NB Politics potpourri

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Caissa

The Liberals are looking to give grassroots party members greater influence in selecting the party's next leader, according to a commission report released on Thursday.

The New Brunswick Liberal Association launched its internal renewal commission shortly after the party was turfed from office last September.

The commission came up with 31 recommendations that are designed to reinvigorate the party after becoming the first one-term government in the province's history. The recommendations were released on Thursday and Liberals will vote on the proposals at a special membership meeting on Nov. 26 in Fredericton.

Jane Fritz, who was one of the commissioners, said on Thursday there was significant tension within the party about whether to stick with the traditional delegate system or move to a one-member, one-vote model.

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/new-brunswick/story/2011/10/14/nb-liberal-...

Caissa

The Progressive Conservative government will set out a number of key priorities for the upcoming session in its throne speech that will be delivered on Wednesday afternoon.

Premier David Alward's government is struggling to contain its projected deficit that has already ballooned by nearly $100 million since March and it is continuing to face opposition to the possibility of shale gas development in southern New Brunswick.

Finance Minister Blaine Higgs was unavailable to discuss his inability to rein in spending on Tuesday in advance of the throne speech but he has said repeatedly this will be the session where serious cuts happen.

"We've caused a refocus to control spending and to reduce spending, but the major decisions are yet to come," Higgs said recently.

Some of the topics that are likely to be on the Progressive Conservative government's agenda this session:

  • Changing public sector pensions to make them affordable in the long term
  • Overhauling municipal and rural government
  • Cutting government spending

At the same time, activists opposed to shale gas development, in particular the process of hydro-fracturing, say they will continue their protests.

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/new-brunswick/story/2011/11/23/nb-alward-t...

Caissa

Premier David Alward's government outlined a plan in its throne speech on Wednesday to cut the number of MLAs during the upcoming electoral boundaries redistribution initiative.

The Alward government's second throne speech continued to warn of challenging economic times and broadly listed a series of looming reforms that will streamline the New Brunswick government.

In recent months, civil servants in government departments and nurses have been laid off in the province's attempt to curtail its $545-million forecasted deficit. Now, some of New Brunswick's 55 MLAs will also be among those losing their jobs.

The Electoral Boundaries and Redistribution Act is being revised to "ensure provincial ridings are as representative and equitable as possible." But the Alward government is sending a clear signal that there will be fewer politicians in Fredericton after the 2014 election.

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/new-brunswick/story/2011/11/23/nb-throne-s...

webby66

Even more interesting then the boring post from above that doesn't bother with the reduction in MLA's is this nugget.

https://twitter.com/#!/poitrasCBC/status/139775478176284672

 

Enjoy

Webby

Caissa

Eleven anti-poverty and social justice organizations have signed an open letter to the provincial Tory government denouncing its consultation process on a two-tiered minimum wage.

The groups say it's unacceptable to use information received electronically and anonymously to justify a lower minimum wage for workers who receive tips.

"A true consultation is required before making such important decisions that will impact the working poor," wrote Jean-Claude Basque, the provincial co-ordinator for the New Brunswick Common Front for Social Justice, one of the groups that signed the letter on Monday. "How can anonymous online answers be considered credible? In fact, can we even believe these answers? What about transparency?"

Last month, Martine Coulombe, the minister of Post-secondary Education, Training and Labour, announced a six-week consultation on the concept of a special minimum wage for servers earning tips. The public was invited to complete an online survey between Nov. 2 and Dec. 14.

http://telegraphjournal.canadaeast.com/front/article/1461421

Stockholm

The latest CRA poll in NB:

CRA: PC 45% (up from 41), Liberals 28% (down from 34), NDP 23% (same), Green 3% (up from 0), PA 1% (down from 2). Undecided 43% #nb #nbpoli

The NB NDP is holding up well at 23% for the second straight month and they getting tinto the Liberals rear-view mirror!

Caissa

An election is a long way of and the Libs have an interim leader. That being said it is nice to see the NDP polling consistently over 20%. Cardy has been working hard to keep the party's name in the press. The NDP Federal campaign is also keeping the brand before the NB population.

Stockholm

The previous CRA poll was dismissed as an aberration because it was so soon after the federal election and the field dates also coincided with Layton's death and funeral etc...This poll is significant because NDP support is holding at a very high level three months later when you would think that the post federal election halo and the Layton funeral effect would have worn off!

Newfoundlander_...

It's interesting that the "next leader of the Liberal Party" is prefered over Dominic Cardy for premier.

Stockholm

That's a very common phenomenon in polling. People can project any fantasy image they want on to the "next leader of the Liberal Party". Its like how in the US - every time a poll asks would you vote for Obama or the next Republican presidential nominee - the GOP mystery cndidate wins. But when its Obama vs. Romney or Obama vs. Gingrich etc... Obama always wins

Caissa

Beausejour Liberal MP Dominic LeBlanc is coming under renewed pressure to enter the New Brunswick Liberal leadership race.

LeBlanc came under immediate pressure to consider a foray into provincial politics after former premier Shawn Graham lost the 2010 election.

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/new-brunswick/story/2011/12/08/nb-dominic-...

mtm

The Windsor Energy saga has taken a rather troubling turn, as NDP Leader Dominic Cardy received a phone call from Windsor's CEO threatening legal action for comments he made, repeating public information that has been reported in the media on the issue.

Rather frightening that the company would think that they could threaten their critics - and a political party no less.  Makes you wonder who else they've called.

http://www.nbndp.ca/node/552

 

 

Welcome to the Third World: Windsor Energy CEO Threatens New Democrats Over Shale Gas Criticism

MONCTON - On the day the Conservative government admitted they are powerless to discipline Windsor Energy, Windsor President and CEO Khalid Amin phoned New Brunswick New Democrat leader Dominic Cardy and threatened him with legal action if he didn’t stop “defaming” the Calgary oil and gas company.

“Mr. Amin called from Alberta and said, if I didn’t stop criticizing his company, I might expect a call from his lawyer,” said Cardy. 

“When I said some fracking companies were the bottom feeders of the energy industry I didn’t expect to have it confirmed quite this fast, and in quite this way: within hours of hearing that our government can’t control them, Windsor starts threatening its critics,” said Cardy.

“Mr. Amin needs to know that even though the Liberals signed leases without enforcement provisions and the Conservatives are so desperate for money they’ll let his company do what it wants, New Brunswick’s New Democrats will stand up to these sort of threats,” said Cardy.

“Mr. Amin, take this to your lawyers: New Brunswick needs industry, we need development and progress. New Brunswick does not need fracking. We’ve seen this across North America: fracking companies can’t defend their industry in the open so they resort to threats and intimidation,” said Cardy.

“I want to ask Premier Alward and Minister Northrup whether they will accept this latest example of third-world behavior from Windsor Energy. Or will you have the courage, as difficult as it would be, to say no, this is not the sort of company we need in New Brunswick.”

 

webby66
Stockholm

Seems like Dominic Cardy has had more visibility in the last six months than leaders of the NDP have had collectively in New Brunswick in the 7 years since Elizabeth Weir quit!

Caissa

New Brunswick's population grew by 2.9 per cent between 2006 and 2011, bucking a decades-long trend of a declining population, according to Statistics Canada.

The population figures from the census were released on Wednesday. New Brunswick's population now stands at 751,171 in 2011 up from 729,997 in 2006.

New Brunswick is becoming more of a southern, urban and suburban province, according to the census data.

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/new-brunswick/story/2012/02/08/nb-populati...

Caissa

Horizon Health Network officials say they made a mistake when they bought tickets for an event that turned out to be a fundraiser for the Progressive Conservative Party.

Political financing reports show the health authority gave $3,870 to the PC Party in the first half of 2011.

The money paid for a table at a Saint John event billed as "an evening with Premier David Alward," said Horizon spokesperson Sonya Green-Haché.

Officials didn't realize the money was going to Alward's political party, she said.

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/new-brunswick/story/2012/02/10/nb-horizon-pc-fundraiser.html

ETAQ: The PC party has promised to refund the cost of the tickets.

Caissa

A Riverview woman is raising questions about the provincial government sharing New Brunswickers' personal information with a charitable organization.

The provincial government provides the names and addresses of 550,000 drivers in the province to the War Amps.

Leslie Last said she has no problem with the War Amps' work, but is concerned with how people's personal data is being handled.

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/new-brunswick/story/2012/02/15/nb-war-amps...

KenS

Caissa wrote:

Horizon Health Network officials say they made a mistake when they bought tickets for an event that turned out to be a fundraiser for the Progressive Conservative Party.

I just saw this.

Quite the comedian handling the PR for the Haelth Network. Does he or she also do stand up?

Caissa

The PCs seem to be lurching from blunder to blunder these days. They turned down a million dollars from the hospital foundation to purchase a better MRI at the SJRH.  Dr. Jim Parrot, one of the local  PC MlAs essentially came out and said the Health minister was crazy to reject the offer.

 

ETA: an article on the controversy http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/new-brunswick/story/2012/02/28/nb-mri-3t-a...

webby66

Former Liberal cabinet minister Kelly Lamrock announced his intention to seek the party's leadership on social media and his campaign website on Wednesday.

Lamrock has been rumoured as a potential leadership candidate since former premier Shawn Graham resigned but he had not formally entered the race.

Lamrock said in a statement on his website that he intends to seek the leadership.

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/new-brunswick/story/2012/02/29/nb-lamrock-...

Caissa

That's been an open secret for awhile.  Debater, Actor, standup comedian, lawyer  and former student politician. What more could the NB Libs want? By the next election will the electorate remember he was taken to court as Education Minister over  the consultation process for early French Immersion? He would certainly best Alward in any debate. I think lamrock and cardy are of the same vintage.

Caissa

Several former MLAs have decided to fight last year's reduction to their pensions by filing a complaint with the New Brunswick Human Rights Commission.

The retired or defeated Tories and Liberals say a retroactive clawback to their benefits is unfair.

Last year, the Alward government reversed a 2008 decision that boosted the pensions. As a result, MLAs who left office in 2010 are seeing their pensions reduced, in some cases by a third.

http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/story/2012/03/20/nb-mla-pension-cuts-hum...

Hoodeet

Interesting dilemma:  Is this a bad legal precedent that we should all oppose? Or is it in reality a move we should support (I mean, cutting pensions and salaries)?   IMO (despite my loathing of the whole pension and salary scale for elected officials across the board)  it is a dangerous precedent, even though it would seem fair on the surface that MLAs share the burden of cuts along with seniors, the disabled, the sick, the unemployed, and the working poor, of whom N.B. has far more than any province should have.

 

Caissa

It also has implications for the City  Saint John which is asking the Legislature to pass legislation in the spring session reducing pension benefits for its workers. Add in the Ferguson defamation case and pensions are a hot topic in little old NB these days.

Hoodeet

So you're suggesting that the MLA pensions could be the thin edge of the wedge, a faux-populist/egalitarian gambit to attack other sectors...

Caissa

No, I'm suggesting 1) that it will be interesting to see the ruling in the human rights complaint, 2) the legislature may be reluctant to pass the legislation being requested by Saint John's Common Council, 3) the Ferguson trial while great entertainment is a waste of money on the part of the Pension Board.

Hoodeet

Thank you for the explanation, Robo.  The distinction needs to be made.

Unfortunately, the benefit paid to MLAs is more than just a one-time severance based on availability of funds - at least that's how I understood it to be.  It is an ongoing drain on public resources.  

Another huge problem we face in every province is the fact that assemblies can vote raises to its members and to judges with no possible redress from the public, and with no oversight, to my knowledge.  It's happened that MLAs voted themselves and judges a hefty raise while the wages of hospital workers and teachers were frozen.  There's nothing to stop that from happening again...and again... unless grassroots movements become more organized.

In N.B. we've  proven that mobilizations can work around particular issues (most recently the sale of NB hydro, French immersion, and now fracking).   How difficult might it be to mobilize around the allocation of public funds?

Robo

Hoodeet wrote:

Interesting dilemma:  Is this a bad legal precedent that we should all oppose? Or is it in reality a move we should support (I mean, cutting pensions and salaries)?   IMO (despite my loathing of the whole pension and salary scale for elected officials across the board)  it is a dangerous precedent, even though it would seem fair on the surface that MLAs share the burden of cuts along with seniors, the disabled, the sick, the unemployed, and the working poor, of whom N.B. has far more than any province should have.

 

Caissa wrote:

It also has implications for the City  Saint John which is asking the Legislature to pass legislation in the spring session reducing pension benefits for its workers. ...

This would be more of a concern for me if the payments received by MLAs had any relationship to what Saint John workers (or any other group of workers) receive as pension payments. The Pension Benefits Act deals with what almost all workers in New Brunswick receive as pensions. The worker has an amount deducted from her/his wages which is matched by the employer, and these amounts are invested by professional advisers to maximize returns and ensure the stability of the pension plan in the long run.

MLAs are covered by the Members' Pension Act, in which the amounts paid out to MLAs are based on general revenues of the province (i.e. money that was collected for health care, schools, roads, and all government services) rather than a return on the money jointly invested by the employer and worker. Workers in the City of Saint John, like any worker of which I am aware, would kill for this kind of pension plan.

The people who devised the plan, who will benefit from it directly at some point unless they die in office, use the term "pension" because it carries a meaning that gives it a positive impression. If it were called a "retirement allowance" or "annual allowance" -- a term more accurate than calling the payment a "pension" -- the scrutiny of the payments would be more appropriate.

In other provinces, parents have gone to Court to prevent governments from reducing services -- the last one I recall was Ontario parents opposing the ending of funding for a particular treatment approach for autistic children. Courts have said that governments get to make decisions about which programs to fund and which ones not to fund -- short of finding the decision was motivated on prohibited grounds (like disability, ethnic origin, or the like), the Courts have said that they will not overturn the authority of government to decide which programs to fund. THAT is how MLA pensions should be seen, IMO -- as a government program that competes with other government programs for its continued funding. Just calling it a "pension" should not give it sacrosanct status nor inhibit progressives from criticising the retired MLA annual allowance plan.

Robo

Hoodeet wrote:

In N.B. we've  proven that mobilizations can work around particular issues (most recently the sale of NB hydro, French immersion, and now fracking).   How difficult might it be to mobilize around the allocation of public funds?

I would not dream of "mobilising around the allocation of public funds" -- it is "inside the ballpark" framing of an issue. People who read this message board may get excited about the processes used to allocate government funds to this program over that program. This message board represents 0.01% of the voters in any province, at best.

That comment does not mean that this idea should be ignored. Instead, I would suggest the following approaches to using the idea around other moblisations:
(1) Whenever possible, use phrasing like the "MLAs pensions, which could more accurately be called Retired MLA annual allowances, should be ..." in any sentence mentioning what Conservatives and Liberals call "MLA pensions".
(2) The next time a government representative talks about there not being enough funds for education, health care, child care, enviornmental protection, or any one of dozens of other worthwhile government-funded programs, include in the next question/response to that government representative: "We all understand that government funds are limited, but both the Liberals and Conservatives in the legislature have found the money needed to increase the annual payments made to retired MLAs. Why can the money be found for retired MLAs' allowances while our seniors and kids are being told the cupboard is bare?"

A campaign focused on "the allocation of public funds" will bore the crap out of almost every member of the general public. It's not the kind of thing that can lead a campaign; it is the kind of thing with which you "counterpunch" while fighting another issue with more public appeal.

mtm

Mulcair addresses Provincial NDP Convention in NB:

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/new-brunswick/story/2012/04/14/nb-tom-mulcair-ndp-convention.html

 

According to CBC's Jacques Poitras on Twitter, Dominic Cardy has passed a leadership review with 82% in favour.

mtm

http://www.cbc.ca/informationmorningfredericton/2012/04/16/ndp-convention/

A wide ranging interview with Dominic Cardy after NB Convention this past weekend.

Stockholm

The NB NDP is incredibly lucky to have someone of Cardy's calibre willing to do the thankless job of being leader despite not having a seat and the party having virtually no money to pay a leader's salary.

Caissa

I must admit Cardy is starting to grow on me. The next NB election will be interesting.

Caissa

There are more than 1,000 New Brunswickers putting their names forward to earn a place on municipal councils across the province.

The sheer volume of candidates is creating several interesting trends and the patterns vary from names to incumbency.

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/new-brunswick/story/2012/04/30/nb-election...

Caissa

Former Saint John city councillor John Ferguson embraced friends and family in the lobby of a Saint John courthouse Tuesday night, celebrating a complete victory in his five-year legal battle with the city's pension board.

"I'm pleased with the decision," an emotional Ferguson told reporters.

"Very pleased with the decision."

A seven-person jury deliberated for eight hours following 12 weeks of courtroom testimony and arguments.

The jury concluded Ferguson was well within his rights to criticize management of the city's deficit-plagued pension fund while he was a councillor.

The Saint John Pension Board sued Ferguson for multiple statements he made at five city council meetings and in a newspaper opinion piece over an 18-month period beginning in April of 2005, claiming serious and malicious damage to its reputation.

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/new-brunswick/story/2012/05/01/nb-ferguson...

Caissa

RCMP traffic officers were toting squeegees in Moncton Tuesday as part of an unusual undercover cellphone sting.

Officers were dressed in plainclothes, posing as people who wanted to wash motorists' windshields but really, they wanted to catch people who were driving while talking on the phone, said Codiac Regional RCMP Cpl. Sylvain LeBlanc.

LeBlanc explained the undercover spotter would radio ahead to uniformed officers, who wrote the tickets.

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/new-brunswick/story/2012/05/01/nb-cell-pho...

Hoodeet

Caissa wrote:

RCMP traffic officers were toting squeegees in Moncton Tuesday as part of an unusual undercover cellphone sting.

Officers were dressed in plainclothes, posing as people who wanted to wash motorists' windshields but really, they wanted to catch people who were driving while talking on the phone, said Codiac Regional RCMP Cpl. Sylvain LeBlanc.

LeBlanc explained the undercover spotter would radio ahead to uniformed officers, who wrote the tickets.

">http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/new-brunswick/story/2012/05/01/nb-cell-pho... Hoodeet (JW)

 

Are you sure it wasn't the  crew of  This Hour ...  dressed up as plainclothes cops to tape an episode?

Or perhaps it was a pilot for a new comedy show.  Canadian humour can be so zany.

Caissa

New Brunswick's privacy commissioner says a breach by Elections New Brunswick is potentially the largest ever in the province given the number of people's information involved.

Elections New Brunswick confirmed on Wednesday it accidentally sent a voters list containing phone numbers, dates of birth and driver's licence information to Members of the Legislative Assembly and to the Progressive Conservatives and Liberal parties.

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/new-brunswick/story/2012/05/10/nb-privacy-...

Caissa

The campaigning is over and New Brunswick voters are heading to the polls today to elect new mayors, councillors as well as members for their local education and health councils.

While each of the 105 municipal races and dozens of regional health authority and district education council races are important to the local candidates and communities, there are a handful of races that may draw provincial intrigue.

Some of the province's larger cities have intense battles for mayors or high-profile candidates seeking election or electoral redemption.

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/new-brunswick/story/2012/05/14/nb-7-races-to-watch-600.html

 

 

Election day in NB where most people have some personal connections in the race. For example, the incumbent mayor taught me science when I was in grade 8. His chief opponent is the brother of my oldest son's former principal. I still chair the Parent School Support Committee at that school and the principal is running for council in my parents' ward.

I graduated from high school with one of the perceived front-runneres in the at large elections and we work at the same institution. Many others in the city would have even more connections to the candidates.

 

Ms. C. and I are going to vote after work and watch the results roll in after the polls close at 8.

Stockholm

Are there any candidates running municipallly that have NDP/progressive ties that we should be rooting for?

Caissa

None in SJ that I am aware of. One of the incumbents has been approached by the NDP in the past. He has done a lot of progressive things in his neighbourhood, yet is a former SA officer. I'm not quite sure where he stands on social issues.

felixr

In Sackville: Bill Evans and Virgil Hammock

Caissa

Is Virgil an incumbent? I new them both when I worked at Mount A around the turn of the century.

felixr

Caissa wrote:

Is Virgil an incumbent? I new them both when I worked at Mount A around the turn of the century.

Virgil is an incumbent.

felixr

Bill Evans won election with the 2nd most votes for council (Virgil was defeated). Progressive Leah Levac was elected in Ward 10 in Fredericton. Donnie Snook, a councillor who considered running for the NB NDP in 2010, easily defeated a field of 6 other candidates to win election in Ward 3 in Saint John.

Caissa

I see Ron Aiken was successful in his bid to return to council. How has Virgil's health been lately?

Donnie Snook is incredibly popular in his ward.

Caissa

New Brunswick voters shook up the province's political landscape on Monday night, electing many new faces to council positions and turning to new mayors.

Almost every council across the province will have some new faces around the table when the next session is called to order in the next month.

There are some candidates who were elected in the first election where they could actually vote. And some fresh faces will have leadership positions in some of the province's largest municipalities.

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/new-brunswick/story/2012/05/15/nb-5-new-fa...

felixr

Some info on Leah Levac.

Donnie Snook's ward encompassing much of the Saint John-Harbour provincial seat that the NB NDP held for over a decade with party leader Elizabeth Weir.

Caissa

That riding is now held by Carl Killen, a Tory. 

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