Saturday, September 13, 2014

New Brunswick Liberal Association

The New Brunswick Liberal Association is a part of the Liberal Party of Canada, however, the two do not share membership lists. Why?

Well at one time, the NB Liberals claimed 450,000 members. Again, no extra 0's in there. They did give me the disclaimer that "many" of these people likely had "since moved out of province" or "passed on". I tried to find out if the lifetime memberships are still a thing. According to the most recent membership form, from 2009, free lifetime memberships are indeed still a thing. 2009 however is far from 2014, so to find out, I simply called the party, not 5 minutes ago. Due to the election, they are open today, and confirmed that the above is still the case, but that they have slightly fewer members, but did not give a hard number.

I know that this was one reason the Federal party took so long in moving to one-member-one-vote; with provinces like NB handing out memberships forever, for free, it was seen as unfair to those areas that did the traditional $10-for-a-year scheme.

Even in modern history, the NB Liberals have been among the most successful provincial Liberal party in the country. Their base of support is in the Acadian areas of the province.

The official platform is very well written and presented. The party's leader, Brian Gallant, is from Shediac Bridge, one of the most big L Liberal areas of the country, big L as in brand loyalty. This makes Gallant a Francophone Acadian, and he would thus be the first Acadian to win an election in the province since Louis Robichaud, the most famous and popular Liberal leader in the history of the province.

Prior to the election of Robichaud, New Brunswick was an English province. As I mentioned, I lived in the province for a year. I have family there, and my maternal Grandparents both were born and raised in New Brunswick. My Grandmother in particular was born and raised in Bouctouche, very close to Shediac and Saint-Antoine; the latter being where Robichaud was born and where I lived. My grandmother gave me some insight into how things were done in the pre-Robichaud New Brunswick.

Upon going in to town - Moncton in particular - she was instructed to "Speak white", which meant, do not speak French in public. Even in Dieppe, the Francophone suburb of Moncton, many people would speak English in public due to the way French was perceived; something to be ashamed of.

Robichaud won election in 1960. By 1963 the government was marred in scandal, and Robichaud called a snap election. Due, in part, to a victory by the Federal party in the middle of the campaign, Robichaud was able to lead the Liberals to a re-election victory.

It was that term, between 1963 and 1967, that saw the start of the reformist programs of Robichaud. "Equal Opportunity", which sought to break down the wealth gap between Anglophones and Francophones, was brought in. In the following term, after the 1967 election, Robichaud saw unrest, with Francophone students staging sit-ins and protests demanding more rights. The Campaign was eventually successful and saw New Brunswick become an officially bi-lingual province.

Following Hatfield, the Liberals would return under Frank McKenna, winning every seat in the province. The McKenna government was much more of a blue-liberal government, appealing to business and McKenna himself was known to say the "best social program we have is a job." After 10 years at the top, McKenna resigned as Premier, and the party went on to defeat in the following election.

Shawn Graham is the most recent Liberal premier. Graham, like McKenna, had a more moderate approach. In the end, however, voters tossed the government and replaced it with the Tories under David Alward.

Today, Brian Gallant is leader, and is running on a very progressive campaign, one that harkens back to the days of Louis Robichaud. The party is committing to raising income taxes on the "super rich" and improve social programs.

Polls all point to an easy Liberal victory.

How easy of a victory?

Pretty easy, given the numbers.

Things still are yet to be decided however. The next poll (or polls) will help clear up exactly where everybody stands. Right now, however, a Liberal landslide is to be expected.

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