09 December 2010

NB Tories and NL politics

Corporate Research Associates president Don Mills thinks that the Conservatives should break whatever promises and do whatever else it takes to get the province’s financial mess under control.

He thinks they can get away with it since it is early in their mandate.
“They shouldn't worry about their performance numbers or their voter support in the first year and a half of their mandate," Mills said.
"They should just make the decisions that need to be made, apologize for it, say it wasn't their fault, and just get it done.
"Two or three years later when things are looking much brighter they can take credit for taking tough action when it was needed to be taken.”
That’s interesting advice if for no other reason than it is exactly the opposite of what Mills’ favourite client did when ostensibly faced with the same situation.

Danny Williams never ever stopped worrying about his performance numbers of voter support.  When the numbers fell after Williams’ first six months in office, he abandoned the whole plan announced in the spring of 2004 to get the province’s finances under control.

And he never apologised for anything.

That’s not the only difference between the two provinces and CRA.  In New Brunswick, CRA’s latest news release on their quarterly poll included figures from the recent New Brunswick election.  Let’s just say that CRA’s polling is actually close to the election result.  In 2007,  Mills missed the provincial election here by a country mile.

As you scan the chart, get a load of the party support numbers on which Mills is offering his advice.  Conservative support is at 42% of respondents. 31% of respondent’s were undecided.  The Liberals and the New Democrats together didn’t add up to the UND number but that doesn’t matter.  If you look at CRA’s numbers over time in New Brunswick and you can see that it doesn’t take much to piss people off and keep them pissed off.

Ask Shawn Graham.

Just to be sure, look at CRA’s satisfaction numbers.  The New Brunswick  Conservatives are exactly where Shawn Grahams’ Liberals were before the election.  The only difference is that 33% of the population think it’s too soon to judge the Conservatives’ performance.

With Graham, they were somewhat dissatisfied.  CRA seems to misreport the question they asked on that one, incidentally.  Might be that the 33% of respondents who aren’t ready to give the Conservatives either a thumbs up or thumbs down just yet are the same crew who turned away from Graham over ideas like selling the provincial power company to Hydro-Quebec.

That could make things interesting if the Conservatives took Mills’ advice.

For a second, let’s just suppose they took Mills’ advice and voters didn’t plan a neck-tie party for the provincial government.  Frankly, if they got things under control, voters would be more likely to reward them even if it meant nice cheap electricity came from Quebec.  Mills’ advice is reasonable enough even if it isn’t based for a fraction of a second on his polling.

Nice for the New Brunswick Conservatives.

Not so nice for their cousins across the water in the former Republic of Dannystan. If nothing else, Danny Williams helped stir up anti-Quebec sentiment among the New Brunswick anglophone Conservative voters because he needed to keep open the appearance of an option of selling his very expensive Lower Churchill power to them. When Williams said on October 29, 2009 that he feared being stranded, what he apparently meant was that the last potential markets for his super-expensive juice would be gone.

It worked.

Just remember though that Danny Williams was shit-baked, to use an accurate term for it, over the prospect that not only New Brunswick but Emera would fall under the spell of the hydro seductress with the French accent.

Things appear to have changed in the year since Williams voiced his fears.  There’s a new deal on the table and with it comes the possibility of shipping that expensive Muskrat Falls power to New Brunswickers.

But if the New Brunswick government decided to listen to Don Mills?  Well, let’s just say if they did consider a new deal to offload New Brunswick Power to Hydro-Quebec, regional politics in 2011 could get even more interesting than they are shaping up to be already.

- srbp -