Tagged: Rodney MacDonald

Those permanent socialist hordes

Citing the latest of several Corporate Research Associates polls showing Darrell Dexter’s New Democrats with a comfortable lead, longtime Progressive Conservative Rob Smith has a piece in today’s AllNovaScotia.com [subscription required] proposing some form of Liberal-Tory co-operation to prevent what the news service alarmingly headlines, “Socialists forever.”

Beware of blue Bolsheviks!

This argument would be more persuasive if the Dexter Government had shown any sign of being either permanent or socialist. Dexter won office less than three years ago,  and he did so by turning quietly away from the strident leftist approach of previous NDP leaders, and toward centrist policies where Nova Scotia voters have traditionally found their comfort zone. The phrase, “for today’s families,” doesn’t exactly call to mind Rosa Luxemburg.

The NDP’s historic breakthrough reflects two longterm political trends.

  • As Western Canada and — to a lesser extent — Ontario turned sharply right over the last 20 years, Nova Scotia remained true to what might be called Red Tory values: We remain economically moderate and socially liberal. The widening gulf makes us look uncharacteristically leftish by comparison, but it’s the Uppity Canadian leopards who’ve changed their stripes, not us.
  • Over the same period, party divisions within Nova Scotia have coalesced into three clear zones: Liberal Cape Breton; Tory rural mainland; and NDP Metro. Dexter won the last election on the strength of inroads not in Cape Breton, where he picked up no additional seats, but in the rural mainland, where loyal Tories winced at the Rodney Interregnum.

If Dexter were recklessly pursuing ideology over the province’s best interests, an opposition coalition might be in order. I believe the Harper government’s US Republican-style extremism should cause Liberals, New Democrats, and disaffected Stanfield Progressive Conservatives to explore avenues of co-operation.

But to argue that anything Dexter has done is so far outside the mainstream, or so redolent of permanent hegemony, as to inspire a Tory-Liberal Union is, forgive me Rob, just silly.

That NDP news conference – ctd.

Martin MacKinnon writes:

I am appalled by these NDP apologists — I do hope they’re getting paid — on the  $42,000* press release. Regardless if some of the $42K should not have been included, it did include funding for things like buses and “marketing consultants.” If this was a Rodney MacDonald Tory event, I am sure these people would have also pointed out that the $42K was overstated. These NDP’er’s are double hypocrites. One because they are governing like Tories (John Buchanan should be proud) and because they told their party members they would govern differently. Shame on them.

*The $42,000 is overstated, a concoction of the Chronicle-Herald that mixes $11,000 in announcement expenses with $31,000 in expenses related to producing an electricity plan, and pretends they are all news conference costs. The Herald repeats this misrepresentation for a third time in today’s edition, along with the false claim that Dan O’Connor twice denied posting a comment to the Herald’s website.

This double misrepresentation of the story, repeated three days running despite clear contrary evidence, is a blatant display of dishonesty. Apparently, the Herald prefers to misinform its readers and defame others rather than acknowledge its error.

And speaking of begrudgery – updated

In response to this, someone called Peter Watts or perhaps Paul Buher, writes from a cryptic email account:

You, sir, are a pig, and no different than Darrell Dexter.

You hide under the guise of a political blog during the day, only to be writing for the NDP at night. A $15,000 pay cheque isn’t too bad I suppose. Good for you.

I have news for you. Anything you write on that virulent blog from this day forward is tainted with the stink of NDP orange, corruption, and self-serving interest. As I said, you sir, are a pig.

I wonder how Mr. Whateverhisrealnameis would feel to learn that Rodney MacDonald’s Tories hired me to write that government’s energy strategy.

Andrew Terris chimes in:

15K for 26 pages of text with lots of white space?


On the other hand, an erstwhile Daily News colleague writes:

That was a breathtakingly shoddy piece in the Herald this morning. Seems like Dan et al have made up their minds about the Dexter government.

I’ll leave it to others to decide whether the Herald’s shoddiness was breathtaking in this case, but I do think Judy Myrden’s story falls into a category of invidious reporting sensible people can see through without knowing much about the topic. She calls it a $42,000 press conference, but cites only $11,000 in costs (including transportation, catering, audio-visual, and event-management) related to the event.

The other $31,000 was part of the process of producing the plan, an effort that included several government departments, and discussions with interested companies, organizations, and individuals. Myrden falsely conflated production costs with news conference costs to make the latter appear four times larger than they were.

The sad thing about this is that if Myrden, or any other Herald reporter, would bother to read the energy plan, they would find it choc-a-block full of issues vital to Nova Scotia’s future—questions that could use robust discussion, debate, criticism, and even, dare I say it, investigation. Alas, that would take time, effort, imagination, and intelligence. Unlike finger-wagging.

Perhaps all provincial announcements should take place in Halifax, the centre of the known universe. Perhaps government should aways communicate with one hand tied behind its back, issuing reports written in bureaucratese and printed in gray ink on newsprint, Enver Hoxha-style.

[Update:] Stan Jones writes:

Sorry, Parker, but when you are sucking $15,000 from the same tit as the MLAs I really don’t think your opinion is going to sway me.

Perhaps Mr. Jones, who bills himself as a consultant specializing in social, health and educational research, is too pure to take government money. I’m not. About a quarter of my consulting work is with government. I relish these assignments because they give me a chance to work on the most important and difficult public issues facing our society, and to interact with thoughtful, energetic, well-motivated people.

The cynical assumption at play here is that doing government work automatically makes one corrupt. If that’s true, then it stands to reason that the most important and difficult decisions of our time will be worked on only by corrupt people, while all the good people (like Jones, Terris, and Watt) stand on the sidelines. Enjoy your purity, folks. Some of us want to tackle these issues.

Less pure readers can check out the Energy Plan here. They tell me it’s a pretty good read.

Are promises for fools?

Contrarian reader Colin May writes :

Do you know anyone who believed the three promises made by DD and his colleagues ? Did you believe they would be able to keep the ERs open ?  Everyone in the health business knew it was BS.

Voters just wanted rid of Rodney, they cared less about reality. The less said about the media the better.

Looks like Premier McNeil in four years, about the only bright light in the Canadian Liberal firmament.

Stan Jones adds:

While I tend to agree with the recommendations in the report, I wonder if it isn’t true that Dexter and Steele knew pretty much what the report would say the day they appointed the experts.

The views of all four of them are surely well-known (and if Dexter and Steele didn’t know them, why did they appoint them?) and nothing in the report surprises me, given what each has said in the past.

What the panel report confirms about the NDP campaign

Contrarian is working his way through the Economic Review Panel’s 95-page report. At first blush, it seems a sensible document, offering a balanced approach to navigating the economic mess the MacDonald government left us in.

Premier Darrell Dexter choose wisely in selecting Donald Savoie, Elizabeth Beale, Tim O’Neil, and Lars Osberg to carry out the review. All are respected, progressive, and fair-minded.

But before we get too deep into discussing the pros and cons of their recommendations, something needs to be said:

Dexter - finger - adjusted-sDarrell Dexter campaigned on a triple-barreled promise: not to run a deficit; not to raise taxes; and not to cut programs. The report makes clear he will have to do all three. There is no surprise in this. Dexter made a conscious decision to promise voters what they wanted to hear, even though he knew he could not deliver as advertised. (It might be added that many voters made a conscious decision to believe him, or at least to suspend their disbelief.)

That’s water under the bridge, but it warrants notice. The premier and his party indulged in dishonest politics, and the inevitable harvest is increased public cynicism and reduced public faith.

We are not naive about politics. We understand that winning is the point of the exercise. But when politicians of Dexter’s caliber dissemble so brazenly, they cannot feign surprise or disappointment at voter mistrust.

Nova Scotians who don’t want to wade through the panel’s full report can find a useful 12-page summary here.

Rodney’s chops

A stalwart Tory friend who fully expected Ian McNeil to beat Allan MacMaster in the Inverness byelection voiced surprise at MacMaster’s decision to go door-to-door with former Premier Rodney MacDonald, who held the seat before quitting last month:

I would have expected voters in Inverness to have an earful for Rodney after he quit so soon.

There was certainly some of that. MacMaster received 2,247 fewer votes than MacDonald had just four months earlier. But I suspect Rodney was still a plus for MacMaster at the doorstep—probably a crucial factor in his sliver of victory.

In the eyes of most Nova Scotia voters, Rodney never grew into the premiership; he lacked the royal jelly. But voters in Inverness see it differently. They believe their favorite son was done in by a bunch of toffee noses in Halifax, especially in the legislature press gallery, who made little effort to disguise their contempt for Rodney or their conviction that a rube from Inverness has no business running the province.

Party president Ian MacKeigan expressed this view with vehemence on election night in June.  Contrarian happens to know MacKeigan, a popular Whycocomagh pharmacist and an exceptionally fine gentleman. If he feels this way, you can take it to the credit union that many Invernessers do too.

The poll-by-poll results show that former CBC Cape-Breton radio host McNeil also suffered from being less well known in the southern end of the riding, which the CBC chooses to serve with Halifax programming.New Democrat Bert Lewis killed McNeil in the Port Hawkesbury area.

Poll-bypoll results in Antigonish show that the byelection there was tightly contested across the riding, although the final result was not as close

Robo Ian or Principal Bert?

Today’s Antigonish by-election is a foregone conclusion. N-dip Moe Smith came within 275 votes of knocking off popular Tando MacIsaac in June’s general election. Tando having abandoned the seat so abruptly, and the NDP firmly ensconced in Province House, Smith will take the riding in a walk.Allan-MacMaster-c

Inverness is a different matter. The riding is festooned with election signs in roughly equal numbers. Although then-Premier Rodney MacDonald out-polled his nearest rival by 3,431  votes in June, would-be Tory successor Allan MacMaster is widely expected to place third today. The premier’s abandonment of the riding, like Tando’s of neighboring Antigonish, will hurt MacMaster, as will the traditional Liberal stronghold’s penchant for snuggling up to the government side of the House.

ianmcneil-cLiberal Ian McNeil, a former CBC Radio host (and—disclosure—a friend of Contrarian’s),  was widely regarded as the man to beat at the outset of the campaign. While hosting CBC-Cape Breton’s Information Morning program, McNeil endured a grueling three-hour daily commute to maintain his East Lake Ainslie home in the riding. A man with strong rural sensibilities, McNeil created the CBC’s Party Line feature, and he has hosted musical events and community forums in every fire hall and church basement in the county.

Bert_LewisCBC-Cape Breton’s signal does not reach the southern end of the constituency, however. So McNeil is not as well known in riding’s largest population center, the town of Port Hawkesbury, where NDP candidate Bert Lewis is recently retired as principal of the Nova Scotia Community College campus. You have to wonder whether the 11th-hour NSCC strike settlement, details of which are conveniently unavailable, will help Lewis.

A much weaker NDP candidate placed second in June, a first for the party, albeit with only 20.5 percent of the vote. But it’s a government-prone riding, and this time, voters know which party is in government.

If McNeil loses, I suspect it will be because of a misstep. More than the other two candidates, he has blanketed the riding with robo-calls, and these aren’t sitting well with voters I’ve heard from.

Sauce for the gander?


Contrarian reader Scooter Bob complains that the media is ignoring NDP ads that are just as negative as the Tories’:

The NDP are distributing a two-page flyer. On one side is a less-than-flattering picture of Rodney MacDonald and a list of five alleged missteps — ERs closing & longer wait times; wasting money on expensive vehicles for ministers; putting HST on electricity; and putting the province in more debt. Isn’t this exactly the same negative, US-style electioneering the NDP are complaining about? Why doesn’t the media report on this?

Perhaps because the ads go a step further by implying illegality by the N-dips.

UPDATE: Stephen McNeil makes the same point as Bob.

Leaders agree: Punishment first, trial later—if ever


The Queen had only one way of settling all difficulties, great or small: “Off with his head!” she said, without even looking round. –– Lewis Carroll, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.

At last night’s debate, all three party leaders offered ringing endorsements of the Queen’s punish-first, trial-later approach to law enforcement. All three tossed the presumption of innocence on the scrap heap in response to a question from Ian McNeil of East Lake Ainslie:

How comfortable are you with a Safer Communities and Neighborhoods Act, which allows people to be evicted from their homes without being charged, or convicted of a criminal offence, or having an opportunity to face their peers?

Darrell Dexter, who purports to be a New Democrat, led the charge:

Well there are always concerns, civil liberties concerns, around whether of not people are able to get a fair hearing with respect to these kinds of matters. But what the Safer Neighborhoods and Communities Act [sic] actually does, there is an evidentiary base for decisions that are made, and there are investigations that take place, and they are designed to protect neighborhoods from disruptive activity.

It is a tool that is in the toolbox of the authorities and I have darrellfaith not only in the authorities but in the courts of this province that they administer that law appropriately, and they will protect the civil liberties of the people of this province.

Overriding all of this, of course, are the rights under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms that is the overall safeguard for those mechanisms that  exist in the Safer Communities and Neighborhoods Act [sic].

You have to wonder, is this guy inspired by the likes of Tommy Douglas and Stanley Knowles, or by Stephen Harper and Stockwell Day? The premier, too, stood squarely in the Harper-Day, law-and-order camp. Read more »

Live-blogging the debate — feedback

Reader Lucas Byers comments on contrarian‘s annoyance at Premier Rodney MacDonald’s use of first names to address voters, regardless of age:

You’d like me as your call center rep. I worked in three different ones over six years, and only ever called my caller Sir, Ma’am, Mr Lastname, Ms Lastname, unless directed not to by the caller.

Sad that years of Conservative rule has only provided me with six years of call center [experience];  even sadder we’re about to elect the Orange Menace to a majority. Maybe I’ll be able to get a union job at McDonalds. I guess Nova Scotian voters are Masochists.

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