Category Archives: Politics

Time for Southern New Brunswick to build one central airport #nbpoli

Posted on January 7, 2011 by

WestJet just announced it is cancelling its summer service to Saint John, NB because it was not profitable. This should be a wake up call to everyone that the time has come for one large, centralized international airport for the province, and I suggest Sussex.

It will be a hard sell. There are too many egos involved and not enough cooperation, particularly within the municipalities, but it is a necessary step. Our entire province barely qualifies as a mid-sized metropolitan city elsewhere. We don’t need an airport in every hamlet. Southern NB only has about 500,000 people between the 3 major cities and surrounding areas, yet we have three competing airports??? That’s absurd.

Sussex is accessible from all three major Southern NB metro area in less than an hour, which is more than reasonable for access to a decent-sized airport with international travel capabilities. Most of us already drive to Halifax or Bangor to take advantage of cheap flights because the Saint John airport is less than useful in many cases. Why would a 45 minute jaunt to Sussex bother us?

Take a look at the outlying areas of Toronto. Most of them are larger than the entire Southern NB area, but they don’t each have their own airports. They travel, sometimes several hours, to Pearson Airport in Toronto without question.

Building one large airport in the Sussex area would build business opportunities in the Sussex area, as well as foster spin-off enterprises such as shuttle and parking services elsewhere, not to mention the added incentive of larger companies having better access to the area. New Brunswick must begin to acknowledge we are a very small fish in a very big pond, and to survive we must streamline how we do business and change the way we think or we will die off fast in the modern, global economy.


Mandatory census change will hurt survey #nbpoli #canpoli

Posted on December 30, 2010 by – Census change will hurt survey | New Brunswick, Canada.

“The information collected by this form is playing a critical role in mobilizing citizens and organizations to tackle issues in their local communities – bringing philanthropic, voluntary and corporate resources to the table to address some of our communities’ most pressing problems,” the letter said.
Mr. Harper’s Conservatives have ideas that seem to pander to their core supporters they would like to implement. Unfortunately, these ideas are based on ideology that is not backed up by statistics (i.e. increase in prisons while overall crime rate is actually dropping). By removing the mandatory census, it allows them to cast doubt on the statistics they already don’t (can’t?) read…

Why we truly need electoral reform #nbvotes

Posted on September 28, 2010 by

There are 55 seats in the New Brunswick Legislature. Currently these seats are determined by a first-past-the-post system in 55 ridings, rather than a more fair and inclusive system.

The results of the provincial election last night were a perfect example of the skewing that occurs in this medieval system.

Here’s the results:

49% of the province voted PC, yet they received 76% of the seats (42). 49% should represent the wishes of 49% of the population, or 27 seats.

35% of the province voted Liberal, yet they received only 24% of the seats (13). 35% should represent the wishes of 35% of the population, or 19 seats.

10% of the province voted NDP, yet they received 0 seats and no voice. 10% should represent 5 or 6 seats, not 0.

4.6% voted Green, yet they received 0 seats and no voice. 4.6% should represent 2 or 3 seats, not 0.

Another ~1.5% voted ‘Other’ and received no voice. 1.5% represents .85% of a seat.This one is a 0 seat and  probably should stay that way, but there are 8 seats out of 55 missing from above.

I understand that “this is the way it has always been done” is a great excuse for not changing. It has been used by Luddites for many years. But that doesn’t make it right.

The environmentally minded, the poor, the sick, the unionized, and many other groups are basically ignored or paid lip service by the major parties because they have no true representation. While I agree that these smaller parties are unlikely to form a government and run the province on a daily basis any time soon (although the NDP is doing a decent job in Nova Scotia and Manitoba right now and have run Ontario and other Western provinces before), they represent the interests of many people who took the time to vote and who have basically been shut out by an archaic system. These groups have great ideas and policies that should at least be at the table for discussion.

Yes, there are flaws in a proportional system as well, but you can’t tell me that a province with a population that barely qualifies as a large municipality in many parts of this country can’t come up with a way of using regional, proportional representation to ensure everyone’s vote counts.

Those who argue that a majority is the only way to get anything done forget Universal Health Care and Medicare, Unemployment Insurance, Worker’s Compensation, Children’s Allowance, and most of the other things that make Canada the great place it is today. These were all mainly done by minority governments who were forced by virtue of that minority to work together in a civilized manner. That type of civility and diplomacy is what is missing in our current adversarial style of government in Fredericton and particularly in Ottawa.

My solution? When I am Benevolent Dictator of Canada, I will tear up all the Legislatures (and Parliament for that matter), and replace them with a horseshoe or circle formation designed for discussion instead of insult-tossing, to create an atmosphere where respect and civility rule, whoever is speaking is the only one with the floor, hecklers are evicted for being morons, and everyone has at least a chance to be represented by way of some form of proportional representation.

How do we achieve this proportional system? We might even use a mixed system that resembles the ward and at-large system in use in Saint John. Even better, for inspiration, take a look at Nunavut. They basically banned political parties in their legislature and run as a consensus government. What a great idea!

In any case, our system is not fair, nor is it inclusive. There is always room for improvement. While this particular election saw an increase in voter turnout *(see note below), the trend is dropping as more people feel their votes don’t count.

NOTE: It turns out this statement was not accurate. The voter turnout was a higher % of the voters list, but the voter’s list had fewer people on it than last time and less people actually voted. In the last election, there were 377,247 ballots cast, which represented 67.5% of eligible voters, while in this election,there were 372,502 ballots cast, which represented 71.5% of the eligible voters.  Two possible reasons – inaccurate voter’s lists or population decrease. In any case, the actual number of votes cast is the lowest in New Brunswick since 1978.


Promises, promises… #nbvotes

Posted on September 22, 2010 by

I was a bit fuzzy on the poll numbers (they added up to about 124% at first count…) until I read that the figures for the parties were percentage of decided voters. Right now, depending on which poll you follow and the day, NB Progressive Conservatives (yes, we do still have a few with a little ‘Progressive’ left in them here in our provincial politics…) have between 42% and 48%, NB Liberals have between 36% and 38%, NB NDP has 9% or 10%, NB Green Party has 5%, and the People’s Alliance of NB Party sits at about 0% or 1% of the 60% of the population who are decided.

Of course, this means there are still 40% of the entire population who are undecided… (I am one of that 40%), which means anything could happen on election day once people are in the ballot box.

Some pollsters think many of the undecided are those who might normally vote Liberal but are unhappy with the way the Liberals have governed for the past four (4) years or just unhappy with Premier Shawn Graham. This leads to the other possibility – an all-time low voter turnout. Most “normal” (i.e. not party-affiliated) people I have heard talking are simply not happy with the choices they have been given, and Elections Canada and the provinces don’t have the backbone to put "None of the Above" on the ballots, probably because they are afraid it would win in many ridings, particularly in this election… 😉

Personally, I hope we get a minority with a couple of NDP seats and maybe a Green holding the balance of power. Unlike “Dear Leader” PM Harper in Ottawa, I like minorities, mainly for accountability and to keep government honest. Democracy is a messy business, but worth every bit of the mess. Unfortunately, the NB electorate remains pretty old school and most of the undecided people will keep voting for the two "usual suspects". This despite the fact both of them are promising the world in an effort to "spend our way back to fiscal health".

Neither of them will have any money to keep their promises if they get in, but I guess they figure they can worry about that if they win. The NDP, usually the unrealistic younger sibling, this time are actually the fiscally prudent ones, which is a nice change for them. Brings hope in me for their future, since they represent the needs of a significant portion of society that is mainly ignored or only paid lip service by the other parties.

I was talking with a friend yesterday and my analogy of the two main parties was this:

The endless promises to the public in this election are like them walking into low-rent housing and promising everyone who lives there that they will be approved for credit to buy a 60" TV. They aren’t ensuring the people can pay for it, just promising that they get the credit. The fallout for the purchases won’t be felt until after the election is over, when they can crank up the spin and blame someone else for the mess.