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PostPosted: Sat Feb 13, 2010 3:08 pm    Post subject: Shawn Graham's liberal government falling apart Reply with quote

( whats surprising is that before this whole NB power sale to quebec he was doing very well and seen as a rising star but as of now it appears things have fallen apart and he is in great trouble going into septembers elections there )

N.B. premier shrugs off dissent and will press ahead with sale of power plants
Published Saturday February 6th, 2010

Enlarge Photo THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew VaughanPremier Shawn Graham, Quebec Premier Jean Charest and Quebec Natural Resources Minister Nathalie Normandeau, left to right, chat with the crowd at a ceremony to sign a memo of understanding regarding the takeover of NB Power by Hydro-Quebec in Fredericton on Thursday, Oct. 29, 2009.

FREDERICTON - Despite sustained public opposition and the resignation of a cabinet minister, New Brunswick Premier Shawn Graham says he's pushing ahead with the sale of parts of NB Power because he believes it's in the best interest of the province.

The renewed commitment came a day after Graham asked Stuart Jamieson to quit as tourism and parks miniter, saying Jamieson broke cabinet solidarity over the pending sale.

"As a premier today I am more confident than ever, even with these challenges before us, we have to do what we were elected to do," Graham said Saturday. "That's to provide leadership and do what's right for the future of our province."

Jamieson, who has reservations about the $3.2-billion agreement to sell 10 power plants to Hydro-Quebec, argued it should be put to a public referendum.

The proposal was watered down from a $4.75-billion agreement announced last fall, which included transmission and distribution systems.

The government made the changes following a public outcry and open dissent within the Liberal caucus.

A number of caucus members, including Social Development Minister Kelly Lamrock and Saint John-Lancaster member Abel LeBlanc, said they could not vote in favour of the original deal.

"We listened to what the MLAs were saying, and they made the error of talking publicly about what we were discussing behind closed doors, but the difference here today is that Stuart Jamieson - a cabinet minister - has made a decision that he cannot support the revised deal," Graham said.

With just seven months to go until a scheduled provincial election, Graham said there's no need for a referendum.

"Reforms like equal opportunity, and reforms like official languages - those reforms were not taken to the people in a referendum," Graham said. "It was the courage of a government of the day to see them through and today New Brunswickers have that benefit."

But Conservative Opposition Leader David Alward said Graham's Liberal government is collapsing like a house of cards.

"Over the last several days we've heard of more discontent within the Liberal caucus," Alward said Saturday. "The premier is trying to manage a crisis, and he's not managing the province."

Alward said Jamieson's resignation came as no surprise to him, and he expects other cabinet ministers will follow.

He said the premier has shown disrespect for New Brunswickers by refusing to hold a referendum, and by pressing ahead with controversial reforms to post-secondary education, French second-language training, and reforms in the health-care system.

Jamieson is the third minister to quit Graham's cabinet in the last seven months. Mike Murphy and T.J. Burke have returned to their law practices.

Jamieson's departure is the first resignation linked to the controversial power deal.

Graham said lawyers are working on the final wording of the agreement and the necessary legislation, and he plans to sign a final agreement with Quebec by the end of March.


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PostPosted: Sat Feb 13, 2010 3:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

'Political damage is huge'

Published Monday February 8th, 2010
Trouble | Liberals face tough opposition to power deal

)The Jamieson revolt against the $3.2-billion NB Power deal is the most significant move yet in the political saga that has gripped the province for months, says University of New Brunswick political scientist Don Desserud.

"This is a turning point for the premier," said Desserud on Sunday.

"He has to contain this now or he is in serious trouble with his own party."

On Friday, Parks and Tourism Minister Stuart Jamieson announced he was asked to step down from cabinet by Premier Shawn Graham because of his opposition to the deal

to sell NB Power assets to Hydro-Quebec.

Jamieson said he favours a public referendum on the issue.

"I've had problems with this decision from the beginning and I really feel that the people of New Brunswick should be allowed to be part of the decision," Jamieson said Friday.

Desserud said the Liberal party's internal disagreements about the way the NB Power deal has been handled are becoming more obvious.

He said there was no attempt to put any spin on Jamieson leaving, such as he was stepping down for health reasons or to spend more time with family.

This was the premier sending an open message to cabinet and caucus that he's in charge and dissent won't be tolerated, said Desserud.

To be so open about why Jamieson is leaving is a bold move by Graham to re-establish party discipline, he said.

"That's a gamble. The opposite could happen.

"This could be what people (within the party who are opposed to the deal) are waiting for."

He said opposition to the deal within the Liberal party will either go quiet or flare up even more.

"The unthinkable is no longer unthinkable," said Desserud.

There could be an open caucus revolt that forces Graham to back out of the power deal or risk losing a vote on it in the legislature.

If that happens, then the premier will be premier in name only, he said.

But the political scientist said he doesn't think that's likely. He said once Graham realizes there is that much opposition, he will back out of the deal before it becomes public.

Desserud said at the beginning of the year he thought it would be impossible for the Liberals to back out of the power deal without suffering crippling political damage. But that has changed.

"I think the odds are increasing daily (that they will back out of the deal)," he said.

"The political damage is huge and getting stronger. They are looking at a disaster scenario."

But even backing out of the deal now won't save the party in the fall election, Desserud predicted.

"That is not going to change their fortunes.''

The Liberals are now at the point of trying to save as many seats as possible in September's vote with the goal of rebuilding the party at some point in the future, said Desserud.

The Opposition is enjoying the Liberal distress, he said.

"This is the kind of scenario they have been waiting for. What they have been waiting to see is the crack in the facade.

"This is yet another sign the dissension in the ranks is getting stronger and stronger."

But the Opposition has to be careful, said Desserud.

If they push too hard - such as forcing a no confidence vote - it could cause the government MLAs to reunify, he said.

"When you are under attack you close ranks," said Desserud.


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PostPosted: Sat Feb 13, 2010 3:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Liberal blows stack, calls Tory a 'punk'
Published Friday February 12th, 2010
Temper | Saint John MLA kicked out of legislature for making obscene gestures

Saint John Lancaster Liberal MLA Abel LeBlanc was expelled from the legislature Thursday for losing his temper and using an obscene hand gesture at the Opposition.

Enlarge Photo This image taken from video shows Liberal MLA Abel LeBlanc shaking his fist at the Opposition on Thursday. It happened after Speaker Roy Boudreau ordered LeBlanc to apologize for heckling Rothesay Tory MLA Margaret-Ann Blaney and gesturing at her earlier in the day.

"I'll not apologize in this house for that young lady over there," said LeBlanc.

He said she lied recently about former Parks and Tourism minister Stuart Jamieson, who was fired from cabinet last week for demanding a referendum on the controversial NB Power deal.

The Opposition cried out in protest.

"Well, I am going to tell you (Carleton Tory MLA) Dale (Graham) I will walk outside with any one of youse (sic) here," said LeBlanc. "Don't ever laugh at me. Yes, I gave you that (hand gesture) and I will give you that again."

At this point, LeBlanc made the obscene gesture again on camera.

"And I will give you this," he said, shaking his fist. "If you want to go outside.

"You're a punk."

The house erupted and when it calmed down, Boudreau said LeBlanc must apologize or leave the legislature.

LeBlanc left the house.

The dust up started when LeBlanc heckled Blaney during question period and she complained.

"I have been hearing that white noise again from the member for Saint John Lancaster, who continues to insult me on a regular basis," said Blaney.

"There he goes again. Just about every day that I stand up, Mr. Speaker, this man insults me."

After question period, Opposition house leader Paul Robichaud raised a point of order on the issue.

Boudreau warned all MLAs to be respectful.

At that point, the Opposition MLAs complained that LeBlanc made the first obscene hand gesture off camera.

Government house leader Greg Byrne tried to be the peacekeeper.

"Tempers do rise here at times," he said. "This is an issue that we as a caucus will address.

"We will make sure that we try to use our best efforts not only to show respect during question period but at all times that the house is in session."

Then Boudreau allowed LeBlanc to speak and he launched into his tirade and left the house.

Premier Shawn Graham said what LeBlanc did was unacceptable.

"It is disappointing," he said. "We cannot tolerate actions like that."

Graham said the Speaker's ruling was appropriate and it's up to the Speaker to decide how long LeBlanc must stay out of the house.

"It is important that we maintain decorum in the house," he said.

Robichaud said LeBlanc's outburst is another sign that Graham has lost control of his caucus.

"It is a government in total disarray," he said.

"It is division. It is rebellion inside the caucus and the cabinet and this is not good for the province of New Brunswick."

When a government is in panic mode it doesn't make the best decisions for the province, said Robichaud.

He also said the Liberal caucus should decide if further action should be taken against LeBlanc.

"There is no doubt this is unacceptable," said Robichaud.

"This is a clear example of bullying."

LeBlanc and Blaney weren't available for comment on the issue Thursday.

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Shawn Graham's liberal government falling apart

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