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Vive New Brunswick

New Brunswick, Canada: By and for New Brunswickers, everyone else take off eh!

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Power Structures

This blog is to reply to the comment asking about the relationship between Irving and the Lord government. These are obviously my views, though I try to back them up and not let emotion take over the argument. As Charles mentioned, there is the concrete manifestation of government-industry collusion. This is where an employee of the Irving, or in fact any large corporation, is hired and works for the government. The opposite also occurs, in fact occurs more often than the former. For many this is their 'reward' for towing company lines while in office, a position that can often result in a short career due to the public's views on the person in question. Sometimes, such as in the case of Frank McKenna, the person will return to their own private practise, if they are a lawyer or a consultant, and here they typically will find many sympathetic clients.

For a corporation this is just smart thinking. If people entering the political game discover that there are no rewards for taking the stand for industry then they might actually, heaven forbid, make a stand for their people. Typically most corporations have little use for these politicians but know that they can tow party lines, so they can tow corporate lines. So they are usually rewarded with chairs on the Board of Directors of various companies in the corporate empire. Most of these jobs are token, but pay quite well so that the politician can live out their days quietly, caring for their loved ones in an equitable manner. Sometimes it is also possible, again in the case of somebody like McKenna, that the person can be taken from their private life and put back in the public life to serve another political function. This is also essentially Paul Martin's story, as a loyal subject of the Power Corporation he was hand picked to lead, joining other Power Corporation luminaries such as Pierre Trudeau, John Turner, Jean Chretien and Brian Mulroney.

In theory I do have some sympathy for those who must lead a party, since international trade agreements, federal policies, corporate interests, and voter's sympathies must be constantly juggled. Jim Irving once proclaimed that his father never lost an election, although many point to Louis Robichaud as a politician who certainly didn't 'tow the line'. Hatfield, likewise, took a gamble on the Bricklin as a product that could extricate the province from the worst of all economies-the oligarchy. It was primarily on the back of the auto pact that Ontario built it's modern economy, at least in southern ontario, and it's at least possible that Hatfield was hoping for such an occurence here.

There is no doubt that should they wish, the Irvings simply walk into the Premiers office and tell him how something is done. In fact, we've seen evidence that this is how they operate at the federal level as well. When you own as much as Irving, or McCain, there is no way that the province can compete. In New Brunswick it is even more crucial, since the Irving's own all the newspapers, which means that even if you make one decision that is unfavourable to the Irvings, it will become frontpage news, and continue to be so until your previous voters are eyeing you with suspicion. This, however, is always the balancing act. Corporations don't like boat rockers, and they don't like change. So a governing party has to essentially 'tow the line' while trying to find underhanded ways of accomplishing their tasks.

When a party does what is expected, it's 'reviews' in the paper will be glowing. We see phrases like 'good governance' and the like. Typically, an opposition leader will have to wait their turn until voters toss out the current incumbent, yet with our voting system the races are usually close. This means that it's even more important to get that good press. This is, of course, why during election campaigns and at other times it is almost impossible to get a clear answer from a politician. Everything must be tested and sent to 'focus groups' since there's no point sticking your neck on the line if voters aren't even going to appreciate it.

Of course, nothing is static in politics or life, sometimes a Robichaud comes along and really shakes things up. Those politicians usually come at a certain time, when certain things need to be done, we have to remember that Robichaud was no saviour to the english in urban areas, far from it. Equality for all means that those current rich have to give something up, which is never a blessing to them.


At 8:33 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You are saying some politicians do have backbone such as Louis Robichaud and to certain extent Richard Hatfield. Then you have Bernard Lord who has shown no backbone at all:
He gave in to insurance companies
He was very generous to Molson, jeopardizing Moosehead’s ability to survive, so that he can win next election in Moncton.
Now he gave in to Irving on tax break.
On top of that he as a leader is totally incompetent. Government and government departments are in a chaos. If you have written to any Minister or government officials then you have some idea. Ministers are contradicting each other as Finance Minister and Energy Minister did on Point Lepreau refurbishment. Anyone who is student of politics and observes political happenings will tell you that Lord government is the most incompetent in recent memory indifferent to any political party.

Only people that Lord government has come hard on are seniors, poor single-mothers or others who cannot fight back.

Here is something baffling about health reform. Those effected and especially rural folks have roundly rejected health care reform. Yet Irving media continues to cheer on Lord government on that. Any idea why?

At 7:27 PM, Blogger Charles LeBlanc said...

Very good blog! Maybe I should take your talent and go over my god damn grammar before posting!!!!

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