Commentary – Is the NDP on the rise?

The following is a commentary published in the Daily Gleaner on August 14, 2014


Recently, several New Brunswick media outlets have reported on the new business-like NDP. A Daily Gleaner editorial lauded NDP Leader Dominic Cardy’s “common sense approach” while other media noted his clear and practical stands on issues of concern to New Brunswickers.

Could something be happening here?

In the Fredericton area, the NDP unveiled a talented candidate group, including Cardy (Fredericton West-Hanwell), who should garner support for his principled-yet-practical, intelligent approach; Brian Duplessis, former United Way executive director, in Fredericton North; and former provincial cabinet minister Kelly Lamrock in Fredericton South.

Add the solid experience of New Maryland-Sunbury candidate Aimee Foreman (business manager and owner with solid credentials at non-profit groups); Sharon Scott-Levesque in Fredericton York (nurse and former small business owner); and Amanda Diggins in Oromocto Lincoln (early childhood educator at the Gagetown Military Family Resource Centre), and even without ridings yet to choose a candidate, the NDP match up quality-wise with the offerings of the local Progressive Conservatives and Liberals.

So, can the NDP win here? Dominic Cardy is widely respected and his presence in the legislature would benefit many New Brunswickers. Voters in Fredericton West-Hanwell could do the province a big favour by adding Cardy’s sensible voice to the legislature.

His candidates benefit by the Tories’ low standings in the polls (lower than Richard Hatfield’s percentage in the Liberal sweep of 1987), the anger of retired civil servants towards the PCs for breaking their earned pension deal and the Liberals for refusing clear and outright support to pensioners and the perception that the old parties are not capable of solving our problems.

In my riding of New Maryland-Sunbury, the Liberals and Tories picked candidates with an “on-paper” upside and practical downside. Retired General Michael Pearson, Liberal candidate, may have skills to command, but politics requires compromise and patience – which may not be common “general” traits.

PC backroom guy and candidate Jeff Carr is brother No. 3 in the political powerhouse Carr family, but Jeff played a significant role in the information leak scandal that plagued his boss and MLA brother, Jody last year.

NDP candidate Foreman’s background with non-profit groups like the Fredericton Community Kitchen, and management roles and ownership of her own business show a diverse wealth of business and community experience that enables her, I believe, to better see the big picture than the narrow – yet deep – experience of her two main competitors. Will it be enough to overcome the big political machines?

Well, remember 1991 provincial election when the Confederation of Regions Party ran well under the radar yet won six seats in central New Brunswick? I’m not saying the NDP is similar in policy to COR. However, people in the Fredericton region have a history of quietly replacing government MLAs when they are unhappy – and it certainly seems they are unhappy with many of our local PC MLAs.

Add to this the 2011 federal election results in the Province of Quebec when the NDP won 58 seats. Previously they held one. Who saw that coming? Could it happen here?

I side with the wisdom shown recently by The Daily Gleaner editorial writer – I’m not going to bet the farm on the NDP but hope some of their candidates win.

Really, we can’t do any worse than the Tories who seem to take strategy advice from Inspector Clouseau, and an indecisive Liberal Opposition where policy seems to begin with “on the one hand.”

Mr. Cardy, you’ve got my vote. 75,000 more and we’ve got a horse race.

David Wiezel 
is a former New Maryland mayor and has been involved in elections since the 1960s. He is about to cast his first vote for the NDP in New Brunswick.

NDP Would Offer Fair Deal for Drivers

FREDERICTON – The New Brunswick NDP is calling for changes to regulations surrounding motor vehicles and insurance to give New Brunswick motorists a fair deal. NDP Leader Dominic Cardy is calling for three key reforms that would be introduced by an NDP government. They are:

  • Extending the period between mandatory motor vehicle inspections from one to two years.
  • Banning the use of credit scores as a way of deciding individual insurance rates for auto and home coverage.
  • Allowing for multiple vehicles to be registered at the same time, helping businesses that operate fleets.

“We have a responsibility to protect New Brunswick consumers from unfair and punitive practices and I believe these changes would be a huge step in that direction,” Cardy said. “New Brunswick deserves a better deal for drivers and that is what the new NDP would deliver.”

Currently only New Brunswick and PEI require annual motor vehicle inspections.

“I believe moving to the two-year interval will provide welcome financial relief at a time when many New Brunswickers greatly need it,” Cardy said.

Cardy also condemns the practice of using credit scores as factors in determining auto and home insurance rates.

“There are legitimate criteria that should be used when determining insurance rates – accident history, age, and previous claims are all acceptable. But using credit scores systemically discriminates against lower-income drivers and unfairly punishes people who may have gone through a bad period due to a divorce or job layoff,” Cardy said.

NDP Would Submit Forestry Deal for Judicial Review

FREDERICTON – NDP Leader Dominic Cardy committed an NDP government to immediately launch a court review of the Alward Government’s forestry strategy.

“The Supreme Court of Canada’s recent decision on aboriginal title and Crown lands underscores how reckless the government has been with this last-minute forestry strategy,” Cardy said. “An NDP government will direct our Attorney-General to put the matter before the courts to gain clarity on government’s obligations to amend the Crown Lands and Forests Act.”

A reference for the Attorney-General can resolve the matter faster than a citizens’ court challenge, and is used when government believes it may be violating the law and wants to comply. Cardy emphasized the NDP strategy would be better for the environment and the economy than other approaches.

“The Conservative approach to ignoring the law creates uncertainty for investors, because any decision could be struck down by the courts. The Liberals will condemn the process, but offer uncertainty on what they would do instead. Tearing up contracts scares off the investors we want and hurts the economy. So rather than trying to get around the law, let’s use the law, let’s have certainty and sit down with First Nations, science experts and business and do this right,” he said.

“We don’t need to start tearing up contracts to challenge a reckless deal,” Cardy said. “If you want certainty this will be dealt with in a balanced, reasonable way, only the NDP offers that guarantee.”

Joint Statement by Phil Comeau and Mathieu Chayer on ANB Announcement

The following is a joint statement by paramedics Phil Comeau (NDP candidate for Saint John East) and Mathieu Chayer (NDP candidate for Caraquet) on the recently announced language requirements by Ambulance New Brunswick.

We support the move to make Ambulance New Brunswick more bilingual. New Brunswick’s status as Canada’s only bilingual province makes us unique and it needs to be reflected in how we provide service within our communities.

We take issue with the timeframe that has been imposed on the employees of Ambulance New Brunswick which we believe to be unfair and unrealistic.

The date at which ANB employees need to meet the bilingualism requirements should be pushed ahead 18 months to allow paramedics to obtain the necessary language training. To give us little over three weeks’ notice before implementation is not good for our colleagues and more importantly, not good for New Brunswickers.

We welcome the offer of language training paid for by the employer and we are certain many ANB employees will take advantage of this opportunity. But not if they are not given the opportunity to meet the new requirements before they are implemented.

Ambulance New Brunswick and the government have known since 2007 that they need to comply with increased bilingual requirements for ANB employees. Nothing has been done to prepare for this transition. It is not right that employees pay the price for years of inaction and incompetence by Liberal and Conservative governments.

This plan was made without input from CUPE local 4848. We are concerned when contract rights are not respected. We do not want to send the signal that New Brunswick does not respect the collective bargaining process.

Phil Comeau

Mathieu Chayer

Municipalities not more bureaucracy should determine local economic development

FREDERICTON – The following is a statement by NDP Leader Dominic Cardy on the Liberal economic development announcement.

“Mr. Gallant needs to get his story straight. He tells us regional economic development agencies are ‘deeply flawed’ then goes ahead and proposes creating even more. He puts out a press release saying some of the current agencies will be maintained and then tells the media, on the same day, that he will scrap all the existing agencies. Which one is the truth?”

“It seems the Liberals want to add another layer of government bureaucracy on top of the broken system we already have. Mr. Gallant, we have powerful local economic development agencies – they’re called municipalities and the new NDP would give them the power to direct economic development. We need to take centralized bureaucracy out of economic development. Brian Gallant wants to entrench it.  New Brunswick deserves better.”