New Brunswickers deserve a leader like Obama

The Obama phenomenon is mesmerizing to me. Few are left indifferent.

That “vision thing,” that George W. Bush admitted to be out of his intellectual reach, is the fuel that makes Obama soar into spatial territory. The millions of believers, who have contributed almost $650 million to his campaign, love to watch his verbal poetry and hope that leadership will take their country to a better, sweeter place.

For a short time, we can all believe that one person can make a huge difference. But the world is headed for a rough economic landing with little money left in the pot for policy changes. Lax regulatory philosophy let the dogs out and the damage may take several years to repair.

While the billion-dollar campaign to win the U.S. Presidency may seem expensive, it is peanuts compared to the cost of bad judgement by an incompetent leader. By the way, the salary of the President is a measly $400,000 a year, plus some excellent perks.

Here in New Brunswick, the Progressive Conservatives chose a new leader recently. Did they choose the right one?

David Alward was first elected to the legislature in 1999 and served as minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Aquaculture from 2003 until the defeat of the Lord government.

During the campaign, he indicated that the party would provide the platform. Very democratic, but definitely lacking in “the vision thing.” He did indicate that he “wants to build bridges between the north and the south, between urban and rural, between anglophone and francophone… to build prosperity and opportunity… to listen to the people.” One supporter calls him “honest, a man of the people.” Time will tell whether he suffers the fate of the latest honest politician who failed to inspire and communicate well – Stéphane Dion.

David Alward is positioning himself as the anti-Graham or the Goliath slayer. Shawn Graham’s first two years have left fertile ground for opposition forces to prosper. So we’ll give David Alward the benefit of the doubt and hope that his leadership skills will give rise to a valid alternative to today’s Liberal government.

In cynical moments, I consider the alternating Liberal and Conservative governments in New Brunswick as the political equivalent of the film “Dumb and Dumber.”  Replacing one with the other still leads to the same conclusion.  Are New Brunswicker’s settling for less than we deserve?

The NDP has not yet recovered from the loss of Elizabeth Weir’s seat in the legislature.  A recent convention elected Roger Duguay as the new leader and he has a significant task of rebuilding for the next election. Roger is a former Catholic priest who was forced to make a choice between religion and politics when his interest in improving the worldly lot of his parishioners became important to him.

New on the scene and still flying below the radar is the Green Party of New Brunswick. The Greens are now organizing to be ready for the next provincial election in 2010. The party should prove popular with those who expect their politicians to “walk the talk,” and want to see the environment on an equal footing with economic development.

I recently spoke with two of the organizers of the upcoming founding convention in Moncton on Nov. 15. Mike Milligan, who was a federal candidate in the Beausejour riding and presently interim leader, and Marco Morency, see the convention as a beginning of policy development and grass roots organization.

The Green Party looks at policy development through a number of filters. Does it advance the common good? How about the needs of children? Does it make New Brunswick families more secure and maintain quality of life? Is there a conflict with the ecosystems of the planet?

Further information on the upcoming convention can be obtained by e-mailing

What impact could this new party have in 2010? After seeing the vote split on the federal scene, will this new party help the PCs or the Liberals? At the moment, we have Liberals at the right of the political spectrum at the same place as the Conservatives. Will the Tories make a left turn under David Alward?

The Green Party brands itself as fiscally responsible (right wing) but more aggressive on the environmental front.

Are New Brunswickers interested in a significant change in politics? Will David Alward, new leader Roger Duguay of the NDP or the new Green leader turn out be an Obama-like inspirational leader?

Let us hope so.