07 Jun Leadership
What’s disquieting about our New Democratic Party government-in-waiting is the same thing that’s been disturbing about Nova Scotia for decades: a lack of compelling leadership.
It’s not simply that our once-upon-a-time socialists have moved to the dead center of the road. Contrarian is OK with that. It’s Darrell Dexter’s meticulous avoidance of anything that might challenge voters in any way.
The NDP knew that to get elected, they would have to win seats in rural Nova Scotia. They took polls and conducted focus groups, and discovered that rural Nova Scotians are upset about emergency room closures. So the NDP promised to end those closures, even though every thoughtful observer knows that doing so would be a wasteful diversion of scarce health care dollars. Among other things, it will make recruitment of physicians to rural areas more difficult, not easier. Why would a fully trained physician want to sit in an emergency room all night to treat one or two patients?
Dexter and his caucus know this. But forced to choose between a money-wasting, crowd pleasing policy that would win votes, and a sensible policy that would require explanation, persuasion, and leadership, they chose the crowd-pleasing route.
The NDP knew that to get elected, they would need the support of the middle class. They took polls and conducted focus groups, and discovered that the middle class is irritated by rising power bills. So the NDP promised to take the provincial share of HST off home electricity bills.
The NDP know this $28-million carbon subsidy will make consumption of dirty, coal-fired electricity more attractive. They know it flies in the face of efforts to curb climate change, a problem the party sanctimoniously but emptily describes as “the gravest threat to our environment.” But forced to choose between another money-wasting, crowd pleasing policy that would win votes, and a sensible policy that would require explanation, persuasion, and leadership, they chose the stupid, crowd-pleasing route.
It’s so disheartening.
So let’s all doff our caps to one politician with the courage and integrity to speak an unpalatable truth. Chris Milburn is the Green Party candidate in Cape Breton North, where frequent weekend and over-night closures of the Northside General Emergency Department is a hot issue. Milburn is a physician who has logged time in small emergency rooms.
This week, he had the courage to puncture his would-be constituents’ fantasy that keeping their emergency room open 24/7 is a good idea. He explained why, clearly and articulately. In other words, he showed leadership.
Why can’t we expect as much from Premier-in-Waiting Darrel Dexter?
The NDP will form the government on Tuesday, probably by a healthy majority. In many ridings, especially in seats they already hold, they don’t need your help, but they could use a helpful message. You may want to consider sending that message by voting for your local Green Party candidate. The Greens are far from perfect. They need to re-examine their faith-based support of feed-in tariffs, and many other nanny-state policies. But they have consistently raised important issues in a thoughtful honest way during this campaign, a claim other parties cannot can make..
UPDATE: Green Party candidate David Croft wonders whether I intend the phrase “nanny state” as a synonym for “welfare state.” Not at all. I was thinking the impulse to have government micromanage that should be left to citizens, for example, proposals to ban plastic bottles.