With Maxime Bernier’s new party looming, NAFTA talks having been derailed, the pipeline project in shambles, interest rates on the rise with unprecedented debt levels, and Canada’s love/hate relationship with Saudi Arabia, 2019 promises uncertainty.
2014 was an interesting year politically.
A young leader of the Liberal Party was on the rise, who offered much rhetoric and little substance, he was talking about a major infrastructure program to build jobs, using deficits to accomplish his ambitious spending promises; and while he was gearing up to defeat an older social conservative, the talk of the town was about his hair. Of course, I’m talking about New Brunswick’s current premier – Brian Gallant.
I’ve heard him referred to as a Trudeau-clone, but it would be far more proper to say Trudeau is a clone of Gallant. The Liberal playbook is written in New Brunswick.
New Brunswick has similar ratios to urban and rural Canada and regional disputes that often center around French and English populations; the province’s industrial city, Saint John, is economically robust from their oil refining but is tapered against the social programs sought after by the Northern Francophone population.
Liberal leader Frank McKenna’s crushing defeat of the PCs was followed by Chretien’s crushing defeat of the federal PCs – both of whom ushered in a decade of Liberal dominance, and the conservative David Alward’s 2010 landslide victory was quickly followed by Harper’s 2011 majority. The province is usually a good indication as to the political will of Canadians.
When Brian Gallant was talking about infrastructure and deficits, the Trudeau Liberals were paying attention. Gallant, much like Trudeau, has been underwhelming in his delivery since the election.
Both men talk about record investments in the economy, but neither can point to meaningful results from those investments. New Brunswick’s provincial treasury is in shambles to the extent that the province’s credit rating was downgraded.
The question is now, how are New Brunswickers going to react?
If NAFTA fails, this will decimate New Brunswick.
Exports to the U.S. account for 50% of the province’s private sector.
Trudeau’s pipeline failure in the West was preceded by the failure of Energy East – which could have resuscitated New Brunswick’s sluggish economy. The national issues are impacting New Brunswick.
Running against Gallant is a shrewd businessman, and previously, a numbers-oriented finance minister – Blaine Higgs.
His approach is to focus on results rather than investments, how New Brunswickers react to his campaign is something Federal leaders ought to be taking notes on.
New Brunswick also has a new right-wing party – the People’s Alliance.
The parallels don’t entirely exist with Maxime Bernier, however, they both tend to appeal to rural, social conservatives, and preach a message of not being beholden to lobbyists, by ending corporate welfare.
With the election less than a month away, it appears likely they will garner seats in New Brunswick’s legislature, something the party failed to do in the last election.
The NDP were completely shut out in the previous election as well. Whether or not they can recover in this election could very well signal the fate of Jagmeet Singh, who also takes the reins, after his party was decimated in the previous election.
However, much like Singh, thus far the current NDP provincial leader hasn’t made additional inroads with the voters.
The Green Party was more fortunate. Much like their federal counterparts, they managed to elect one representative to the legislature. This gave a much-needed boost to their polling numbers.
The election is less than a month away. How New Brunswickers will react to a leader who campaigned with rhetoric rather than substance but ultimately failed in his first term is going to be an interesting set up to the national elections next year.
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