if not, we can give some ready made feedback to the real host.

The basic ground rules from him were as follows:

For simplicity’s sake, I want to limit the field for the first round to 5 or 6 Premiers per province so if there's a man out there who you're afraid will be left out, speak now or forever hold your peace.
I think the fairest way to go about it would be to pick three Tories and three Grits.

For me the first two Grits are obvious: Frank McKenna and Louis Robichaud. Who gets the other Grit crown is less clear, though it should probably be between Liberal founder A. G. Blair and Henry R. Emmerson (who, while only in office for 3 years, brought forward policies way ahead of his time) or maybe John McNair?

For the Tories, Richard Hatfield, at least in his first 12 years in office, is an obvious choice. The other Tories could be James Kidd Flemming, who was a promising premier before he was driven from office on corruption charges, J.B.M. Baxter who foreshadowed the likes of Danny Williams in standing up for the Maritimes (yes I know, Newfoundland is not a Maritime province), Hugh John Flemming for his fiscal conservatism and modernization of electric power and, God forbid, Bernard Lord who, after 7 years and after over 60% of New Brunswickers polled said he had no accomplishments in office, still win the popular vote in 2006!

Your thoughts in the comments section. Three Liberals and three Tories. Who should they be?

UPDATE: See my top eight - 2 pre-Confederation, 3 Liberals and 3 Conservatives - by clicking here.

10 comments:

Mushroom said...

What about Samuel Leonard Tilley? Took NB into Confederation.

I will go with Louis Robichaud by a wide margin. By integrating the Acadians into the New Brunswick political and economic culture, he turned the province into the bilingual state of today. Hatfield merely continued Robichaud's legacy, no mean fact given the province's conservative tradition.

McKenna and Lord are more government managers who knew how to attract businesses (mainly call centres) into the province.

Anonymous said...

I completely agree with Mushroom. It's Louis J. Robichaud by a wide margin!

But for arguments sake, three Liberals and three Tories?

Libs:

1. Louis J. Robichaud (by a wide margin)

but if I have to name a couple of others...
2. Frank McKenna
3. John McNair (though he is the Premier that facilitated the Irving monopoly... good for jobs but maybe not so much for competition).

Tories

1. Richard Hatfield (he'd be the best of the Tory Premiers)
2. Hugh John Flemming (he has a forestry centre named after him so he must've done something right).
3. Baxter (cuz he has a milk company named after him).

nbpolitico said...

I was wondering if Tilley would count as he was only premier before Confederation. Have to check with CG on the rules for that.

nbpolitico said...

Tilley is also troublesome in that he was a Liberal when he was premier but split with the NB Liberals and supported Macdonald's Canadian Tories after Confederation. The pre-confederation Liberal and Tory parties basically dissolved and took years to reform. In fact one Conservative premier of the 1880s was thrown out of office for being too supportive of Macdonald who they distrusted because of his lead minister from New Brunswick the "Liberal" Tilley.

Spinks said...

Mushroom wrote By integrating the Acadians into the New Brunswick political and economic culture, he turned the province into the bilingual state of today.

Is that all good? It's wasted millions along the way too as Anglophones fled New Brunswick because they couldn't get jobs here. Integrating Acadians was good but not having some foresight to recognize that bilingualism (and let's be honest that's really a politically correct code word for French) needs to be used whenever and wherever it makes sense has been a sorepoint ever since. I'm all for bilingualism. Je suis bilangue aussi, but it's gotten to be such a sacred cow that there can't be an honest conversation about the pros and cons without being labelled a bigot. That part of the legacy stinks.

Mushroom said...

I would go with Tilley as a Liberal. His main tenure would be from 1864-1867. As a Conservative, he is more known as Macdonald's lead minister from NB.

Spinks,

I presume you are going to revive CORE's electoral prospects in the not too distant future.

nbpolitico said...

Tilley was actually only premier from 64-65 and then defeated by anti-Confedrates. It was another guy who was elected in 1866 to head the pro-Confederation government.

Anonymous said...

Frank McKenna and Bernard Lord do not pass the test. One was too dictatorial and the other was do-nothing. Other choices sound good.

Spinks said...

I really have little use for the one issue party that was COR mushroom but your jumping on that points out the problem. I merely raised the idea of questioning the sacred cow and you wish to dismiss me by making connections to a long dead political entity. An honest discussion and a balance when it comes to official bilingualism (and that goes for French and English) is long overdue.

Best NB Premier? Still waiting.

Northern NB said...

Louis Robichaud is the winner for sure. He's the one responsible for New Brunsick's move into the 20th century. Before that, the administration of New Brunswick was base on a feodal style model.