So here I am a life long non-partisan individual on a Wednesday night at 7:00 pm about to enter the inner sanctum of the provincial Conservative Party. Would I be sworn to secrecy? Would there be a secret password? Nop, ….. the event was open to the public, and the occasion? One of a series of provincial Conservative Party leadership debates, this one held at the Grand Bay/Westfield Middle School on Aug 31.
Given my aversion to the N.B. adversarial political system and politicians I felt a bit like an atheist entering the Vatican during the voting and selection of the next Pope.
Who would be chosen to lead New Brunswick out of the economic darkness? When would we see the white smoke that indicated ” We have a new leader, a leader that will defeat the squandering incompetent Liberals”. You know, the party that had taken their rightful place in the NB government’s revolving door of flip flop politics?
There certainly is no shortage of economic darkness in our fair province; a province that has struggled with economic growth for decades, a static and aging population, political promise spending that has put us deeper and deeper in the hole to the tune of $13 billion dollars and counting, which equates to a public debt that works out to over $17,000 for every man woman and child and close to $700 million a year in interest payments on the debt.
So here I am, a guy that has probably written a dozen or more articles that has identified politicians as sitting at or near the bottom of the list of “most or least trusted professions“.
So what am I doing here?
I have come to realize that New Brunswick doesn’t need or cannot afford politicians and short sighted governments that promise to spend more and more of “our” tax dollars as well as mortgaging the future of the next generation. We can’t afford simplistic Pollyanna “pie in the sky” promises to reform or re-invent the system every four years. Be they Conservative, Liberal, NDP or Green, we need a pragmatic leader that has the guts and experience to tell Conservative supporters and voters not what they want to hear, rather what they need to hear, if we are to have a brighter future .
We don’t need another politician we need an experienced problem solver.
There was no shortage of folks sporting buttons to show their support for the PC savior. Prior to the beginning of the debate I had short conversation with a Mel supporter. He wanted a Saint John boy at the provincial helm, “it’s our turn”. Given what is at stake I would like to think the requirements for a provincial leader goes a little deeper than support for the “local boy”, but that’s just my common sense business attitude. I don’t care if the candidate is from Swamp Hollow NB as long as he can get the job done.
With everyone securely planted in their seats each leadership candidate was given an opportunity to deliver their pitch. Here is a list of the candidates: Mike Allen, Monica L. Barley, Blaine M. Higgs, Brian MacDonald, Mel K. Norton and Jake Stewart.
One of the critically important questions given that NB has an aging demographic had to do with our health care system that currently consumes 50 cents out of every tax dollar and falls far short of the desirable and important “patient centred care” objectives. So which candidate has the solution?
Since I don’t profess to know anything about the world of healthcare I will offer the following from a healthcare professional in a recent Commentary by a Dr. Patti Forgeron currently practicing medicine in the Saint John region. “I am nonpartisan. I don’t belong to any political party. I have reached out to and communicated with the current and three previous health ministers. This Liberal provincial government needs a reality check, as well as past and future governments. Historically, governments of this province refuse to work with previous government policies and work diligently to dismantle those policies. For example, why would any government dismantle the good work created by our previous minister of finance, Blaine Higgs. In my opinion, Mr. Higgs created the most important legislation of this decade when he put forth the Fiscal Transparency and Accountability Act. The citizens of New Brunswick should be outraged that any government would not adopt such legislation given the economic situation of this province”.
So when do we get to see the white smoke? The debates will go on for some time with the new PC leader being selected October 22nd at the PC convention. I doubt it will have the Trump/Hillary fireworks but hey….it’s my province and my future so I’ll be there ready to vote for Blaine Higgs……. how about you?