A long time friend of more than thirty years contacted me to say we will always be friends but he did not appreciate the NDP rhetoric of late. And that is alright that is what this column is about respectful differences of opinion.
Not long ago I had some friends who were not happy with my comments made about Justin Trudeau and the Liberals and that is alright too.
In late summer I angered some of my NDP friends when I used the sharp end of the pen to be extremely critical. The point is as a citizen, I do state my opinion that is the reason to write this and create discussion about together how we can improve the outlook of Canada one voice at a time as it were.
I don’t expect everyone to agree, but I do expect people to be respectful of each other. I want to make clear I am not just hostile to one party or another on the issues of the day. But when they screw things up it should be pointed out.
It was surprising to me how frank Peter MacKay was in his criticism of his party leader and the reasons for their recent defeat. The point is Peter realizes a party is a living entity and its positions change with time. Recently someone asked me to name one, as they put it, a socialist provincial government that got it right. First I would say Tommy Douglas In Saskatchewan. By the same token Alberta had a great Premier in Peter Lougheed, a conservative.
By the way we have never had a pure socialist government In Canada but we have had social democratic governments. There is a huge difference.
BC had two great Premiers who in their own way shaped our present and future. WAC Bennett and Dave Barrett. We tend to look at budgets alone instead of vision for their mission. I hear a lot about the socialist agenda, At times I chuckle. Dave Barrett brought in the Agricultural Land Reserve started by Bennett actually, and ICBC.
Remember, WAC Bennett was a conservative to the core. So what was his legacy. In true socialist fashion he nationalized more things than anyone realizes. Bennett took control of many companies in the interest of BC among them: BC Rail, BC Hydro, BC Gas, BC Ferries as part of a long list and operated them under the umbrella of government. At the time it was the right thing to do. See a government leader with a vision regardless of party seems to have a finger on the pulse of the future regardless of the rantings of the rest of us. In a democracy we the public decide in the end whether it was right or wrong. The thing that brought down the NDP Government of Dave Barrett was the Agricultural Land Reserve.
It turns out to be overwhelmingly popular today and supported by all parties that have been in power since 1975. Not because a party likes it but because the general public does.
So who was the worst Provincial Premier? If we are to listen to angry voters it would be the Government of Richard Hatfield in 1987. The list of transgressions was a long one and on election night under Hatfield the conservatives lost every single seat in the house. It is questionable if that would have happened today and here is why. Premier Richard Hatfield was at one time the longest serving Premier in New Brunswick. He led the government from 1970 to 1987. He was a bit of an enigma.
He was a supporter of John Diefenbaker and later Pierre Trudeau, even though he was a conservative. His troubles began when police found marihuana in his luggage while he accompanied the Queen on a visit to that province. There was an unproven paternity case that hung around for a while. There were other issues as well. The Marihuana incident turned into a major scandal. By today’s standards it would barely have caused a ripple on the political pond.
There was also the case of Grant Devine in Saskatchewan. That government actually saw some members go from governance to prison. Grant Devine was Premier from 1982 to 1991. He was the first elected stand alone conservative government in Saskatchewan. It is worthy to note there was a prior Tory minority government that was a coalition government of the Liberals and Conservatives. Yes I said a coalition government.
In nine years the government overspent in the billions during an economic downturn and a drought. Devine weakened labor laws and brought in welfare reform, in a recession.
The scandal that emerged was 13 MLA;s and senior staff were charged with expense account fraud and a few went to prison for their misdeeds. Devine was not implicated in the sordid affair.
Now consider, both those provinces have conservative governments today. It points out a government is a living entity with its own legacy and we as citizens should listen to all ideas when it comes to our future.