(crossposted to CanadaEast)
Whenever I am driving in Montreal or Toronto, I often find myself yelling "pick a lane" at some of my more aggressive and less logical fellow drivers.
My advice to Jeannot Volpé is similar.
Much as he did this spring during the legislative sitting, rather than picking one or two or three major issues and focussing on them and making an effective critique of the government, his reaction to the recent cabinet shuffle was unfocussed and made him look bitter and overly negative when he could have used the opportunity to make some political hay.
The cabinet shuffle had a number of areas that could have been seen as flaws. No one likes to see more politicians at the top, and the cabinet has two extra members. Women are way under represented and that didn't improve with this shuffle. Volpé ignored those points. Volpé criticized one area that makes sense - a floor crosser being included in the cabinet - but then couldn't resist himself and threw his credibility out the window in going way off track.
Rather than make an arguments about democracy, he went on a rant about how Tories were mad, Liberal backbenchers would revolt and how the dirty rat would never be re-elected. How about: "Crossing the floor is an affront to democracy and an insult to voters. Shawn Graham should never have justified this action by admitting these people into his caucus and certainly shouldn't have rewarded it by putting one of them into his cabinet"? That is a reasonable criticism that would resonate with people, but with Volpé, it has to become petty and personal.
Then he makes up some nonsense about how this cabinet shuffle is an insult to Francophone New Brunswickers because Hédard Albert and Carmel Robichaud were "demoted". Huh? All cabinet ministers are equal at the cabinet table and even if they weren't, the argument doesn't make sense.
Albert moves from a department focussed on the machinations of government whose primary role is to negotiate labour agreements with the civil service under the close watch and direction of the premier and finance minister to a ministry which has been touted by the premier as a top priority.
Robichaud moves to an admittedly smaller department in terms of budget but one which requires close relationships with the province's 103 municipalities during a period when the province is talking about substantial change to municipal governance. These don't sound like demotions to me. In Albert's case, it would seem a promotion and in Robichaud's case it is, at least, a lateral move if not actually a promotion as well.
Why the Tories are waiting until next fall to pick a leader I will never figure out. Jeannot Volpé is the best thing that has happened to the Liberal Party of New Brunswick in a generation!