Sunday, January 19, 2014

RE: Cooperating for Progress #NBpoli. #NBvotes

Dominic Cardy, Leader New Brunswick New Democratic Party
David Coon, Leader Green Party of New Brunswick

The next provincial election is only months away. David Alward's austerity measures have met a cold reception and risky resource development plans have divided the province. In all likelihood, the people of New Brunswick will punish the governing Progressive Conservatives by electing Brian Gallant's Liberals. Still bitter from Shawn Graham's reckless corporate tax slash, I'd prefer another outcome and suggest electoral cooperation between the Greens and New Democrats to challenge to status quo politics for election 2014. 

The political culture of the province has not lent itself kindly to third party representation, and progressive vote-splitting favors Liberals and PCs in tight races. It is an expensive habit to alternate between Conservative and Liberal majorities who waste resources undoing the policies of the previous governments. 

Reticence to third party representation has left both of your parties seat-less going into election. I have previously written that progressives in New Brunswick would be best served by a merger, but the time to broker such a transition has lapsed. I'm also critical that partisan zeal and ego would have clouded any real discussion on a merger. I hope these evils will not poison talks of cooperation.

I urge your two parties borrow Nathan Cullen’s vision of cooperative politics through joint nominations for the upcoming election. As progressives, your parties share priorities of responsible economic and environmental stewardship, social justice, electoral reform, and effective social services. Third (and fourth) party representation and minority governments force compromise and consensus building that result in more sustainable public policies. Joint nominations are the most practical way to pursue a progressive agenda for the 2014 New Brunswick election.




Unknown said...

Well written, well said, well thought!

Cardy said...

Dear Devyn,

Thanks for your note. When I became leader of the NDP I made it clear that I was open to discussions with any party, on any subject, including electoral cooperation - party flags mean very little to me; the point of politics is to advance ideas and make life better for people. Too often party loyalty creates unnecessary divisions.

When I started talking about cooperation the Liberals immediately rejected the idea and, while the Greens, NDP and People's Alliance did put out a joint statement on shale gas David Coon, during the Green leadership race later in 2012, made it clear that he was not interested in cooperating with the NDP - that was the main point of disagreement between Mr. Coon and his only opponent, Roy MacMullin, who campaigned strongly in favour of cooperation. Mr. MacMullin has since joined the NDP - joining other Greens, Liberals, and PCs in making the NDP a stronger and more diverse party than it has ever been before.

I have worked with the government, proposing two anti-patronage bills that were passed into law and resulted, earlier this week, in a non-partisan appointment to the head of NB Liquor.

All of this to say that, in 2014, the New Democrats will be running a full slate of candidates but, before and after the election, I am always open to working with folks from other parties and from outside party politics to figure out ways we can make life better for New Brunswickers. The one thing I am not interested in is parties dividing up seats at the last minute to make it easier for them to win: cooperation has to be based on principle and a shared approach, not on gaming the system by depriving the voters of greater choice.

Thank you for the article and let me know if you come across anyone from the Green Party, or any other party, ready to talk. And if you think my approach could have been different, or better, I'd appreciate your insights. Take care, Dominic