Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Dec. 3: Fascinating news story on p. A9....

Remember the story of how someone, presumably employed at Moncton City Hall, leaked the story that council has been paying Robert Irving to keep his hockey team in Moncton rather than take it to some big market metropolis like, say, Sussex or Berry Mills?

Now, I don't offhand know of a law which makes it illegal to pass on information about public business to the public who vote for the council and are, therefore, entitled to know what it is doing. But the mayor threatened to call for a police investigation. And he's done it.

It seems he has decided that the person who leaked the information was in violation of public trust. But, gee whiz, Mr. Mayor, if council refuses to tell us when it is handing out our money to rich people, isn't that a violation of public trust?

The news story is about the opinion of Professor Geoff Martin of Mount Allison. He doesn't think much will happen; and he concludes, "Calling the police may be just a symbolic activity for council to show they are displeased with what happened."

Really. So council is not just handing our money by the bushel to a wealthy man. It is also wasting in an ineffective investigation - just to show it's all in a tizzy.....   This is not something council is doing for us. It's something council is doing for itself. And it's doing it because somebody told the truth about what council was doing to us members of the public.

Way to defend the citizens who voted for you, council.

Now, just so we all remember who to thank for this on council Election Day, would  the TandT be good enough to give us a list of who voted to make Mr. Robert Irving more secure in getting his supply of his daily bread? And who voted against it?

And wouldn't it be nice - for the next election - if the Irving press gave us some information about what these people stand for?

The same could be said for election of school  board members. These, too, seem mostly a rare collection of nobodies with minimal understanding of education. I am astonished that any school board would ever allow an outside special interest group to come into the schools and impose a programme on the students - as has just happened here. It's rather like inviting convicted pedophiles to teach classes on sex education.

But that all takes us to  the basic problem of New Brunswick politics, doesn't it?
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Well, one of the two, basic problems of New Brunswick politics. One problem is the ownership of the Liberals, the Conservatives and, I suspect, many councillors and school board members by big and greedy money (oops,  sorry -  philanthropists).

The other, and the first one that has to be tackled is the general ignorance of what is going on, what the issues are, what they mean, and how they can be dealt with.

That ignorance happens because most of the news of this province comes from a press dominated by liars, propagandists, big money and....oh...you know....editors who couldn't find their own bellybuttons using both hands.

And they can get away with it because this is a province in which people are too scared to exercise their basic right to discuss public affairs in public.

Forget the programmes, the policies, the pipelines, the events centre. Until this province deals with those two basic problems, it's going nowhere. The culture of ripping the public off is so rich here that if we turned out to be awash in shale gas with no greenhouse gas emissions and so pure you could grow flowers in it and feed it to your children, we'd still end up poor.

The problems of New Brunswick lie in traditions of placidity, of subservience and of fear. Those traditions have to be broken. And  you don't have much time.
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The Liberals and Conservatives will begin their campaigns seriously close to the election date. It already appears, though, that the Liberals have decided on their strategy - to let the Conservatives lose. It makes sense. That's a common strategy in this province. Indeed, that's  how Mr. Alward won. And that's why things never change.

That's a strategy that won't work for the alternate parties. Nor will it work for them to start campaigning at the same time as the  others. They have to change the way New Brunswickers think. You can't to that in a few months.

Nor can they expect fair treatment from the Irving press. They have to get out and rally people; and they have to start yesterday.

And they shouldn't waste their time at first discussing (yes, and getting everybody else to discuss) neat ideas like building a pipeline or building a new hockey rink. No, because they have to begin by encouraging people to rethink what politics is for, what it's all about.

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At the beginning, it's not about hockey rinks or pipelines. It's about the fundamental principles we live by, our values. Without those, all politics can be about is a fight in the jungle - and the  most vicious and deceitful and greedy always win those.

Before I would think of voting for a politician, I would want to know what his values are. How are we connected to each other? Are we connected? If we are, what is essential to maintain that connection. What do we owe each other? What do others owe us?

That's sort of like what people talk about in church ---except there's a point to it.

It's from that you build your programmes. But it takes time and it takes commitment and it takes frequency.

And it has to start soon. New Brunswick is ruled by a combination of greed, lack of any principle and, to a considerable degree lack of brains. And that's a formula that can only lead to destruction.

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