Tuesday, January 30, 2007

UPDATE - Liberals sort of consult

Well about an hour and a half after this the post about the Liberals not wanting to consult went up, they decided they wanted to consult. Well sort of...

No public consultations other than a loaded question survey, or you can book an appointment for a "Private Consultation" with the task force chairs...but no town hall meetings, etc.

Well, at least they are reacting to what is being said...

Liberals don't want to consult

Once again rumours are circulating that Shawn Graham did not appreciate the bind that Francis McGuire put him in last week with his comments about making northern towns commuter towns. A tight leash is being put on McGuire as the Liberal spin machine tries to figure out how to do damage control.

This is apparently why no public consultations have been announced and why no public "Blog" has been launched on the self-sufficiency website as promised. McGuire promised the "Blog" during the task force launch as a way "to spur discussion about various issues that crop up." This could be one of those issues. Perhaps they want to avoid discussing this one any further.


Interesting notes from the three English dailies on January 24, 2007, the day following the storm created by McGuire's comments.

The Moncton paper reported that "McGuire was in Quebec City yesterday and couldn't be reached for comment."

The Fredericton paper reported that "McGuire was out of the country and unavailable for comment Tuesday."

The Saint John paper apparently was able to reach McGuire somewhere for comment as they had a lengthy article trying to "Calm the storm."

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Telegraph Journal + Liberals = Propaganda Machine?

People within the Liberal government are quietly talking about the growing closeness between the Telegraph Journal and Shawn Graham’s inner circle.

It is no secret that the Telegraph Journal has been Shawn Graham’s biggest promoter since last summer. Many people, including some journalists, publicly stated during the last election campaign that the “provincial paper” seemed to give extra favourable coverage to Shawn Graham and the Liberals.

Considerable concern was being voiced today that the editorial that ran in Monday’s Telegraph Journal calling for the abolition of the Taxpayer Protection Act so that the Liberals can raise taxes, closely followed by Victor Boudreau’s announcement later on that day that he may raise taxes are a little too coincidental. Some people are even linking it to the internal transfer of Carl Davies from the Telegraph Journal to the Office of Government Members.

This type of coincidence is starting to raise questions in the government about how this close relationship could backfire. If people continue to see the TJ boosting the Liberals when most other media outlets are raising questions about their tactics, people will start to dismiss the TJ as merely a Liberal propaganda machine.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Rowinski moved out of Premier's office

Less than one month before the launch of the Liberal government’s first legislative session a major change has been made in the Premier’s Office. Jan Rowinski had been the Legislative Coordinator in the Premier’s Office since the Liberals were sworn in last October. According to the online GNB employee directory, Rowinski has been replaced by Leopold Mallet.

This is not a total surprise as many people within government are quietly saying that the Liberals are still unprepared for the Legislative session as February 6 looms closer and closer. A legislative agenda is still being widely debated and remains unfocused, the budget is going to be tougher than most people think (tax hikes), and no one knows the hours and days that the Legislative Assembly will actually sit.

What is odd about this change is that Rowinski has been moved to Atlantic Education International in Moncton at the School District 2 offices, but he still retained his title of “Legislative Coordinator.” Why would the government need a “Legislative Coordinator” working for an agency associated with the Department of Education? Why is he still listed as the Legislative Coordinator in the Office of the Premier on the Liberal Party’s website? They were able to update it quickly enough to add Carl Davies as a “Communications Officer” for the Office of Government Members.

By the way…
Someone should tell the Chief of Staff at the Office of Government Members to call the Executive Director of the New Brunswick Liberal Party to change Carl’s title on the Liberal website. The Liberals list him as a “Communications Officer” and the Government lists him as “Director of Communications.” Journalists are sticklers for detail and always like to have their facts right.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Roberta Dugas Must Resign

There is growing concern about how the Liberals are making patronage appointments. The latest concerns Roberta Dugas who was recently named Chair of the Workplace, Health, Safety and Compensation Commission.

Roberta Dugas is a partisan Liberal – she ran and lost as a Liberal in a by-election in 2001 – this itself is not that unusual as most of these types of appointments are political in nature, but what is concerning about this appointment is that as of January 11, 2007, she is still listed as the Co-Chair of the Liberal Party’s Policy and Resolutions Committee (http://www.nblib.nb.ca/executive.htm).

I find it unacceptable that Roberta Dugas can be appointed to such a high-profile, non-partisan government position and still maintain a blatantly partisan role within the Liberal Party of New Brunswick. Roberta Dugas must publicly resign from the WHSCC or from her role as Co-Chair of the Policy and Resolutions Committee of the Liberal Party.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

BREAKING NEWS: Graham guts government

Word is abuzz in the New Brunswick civil service this morning that Shawn Graham is poised to announce a 10% staff reduction. This is said to be achieved through both early retirement offers and terminations of employment.

The Trenchcoat has learned that the packages being offered are not that good which is making this much harder on the hard-working people that keep government moving.

Francis McGuire, Liberal henchman and architect of the Liberals self-sufficiency plan, was seen entering the Centennial Building this morning with his cloak and sickle, which is never a good sign for the civil service.

It seems as though Shawn Graham is going to start New Brunswick's move toward self-sufficiency by making people more self-sufficient. Perhaps his theory is that people shouldn't rely on the government for things like...oh let's say, jobs.

This guy comes out of nowhere, wins a seat in the Legislature and then goes on to achieve a stunning victory in the race to become Liberal Caucus Chair. Since that pinnacle moment for Miles, he has lost everything else...first he lost an entire school in his riding and now it looks as though he hasn't been able to stand up to his own Caucus and demand that jobs in his riding be protected.

This guy just can't catch a break.

Tuesday, January 9, 2007

Lamrock calls out Boudreau, Graham

In case anyone was wondering that was Kelly Lamrock calling out Finance Minister Victor Boudreau and Shawn "Good Times" Graham in the TJ this morning.

Turns out despite both the Premier and Finance Minister warning New Brunswickers that the Liberal government is on the verge of a deficit and that spending cuts are coming, the Education Minister is making sure that he publicly commits the government to funding his departmental priorities.

Here is what Lamrock told the TJ...

"As minister my intention is to go forward and make sure it is implemented. I feel it would be financially reckless to not do it. If you don't intervene early you pay more later on. It is going to ultimately be a bigger problem. Even if one put one's heart aside and made a hard-headed financial decision, it would still be the best thing to do."

Essentially this is Lamrock telling the Honourable Mr. Boudreau and Premier Good Times through the media that they need to stop acting in a "financially reckless" manner and that they had better not screw around with his plans. He is also saying that he is heartless and has the hard-head he feels is necessary to break more Liberal promises if that is necessary...as long as they are not in his department.

UPDATE: Carl Davies to join Liberals

Well just as The Trenchcoat predicted last week Carl Davies has in fact left the Telegraph Journal and become the Director of Communications in the Liberal Government Members Office.

I have to say that Carl's departure is in fact a blow for the Telegraph Journal...but on the other hand, perhaps now the TJ will give the Liberals the coverage they deserve.

Saturday, January 6, 2007

Don't Worry Shawn, it's the SuperCrats to the Rescue

Remember that wacky idea Shawn Graham announced back in August to hire a team of people who would be brought in to tell the civil service what to do…affectionately referred to as The SuperCrats? Well as quickly as Shawn backed away from that idea in public, he has been quietly putting it in place. The latest signal comes from an interview given by Supercrat #1, Chris Baker, the Deputy Minister of Policy and Priorities.

Baker told the Telegraph Journal that the role of the Executive Council Office (ECO) is changing from an office that co-ordinates proposals from various departments to one that actually develops the policies and assigns the work to the various departments. In other words, policy development in the New Brunswick is being centralized within a small group of people.

Political scientist Donald Savoie has written a well-respected book that argued against these types of policy development models that concentrate power. He has stated that in these models “the risk is that ministers are relegated to being cheerleaders for the government.”

So if Donald Savoie thinks that cabinet ministers will no longer have input or be able to lead their departments and the Premier’s Office is supposed to let the ECO operate independently, who gets to create policies? Cue Chris Baker and his team of SuperCrats!

Thursday, January 4, 2007

Where's Rick?

Many people were wondering where Shawn Graham was when he sent his Finance Minister out to inform New Brunswickers that he willfully deceived voters when they promised to keep the 8% HST rebate on home heating costs, only to turn around and scrap it without blinking an eye.

"The Trenchcoat" is wondering where another Liberal MLA is. Fredericton Silverwood MLA, Rick Myles has been noticeably absent from the Albert Street School debate. Is the rookie MLA happy that a school is being picked up and moved out of his riding? What is he telling concerned parents? Perhaps his silence on this issue was part of a deal he made to become Liberal Caucus Chair.

Myles owes his constituents a public statement outlining his position concerning the Albert Street School. I actually doubt that we will ever see it because Kelly Lamrock has probably bullied the rookie into silence.

Rick Myles it is time to stand up and tell the good people of Fredericton Silverwood where you stand on protecting schools in your riding!

Carl Davies to join Liberals

Looks like Carl Davies is walking away from the Telegraph Journal and joining the Shawn Graham government.

"The Trenchcoat" has learned that while no official position has been confirmed it appears as though he will be moving out of his Press Gallery Office at the Legislature and moving up one floor to work out of the Government Member's Office in a political communications role.

Wednesday, January 3, 2007

Energy employees get early Christmas present

The hard working employees of the Department of Energy got a nice present from their new boss - Liberal appointee, Claire LePage.

"The Trenchcoat" has learned that a memo was circulated in the week leading up to Christmas telling them they can either pack their bags for Saint John or start looking for work somewhere else - what a wonderful present for the holidays.

They have until spring to make up their minds on whether they prefer walking along the Harbour Passage to lining up at the unemployment office. Unlike the broken promise to leave more money in taxpayers pockets by eliminating the HST on NB Power bills, the Liberal brain trust thinks this bone-headed campaign promise, which will end up costing taxpayers thousands of dollars in extra office space, moving expenses and recruitment costs, is worth keeping.

Tuesday, January 2, 2007

Liberals to Name Self-Sufficiency Committee

Over the Christmas break New Brunswick's gawky premier told an editorial board in Moncton that he was soon going to announce a committee that is supposed to figure out how to make New Brunswick self-sufficient by 2025.

The need for the committee is someone bizarre given that last August and September this something the Liberals told New Brunswickers they had already figured out...Well it doesn't really matter because it turns out that most of what they told New Brunswickers during the election campaign was written in disappearing ink anyway...moving on.

"The Trenchcoat" has learned that the Liberals have already rented space and work has been underway for quite some time. While the Liberals spending money they say they don't have is no surprise, what is surprising is the people who are heading up the task force. Liberal campaign Co-Chair, Francis McGuire and two retired deputy ministers Paul Aucoin and Julian Walker. Weren't these guys the same people that ended up stewarding the McKenna Miracle that drove unemployment into double-digits?

What exactly they are supposed to be doing and how much they are being paid is still a secret, but if Claudette Bradshaw is any example they will be making a tidy deputy ministers salary plus their pension. In Claudette's case that is $150,000 plus her federal pension of almost $60,000. That is almost $210,000 to be an advocate for the province's disadvantaged...not bad Claudette).