Monday, July 09, 2007

For the sake of democracy....

It is no secret that I am a Liberal and I think you can infer from my writings that, though no one is perfect, I think Shawn Graham is doing a pretty good job as Premier of this province. However, no democracy can function well and no government can remain on track without a strong opposition holding their feet to the fire.

Despite having one one of the largest oppositions possible, with an opposition caucus full of people who are only months removed from having been ministers of the crown, drawn from an opposition party that actually won the popular vote 10 months ago I believe we have less effective opposition to government than from 1988-1991 when the Liberals sat in a legislature full of Liberals.

The summer is here and the ever-so-effective "leader" of the opposition previously decreed that a leadership race could begin now. The House adjourned Friday, and the Tories have gone 72 hours too long without starting their well overdue leadership campaign. As I predicted, Volpé has been a complete disaster as leader.

Whether you like the Liberals or not, I think we can all agree they are getting a free ride from the opposition.

And what of the other parties? The once proud NDP, after having its worst showing in over three decades, has been without a leader for longer than the Tories and has not convened a leadership race. History will remind us that Elizabeth Weir became the effective opposition voice she was not so much because she was effective, but because she was the only voice when the Tories were leaderless and had no seats in the late 1980s. The NDP could be making up a lot of the ground they lost last year by being a sensible and strong opposition to the Liberals. Instead, they join the Tories in the leadership vacuum and the opposition is silent.

The Greens announced in the fall with a fair bit of fanfare (well media attention anyway) that they would start a party. With the other two registered parties going nowhere fast, they could have pulled themselves together, recruiting the 10 people spread across 10 ridings the need to register, nominated a respectable person such as David Coons or some professor as their leader and filled in while this vacuum (which will surely, hopefully go away) still exists. In the meantime, their counterparts in PEI made Canadian history by surpassing the NDP and taking third place in the recent election there. Obviously there is some room for the Green Party to make an impact of some kind.

COME ON PEOPLE! For the sake of democracy, please, won't some party or some group somewhere stand up and be an effective alternative voice? Our system needs it.


Anonymous said...

Contrary to NB Politico's opinion,
the NB NDP has been out there making noise about what the government and the opposition have been up to.
Unfotunately, the Irving press do not always report press releases or commentaries from the NDP.

But the party has been vocal on the $10. minimum wage, the energy hub in Saint John, floor crossing legislation, double breasting of companies,was the first party to introduce a climate change plan and continues to fight for everyday, ordinary New Brunswickers.
Leadership Convention, Oct. 13/07
in Moncton. Will the NDP choose a new leader before the PC's?
For sure!

NB taxpayer said...

Contrary to NB Politico's opinion,
the NB NDP has been out there making noise about what the government and the opposition have been up to.

Wrong anonymous. If the dippers want to show NBers that they are ready for primetime (to govern), then it is absolutely essential for them to be able to tout a disciplined message attached to a strong party brand. Unfortunately, the NDP have demonstrated neither.

Furthermore, they hven't been out in front on any issue since the last election. Not even the environment, which should have been an issue that they took ownership of? An issue, which if you haven't noticed, has been left unattended by the two mainstream parties. Not to mention, there [NDP] lack of initiative has been the rebirth special interest in this province as left wing activist have been picking up the slack lately.

Anyway, I could go on and on about the major missteps of the NDP in NB, but I won't. Moreover, I think nbpolitico hit the nail on the head in his great post above. And let me tell you, he's right!

nbpolitico said...

Leadership Convention, Oct. 13/07 in Moncton. Will the NDP choose a new leader before the PC's? (sic)

This is news to me. Perhaps the NDP should mention they are having a leadership convention on their website for a start?

At the end of the day anon, the NDP could have the best policy in the world, but if they don't have a leader to sell it, then no one is going to hear about it.

It is nice to hear that they will be having a leadership convention, but they should tell some one about that too.

The Irvings may or may not be interested in picking up what the NDP has to say, but I am interested and they've made no news release about setting a date for the leadership convention.

mikel said...

You don't need a leader to make a noise, technically, Volpe is not a 'leader', at least in the democratic sense. If you consider Volpe a leader then by rights Pat Hanratty is a leader as well.

As for noise, you have to keep in mind that the NDP has few members, and these people have to make a living. Hanratty had an article in the Irving paper about public insurance, but it always seems that when the NDP talks about anything that some people don't like then its the same as silence.

Keep in mind also that its three and a half years from the next election and the NDP has no seats, so its not like they have the clout to get media messages out. As you may have noticed, there were four articles talking about how 'New Brunswickers were ready for private health services' yet how many stories about the latest study on auto insurance do you think you'll see?

But as you admit, you're a liberal, so of course the tories are 'being a lousy opposition'. Every time the tories disagree on something the hue and cry is that 'they aren't complaining RESPONSIBLY'. Of course thats a subjective notion.

For proof of that you need only check out the provincial tory blogs talking about what a lousy job Graham is doing. Higher taxes, idiotic commission statements, fascist behaviour, conflicting statements, almost non stop protests at the legislature, etc. And this is only the first year.

The tories ARE the opposition, just because you don't like them doesn't mean they aren't 'opposing'. As for the other parties, one thing becoming more constant in politics is that the LESS the public knows about you and your policies, the MORE likely they are to vote for you. If they open their mouths now then like every other party they get pigeonholed, its far safer to wait.

And of course the reality is that there simply may be no people willing to run. David Coon has enough to do and probably, even rightly, assumes he can do more as a lobby. Once again its the electoral system that prevents most parties mobilizing, since there simply is no point. When you can get elected with more votes than your opponent in what is basically a two party system them obviously there is little incentive for a fringe party to 'mobilize'.

nbpolitico said...


I am far from alone in thinking the Tories are not doing well in opposition.

Will I agree with them? Unlikely. But I will respect them.

You make a very good point, "check out the provincial tory blogs talking about what a lousy job Graham is doing. Higher taxes, idiotic commission statements, fascist behaviour, conflicting statements, almost non stop protests at the legislature". The Liberals are not perfect and, especially from a conservative and libertarian perspective, this government is not doing a good job.

But, the Tories do not spend their time questioning tax increases. The do not spend their time questioning the commissions that have been appointed, they don't join the protesters on the front steps and take their cries to the legislature. The average Tory day in the legislature focusses on three things: a) Bernard Lord was awesome; b) I can't believe you bailed out that credit union and c) T.J. Burke should resign because an administrative error by someone he never met failed to have his pardon posted.

Give me a break. If the Opposition spent their days criticizing the Liberals on their substantive failures rather than reminicing about how wonderful they were and railing on petty non sense, I wouldn't have written this post.

NB taxpayer said...

As for noise, you have to keep in mind that the NDP has few members...[...]

You make that statement l;ike it's someone else's fault other than the NDP. Moreover, the fact that you are willing to make that statement shows how far away from reality members of the NDP really are here in New Brunswick.

They may as well be in Waterloo. ;-) Oh yeah, you are!! Ooops!!

Eugene said...

The NDP in this province simply have to purge themselves of the losers on their executive to get themselves moving in the right direction. There is a reason why most New Brunswickers think of the NDP as a party of sad, aging socialists dreaming of a return to 1967 - they are.

mikel said...

Just remember there is only one media. Perhaps you are one of the few reading the minutes from each session, but I haven't seen any precis' of the sessions in a long time so I'm thinking not (and its too bad, they were really good).

I DO read the minutes from almost each session and that's far from the case. Keep in mind that question period is hardly democracy at its best, the liberals pretty much did the same thing. However, there is quite a bit of variety in there, we just don't hear about it from media.

They have been talking about virtually all those things you mention almost non stop. Question period doesn't usually reflect very well on anybody, and it doesn't reflect any better on the liberals from a critical standpoint. Their answers are always 'you guys suck, we have to pay for your mistakes', etc.

As for the NDP, its been almost a year since this was hashed out so we might as well again. Keep in mind that the blogging community is tiny, there are maybe ten people who regularly post at blogs out of three quarters of a million, so speaking for other New Brunswickers is always a tough sell.

However, once again lets go back to what they actually SAY. NDP policies typically have the majority support of canadians virtually everywhere polls are done. Not many polls are done in New Brunswick so we don't know quite as much, however, we DO know that public insurance was SO popular that an all party committee recommended it, and that the liberals almost won that last election on it.

Of course the NDP was talking about it first, then the liberal party took it as party policy and then we know what happened. Oooops, lie number one. In today's paper comes lie number two, and apparantly according to some liberal puppet New Brunswickers didn't actually believe that the liberals were going to get rid of the zones. So by simply changing the zones around they 'were lying but everybody knows they didn't really mean it'.

And of course the media has even more letters and studies showing that the savings the liberals 'promised' haven't appeared,and once again its only the NDP that is talking about it, the liberals have 'seen the light'.

That is just one example, but we can certainly go through any of the policies and show that the NDP aren't nearly how they are characterized above, in fact, for a good percentage of people they don't go far enough.

So we KNOW from the public insurance just how popular NDP policies are, thats been proven. I suspect when you look at forestry, the environment, labour laws, etc., you will find the same thing.

THere is a reason why Graham doesn't even want New Brunswickers to have the chance to vote in a referendum on proportional representation. The NDP have been marginalized very effectively, mostly by media, but also simply because they can't get members. When you have no money and no members its a pretty tough slog. Of course as a party they are no more organized than the other two parties, but if you look at the last electoral campaign ALL parties did a pretty lousy job on the campaign trail.

That of course doesn't forgive the fact that they didn't even have a website up at the beginning of the campaign, and they operate much like every party. However, even though we only have a minority of opinions here it does reflect one common position in New Brunswick-most of the criticism of parties at blogs (and elsewhere) comes from OUTSIDE the political sphere. This blog owner is a liberal member but most in the province aren't. The media always made a big deal about how few show up at NDP nominations, however, the other parties aren't much different. In Saint John I seem to recall a liberal nomination that had just over a thousand people, and thats in one of the most populous ridings.

And finally, of course the 'policies' don't even matter much anymore, in fact the NDP are the only ones that have policies that are fairly reflective of most New Brunswickers. The liberals have already broken numerous promises and of course weren't even voted for by most New Brunswickers. Even during the campaign they were fudging on public insurance and you couldn't get them to say one way or another until they came up with this "tough negotiation" crap that everybody knows means "we'll fold like a pair of sixes".

So IF the province ever gets around to having proportional representation, then at least it becomes a little more viable to talk about the NDP and its relation to the electorate. Everybody knows there is no point in voting for them, so until the vote actually means something there is no way to know.

Anonymous said...

off topic:

Louis Robichaud for greatest Canadian Premier!

NB taxpayer said...

The NDP in this province simply have to purge themselves of the losers on their executive to get themselves moving in the right direction.

eugene: is that a play on words?? lol