Reign of T(error)

New Brunswick’s former Premier, Liberal leader Brian Gallant has informed his caucus of his intention to step down from the Party’s top job.

He will make the formal announcement later this morning but will remain at the helm until the Party selects a new leader.

 

Therein lies the fly in the ointment.

 

Should the precarious PC minority cobbled together by Blaine Higgs fall, the Liberals could find themselves going into another Election campaign with Gallant as the face of the Party.

 

That would be a huge mistake

 

The recent election saw the Liberal Party almost wiped off the map in southern ridings and Gallant’s leadership style was largely the reason.

It would be foolhardy for them to assume all is forgiven and follow their severely damaged Leader to the polls when the wounds from his reign of (t)error are still open and not likely to heal soon.

Gallant’s penchant for destroying his rivals by any means revealed itself early when his supporters savaged his opponent for the Liberal leadership by painting him as anti-Acadian.

 

Mike Murphy, a former Party President and Cabinet Minister, attended francophone schools and is fluently bilingual but an errant email allowed Gallant supporters to paint him as an enemy of Acadie.

In a missive to supporter and Liberal MLA Chris Collins, Murphy mentioned Gallant was drumming up support using “the Acadian thing”. 

Collins’ response was not very complimentary to Gallant and one of Gallant’s biggest backers, Liberal MLA Victor Boudreau (now retired).

His comments were meant for the private discussion between he and Murphy but Collins accidentally hit the “reply all” button instead of “reply” and his words were widespread.

Gallant supporters were quick to jump.

The media was immediately notified and Liberal MLA Bill Fraser wrote a “letter of outrage”.

(Fraser was defeated in the last election and is now selling cars for a living.)

The damage was done.

Murphy was draped with the anti-Acadian mantle and Collins was mocked as a fool.

Gallant won the Leadership by a landslide and rebuffed Murphy’s offer to make it unanimous by running under Gallant’s leadership in the election to come.

An effort to find someone to run against the popular Collins in a pre-election nomination race failed miserably, and Collins went on to take Moncton Centre for the Liberals by a huge margin in the ensuing election.

 

Brian Gallant was riding high.

The Opposition Leader was tremendously popular and polls suggested the next election would produce a huge Liberal majority.

 

But Gallant’s inexperience quickly became evident.

 

A series of serious campaign gaffes, including not being able to explain his own taxation proposals in a television interview and then asking for a do-over, had the Big Red Machine sputtering badly after roaring off the starting line.

When the smoke cleared the Liberal Party had gone from Juggernaut to just squeaking through with a small majority.

 

What should have been a harbinger for the Liberal brain trust was ignored.

Everyone bent the knee to the new boss and those who dared disagree paid the price.

The Liberal Party offices were scrubbed clean of long time, experienced Party loyalists whose only misdeed was supporting Gallant’s leadership opponent.

They were replaced by Gallant sycophants.

 

For the next four years the Liberal Government accomplished little while dividing the Province along linguistic lines.

 

But Gallant’s determination to rule with an iron fist became legendary.

When Canadian hero, Dr. Elish Cleary, returned from treating African victims of the Ebola Virus she was fired from her job as Chief Medical Officer without cause while she was conducting a study into the pros and cons of “fracking” (a controversial method of extracting natural gas that the new Government had placed a moratorium on).

The firing raised eyebrows as the moratorium was supposed to allow for time to study the process and Cleary won a huge monetary settlement.

The Government later made the fracking moratorium permanent and no Cleary study was ever seen.

 

The next victim was the CEO of the francophone health care system.

Rino Volpe took the Government to court and won after he was given the boot by the aforementioned Victor Boudreau who was Minister of Health at the time.

The taxpayer was on the hook again.

 

Then came what’s known as “the property tax scandal”.

When thousands of New Brunswickers began   questioning very large increases in their property taxes they learned that Service New Brunswick employees had charged them for renovations that never happened!

In fact, SNB made them up!

Why?

To cover up serious problems with a new collection system that wasn’t supposed to be implemented until it was perfected.

SNB claimed the Premier ordered them to “fast track” the system but Gallant said that wasn’t true.

The back and forth went on for weeks, and an investigation was conducted but couldn’t determine who was lying.

 

From Murphy to Collins to Cleary to Volpe to SNB, the bodies under the bus were beginning to build up and voters were starting to notice.

 

Then came the Liberals’ ill-advised 2018 Election campaign.

For months, day after day, starting long before the writ was dropped, radio, television, and newspaper ads besmirched the reputation and accomplishments of PC Leader, Blaine Higgs.

They pounded home the words, “Blaine Higgs, he’s not for you!”

 

But, while the ads were smearing Gallant’s main opponent, voters started to notice there was something missing.

 

Accomplishments.

 

Governments normally spend some campaign time telling us about their successes.

But, like their entire four years in power, their campaign was bereft of anything to brag about.

Instead it concentrated on trying to crush the reputation of the Leader of the Opposition.

 

The result is now history.

 

But will Brian Gallant try to force another election before the Liberals select a new leader?

 

After trying to cling to power since his defeat at the polls, I submit that’s a very real possibility.

A last ditch attempt at trying to keep his job.

 

The Party would be decimated if it went back to the polls with Gallant as leader.

 

NB Liberals should select an interim Leader until Gallant’s replacement is found.

 

Liberals:

Brian Gallant: He’s not for you 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Purple Donkey website and blog is the creation of retired journalist and former NB MLA, Doug Harrison.

He can be reached on Twitter at @DonkeyPurple and @jernalist.

Francostein! The Liberal Nightmare!

 

The ballooning cost of a sporting event slated to attract elite athletes from all over the world to New Brunswick is threatening to destroy the NB Liberal Party brand and bring down it’s lame duck leader.

Brian Gallant, the good looking, fast talking Acadian lawyer who was once touted as the next Frank McKenna stormed to power and became Premier of New Brunswick in 2014.

Four short years later he sits as Leader of the Opposition, his political career in tatters.

Already having announced he will resign as Liberal leader as soon as the Party selects a new boss, he is danger of being unceremoniously dumped long before a Leadership Convention is held.

The Francophonie Games, a world class event that had never before been held in this country were scheduled to come to Canada’s only bilingual Province following a successful 17 million dollar bid by a committee put together by the then Liberal Government.

The next closest bid, submitted by Sherbrooke, Quebec was 50 million dollars.

 

Winning the Games was a big deal for the Gallant Liberals, the Province’s large Francophone population, and the Province and Country in general!

But that’s where the fun stopped.

 

Following the defeat of the Liberals in the recent 2018 election the 17 million dollar estimated cost to run the Games, with 10 million to be paid by the Province, had ballooned to 131 million!

Bad news for a Province deeply in debt and under threat of it’s credit rating being downgraded; which would raise the interest rate and add millions to the debt with the stroke of a pen.

 

Then came worse news.

 

The bid committee selected by the Liberals had no business plan!

The 17 million dollar figure had basically been plucked out of the air!

At the time they said the bid was so much lower than Sherbrooke’s because much of the infrastructure needed was already in place.

However, a few years later, a large part of the new 131 million dollar ask was for, wait for it, infrastructure!

That’s when those sniffing the air around the emerging scandal detected the stench of a Government that wanted the Games at all costs to play to it’s large Francophone base.

The Liberals kept the new numbers secret so voters wouldn’t learn of the financial fiasco until after the Election.

They’d have another four years for the public to forget about yet another Government project that drove them even further into debt.

 

Except, despite the polls indicating otherwise, they didn’t win.

 

When the new numbers came out the fledgling PC Government said it wouldn’t pay a cent more than the 10 million already committed.

Busily trying to slash costs to avoid a credit downgrade, Premier Higgs wasn’t about to dump millions more into a poorly conceived sporting event with little or no economic benefits for the vast majority of the Province.

Even under threats from the Liberals’ Federal cousins Higgs stood fast as the stink surrounding the whole mess became a full blown manure pile.

As the onion was peeled back it was learned that the Games’ bid committee contained close friends of Brian Gallant

They were using a Communications firm owned by the spouse of a Committee member who also happened to be a longtime Liberal Party insider and a friend of Brian Gallant.

2 million dollars had already been spent with little or no visible benefits.

Gallant at first wouldn’t answer any questions because he claimed (through a spokesperson) that he had no knowledge as he had recused himself from the subject of the Games because he had friends on the Committee.

He said he didn’t tell the Ethics Commissioner because he “didn’t have to”.

A couple days later he held a press conference at which he told the media he “couldn’t remember” when he had recused himself. (This raised many an eyebrow as a recusal is a big deal that would normally stand out like a neon sign in one’s memory. And, had he told the Ethics Commissioner of his recusal, there would have been a record of it.)

 

The manure pile had morphed into a cess pool!

 

At 131 million dollars the Games scandal is double the cost of the ATCON scam and calls for an investigation are coming from all corners; including from a former Liberal Cabinet Minister and Party President who was also Gallant’s opponent in the 2014 Liberal leadership race.

Moncton lawyer Mike Murphy wants a Committee of the Legislative Assembly to look into how the whole thing came about.

 

He’s not alone.

 

The whispers in the Liberal Party are no longer whispers.

There are many who are openly wondering what would happen should a snap election be called with Gallant still at the helm.

Their concerns are valid.

Liberal Party insiders have already told the media that, during the last election campaign, Gallant was so unpopular in southern New Brunswick that Liberal candidates didn’t dare mention his name at the door.

Rather than the second coming of Frank McKenna, he was a millstone around his candidates’ necks.

Following his Party’s loss in the recent Election Gallant avoided a Leadership Review by claiming he was resigning but would stay on as Party Leader until a new one is selected at a Convention that could be almost 2 years down the road.

This too raised many a jaundiced eye as it leaves open the possibility of another election with Gallant leading the troops.

For his part, Gallant says caucus wanted him to stay rather than pick an interim Leader.

 

The drums are beating and many Liberals are wondering:

 

What does the Liberal caucus think now?

 

They’re now the only ones who can make Brian Gallant go away.