The Case For 'Incremental' Politics In New Brunswick – Huddle Today
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David Campbell is a Moncton-based economic development consultant and co-host of the Huddle podcast, Insights. The following piece was originally published on his blog, It’s the Economy, Stupid!, on Substack.
This isn’t a political blog. I avoid partisan politics because I have seen how politicians have messed up good economic development programs because they felt they had to do something different than their predecessor (and then promised to do so strenuously during the election).
But because this toxic form of politics is now coming squarely into the domain of economic development, I will make a few points that are hopefully worthy of the 145 seconds you will need to read this.
In a democracy, politicians should aspire to incremental, consensus-building politics. That’s true even, and especially, in parliamentary democracies like ours where the party in power normally has a mostly free hand to do what they want. In this system, the next party can just come in and undo what the other team did.
There was a time when a premier or prime minister would talk about being the premier/prime minister of all Canadians (or insert your province here). The line was something like: “Yes, we have our disagreements and I won’t change my mind on big issues that I care about, but I respect the fact that people can see things differently. I’ll try to win you over but we will work on finding areas of common ground where we can move ahead together.”
Now, for the most part, it’s something much, much different. I thought the vitriol against Harper was bad. Nothing I have ever seen compared to our current Prime Minister. I realize the “F-word” is now more commonplace than ever but now I see bumper stickers and TicTok videos with a branded “F Trudeau” theme (the U is a maple leaf for effect).
Things are bad. Maybe we should still have some respect for the office and some basic human decency in political discourse. If you poke around social media, you will see things just as bad about Premier Higgs, although they’re not as pervasive.
We have big challenges. New Brunswick needs to bring in thousands more people each year to meet workforce demand. We need growth industries that are export-focused to ensure we can sustainably generate tax revenue to fund public services, even as we decarbonize the entire economy in 25 or so years. We need to have high-quality and accessible public services in all corners of the province. Shortages of everything and unprecedented wait times will blow up any consensus.
Can’t we find a more accommodating form of politics? Forget social media — the algorithm will always reward the nastiest voices; the shock value alone drives clicks.
We have a potential example right here. When Susan Holt, I, and others finished the first draft of the provincial growth plan about five years ago her idea was to take it to the opposition and try to get consensus on the broad strokes of the plan. It was a good idea because if government changed there wouldn’t be a big effort to redo the economic development direction of the province and a one-to-two-year wait for the new government to figure things out.
It was possible the opposition wouldn’t play ball. It was possible the changes they would propose would be a bridge too far. But it was a modest effort at consensus politics.
Our boss at the time said no.
We will see if she has the same approach in opposition. Will she applaud economic development and population growth initiatives that align with her vision? Or will she oppose for the sake of opposition? Will she build goodwill or rant and rave about the apocalypse underway?
There is enormous temptation now to get into the social media gutter: To call politicians names, to exaggerate, to burn any kind of goodwill that might exist. That is what gets the likes and the retweets. It’s a nice dopamine hit to see the counter ticking up.
But we need incremental, consensus-building politics now more than ever.
P.S. Someone told me this is generational, that Millennials and Gen Z will burn longstanding friendships because of a disagreement over pronouns or something. I’m not sure. It might just be my networks, but the old-timers seem to be just as cranky. We need to bring young and old into this new approach to politics.
Huddle publishes commentaries from groups and individuals on important business issues facing the Maritimes. These commentaries do not necessarily reflect the opinion of Huddle. To submit a commentary for consideration, contact editor Mark Leger: [email protected].
What does Trump’s indictment mean for American politics?
Donald Trump is expected to become the first former or sitting US president to face criminal charges.
Donald Trump is expected to appear before a New York court on Tuesday, where he will become the first former or sitting US president to face criminal charges.
The charges have not been revealed yet, but a grand jury has been investigating a payment of $130,000 to adult film actress Stormy Daniels, who alleges she had an extramarital affair with Trump which he has always denied.
Media reports in the US suggest the former president may face other charges, too.
Trump denies all wrongdoing and says he is the victim of a witch-hunt by the Democrats, whom he accuses of trying to derail his 2024 election campaign.
Presenter: Laura Kyle
Adolfo Franco – Republican strategist and chief counsel to the chairman of the International Relations Committee of the US House of Representatives
Claire Finkelstein – Law and philosophy professor at the University of Pennsylvania and faculty director of the Center for Ethics and the Rule of Law
Rina Shah – Founder of Rilax Strategies, a political and public affairs communications firm
Ivanka Trump breaks silence on her dad’s indictment
Ivanka Trump breaks silence on her dad’s indictment
Presidential historian Tim Naftali discusses Ivanka Trump’s statement about her dad, former President Donald Trump, being indicted by a Manhattan grand jury.
Ivanka Trump has broken her silence on her father’s criminal indictment to say that she is “pained” for both her parent and her country.
Donald Trump’s daughter finally released a brief statement on Instagram just before midday ET on Friday – around 18 hours after a grand jury voted to indict the former president on criminal charges over the 2016 hush money payments to Stormy Daniels.
“I love my father and I love my country. Today I am pained for both,” she wrote.
“I appreciate the voices across the political spectrum expressing support and concern.”
On Thursday 30 March, a Manhattan grand jury voted to indict Mr Trump on criminal charges over hush money payments to adult film star Ms Daniels days just before the 2016 presidential election.
The unprecedented indictment makes Mr Trump the first current or former president to ever face criminal charges in the history of the US.
It is currently unclear what the charges are but multiple reports say that Mr Trump is facing more than 30 counts related to business fraud.
Court officials have confirmed that he will appear in court in Manhattan on Tuesday afternoon for his arraignment.
The indictment is said to have caught Mr Trump off guard after it was announced that the grand jury was taking a weeks-long break from hearing the case.
As soon as the news broke, Mr Trump’s adult sons Eric Trump and Don Trump Jr leaped into action raging against what they described as “third world prosecutorial misconduct”.
“This is third world prosecutorial misconduct,” tweeted Eric. “It is the opportunistic targeting of a political opponent in a campaign year.”
Meanwhile, Don Jr branded it a “weaponization of our Govt against their political enemies” on Twitter before railing against the indictment during a somewhat emotional appearance on his show Triggered with Don Jr that night.
“Let’s be clear, folks, this is like communist-level s***,” he said. “This is stuff that would make Mao, Stalin, Pol Pot, it would make them blush.”
He later shared a tweet from another social media user which sought to claim that his father’s indictment was an attempt to distract from the school shooting which left six victims dead in Nashville earlier this week.
While Don and Eric both raged about the indictment, Ivanka – who worked as a top adviser in Mr Trump’s White House – was silent on the matter for many more hours.
Manhattan prosecutors have been investigating whether Mr Trump falsified the Trump Organization’s business records when his former lawyer and “fixer” Michael Cohen made the payment of $130,0000 to Ms Daniels.
Prosecutors claim that the money was used to silence Ms Daniels about an alleged affair she had with Mr Trump.
Mr Trump has long denied having an affair with the adult film star.
Mr Trump’s former fixer and personal attorney Cohen was convicted of tax evasion, lying to Congress and campaign finance violations related to the payments to Ms Daniels. He was sentenced to three years in prison.
Pakistan’s political heavyweights take their street battles to the courts — as a weary nation looks on
Pakistan’s leaders and the man who wants to unseat them are engaged in high stakes political brinkmanship that is taking a toll on the collective psyche of the nation’s people – and many are exhausted.
As their politicians argue, citizens struggle with soaring inflation against an uptick in militant attacks. In major cities, residents regularly navigate police roadblocks for protests, school closures and internet shutdowns. And in the northern province of Kyber Pakhtunkhua, three people died last Thursday in a stampede to get subsidized bags of flour.
Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif’s government is attempting to unlock billions of dollars in emergency financing from the International Monetary Fund, a process delayed since last November – but some people aren’t prepared to wait.
Government statistics show a surge in the number of citizens leaving Pakistan – up almost threefold in 2022 compared to previous years.
Zainab Abidi, who works in tech, left Pakistan for Dubai last August and says her “main worry” is for her family, who she “really hopes can get out.”
Others, like Fauzia Rashif, a cleaner in Islamabad, don’t have the option to leave.
“I don’t have a passport, I’ve never left the country. These days the biggest concern is the constant expenses. I worry about my children but there really isn’t anywhere to go,” she said.
Experts say the pessimism about the Pakistan’s stability in the months ahead is not misplaced, as the country’s political heavyweights tussle for power.
Maleeha Lodhi, former Pakistan ambassador to the United Nations, Britain and the United States, told CNN the “prolonged and intense nature” of the confrontation between Pakistan’s government and former Prime Minister Imran Khan is “unprecedented.”
She said the only way forward is for “all sides to step aside and call for a ceasefire through interlocutors to agree on a consensus for simultaneous provincial and national elections.”
That solution, however, is not something that can easily be achieved as both sides fight in the street – and in court.
How did we get here?
The current wave of chaos can be traced back to April 2022, when Khan, a former cricket star who founded the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf Party (PTI), was ousted from office in a vote of no confidence on grounds of mismanaging the economy.
In response, Khan rallied his supporters in street protests, accusing the current government of colluding with the military and the United States in a conspiracy to remove him from office, claims both parties rejected.
Khan survived an assassination attempt last November during one of his rallies and has since been beset with legal troubles spearheaded by Sharif’s government. As of March 21, Khan was facing six charges, while 84 have been registered against other PTI workers, according to the central police office in Lahore. However, Khan’s party claims that 127 cases have been lodged against him alone.
Earlier this month, attempts to arrest Khan from his residence in Lahore led to violent clashes with the police and Khan’s supporters camped outside. Khan told CNN the government was attempting to arrest him as a “pretext for them to get out of (holding) elections,” a claim rejected by information minister Mariyam Aurangzeb.
Days later, more clashes erupted when police arrived with bulldozers to clear the supporters from Khan’s home, and again outside Islamabad High Court as the former leader finally complied with an order to attend court.
Interior minister Rana Sanaullah told reporters that the police operation intended to “clear no-go areas” and “arrest miscreants hiding inside.” Human Rights Watch accused the police of using “abusive measures” and urged all sides to show restraint.
What is happening with elections?
General elections are due to be held this October, but Khan has been pushing for elections months earlier. However, it’s not even clear if he’ll be able to contest the vote due to the push by the government to disqualify him.
Disqualification will mean that Khan can’t hold any parliamentary position, become involved in election campaigns, or lead his party.
Khan has already been disqualified by Pakistan’s Election Commission for making “false statements” regarding the sale of gifts sent to him while in office – an offense under the country’s constitution – but it will take the courts to cement the disqualification into law. A court date is still to be set for that hearing.
Yasser Kureshi, author of the book “Seeking Supremacy: The Pursuit of Judicial Power in Pakistan,” says Khan’s “ability to mobilize support” will “help raise the costs of any attempt to disqualify him.”
However, he said if Pakistan’s powerful military – led by government-appointed former spy chief Lt. Gen. Syed Asim Munir, who Khan once fired – is determined to expel the former leader, it could pressure the judiciary to rule him out, no matter how much it inflames Khan’s supporters.
“If the military leadership is united against Khan and committed to disqualifying and purging him, the pressure from the military may compel enough judges to relent and disqualify Khan, should that be the consensus within the military top brass,” said Kureshi, a lecturer in South Asian Studies at the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom.
Qaiser Imam, president of the Islamabad Bar Association, disagreed with this statement. “Political parties, to save their politics, link themselves with certain narratives or perceptions which generally are never found correct,” he told CNN.
The Pakistan Armed Forces has often been blamed for meddling in the democratic process to maintain its authority, but in a statement last November outgoing army chief, Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa, said a decision had been made in February that the military would not interfere in politics.
The army has previously rejected Khan’s claims it had anything to do with purported attempts on his life.
Some say the government’s recent actions have added to perceptions that it’s trying to stack the legal cards against Khan.
This week, the government introduced a bill to limit the power of the Chief Justice, who had agreed to hear a claim by the PTI against a move to delay an important by-election in Punjab, Pakistan’s most populated province, and one considered a marker for the party most likely to win national leadership.
It had been due to be held on April 30, but Pakistan’s Election Commission pushed it to October 8, citing security concerns.
In a briefing to international media last Friday, Pakistan’s Defense Minister Khawaja Asif said the security and economic situation had deteriorated in the past two months, and it was more cost effective to hold the vote at the same time as the general election.
The decision was immediately condemned by Khan as an act that “violated the constitution.”
Lodhi, the former ambassador, has criticized the delay, tweeting that a security threat had been “invoked to justify whatever is politically expedient.”
The PTI took the matter to the Supreme Court, where it’s still being heard.
Some have accused Khan of also trying to manipulate the court system in his favor.
Kureshi said the judiciary is fragmented, allowing Khan to “venue-shop” – taking charges against him from one judge to seek a more sympathetic hearing with another.
“At this time it seems that even the Supreme Court itself is split on how to deal with Imran Khan, which helps him maneuver within this fragmented institutional landscape,” Kureshi said.
What happens now?
The increasing acrimony at the highest level of politics shows no sign of ending – and in fact could prolong the uncertainty for Pakistan’s long-suffering people.
Khan is adamant the current government wants him dead without offering much tangible evidence. And in comments made to local media on Sunday, Sanaullah said the government once viewed Khan as a political opponent but now sees him as the “enemy.”
“(Khan) has in a straightforward way brought this country’s politics to a point where either only one can exist, either him or us. If we feel our existence is being negated, then we will go to whatever lengths needed and, in that situation, we will not see what is democratic or undemocratic, what is right and what is wrong,” he added.
PTI spokesman Fawad Chaudhry said the comments were “offensive” and threatened to take legal action. “The statement … goes against all norms of civilized world,” he said.
Ahmed Bilal Mehboob, the director the Pakistan Institute of Legislative Development and Transparency, says Khan’s popularity gave him “the power to cripple the country,” should he push supporters to show their anger in the street.
However, Mehboob said Khan’s repeated attempts to call for an early election could create even more instability by provoking the government to impose article 232 of the constitution.
That would place the country under a state of emergency, delaying elections for a year.
And that would not be welcomed by a weary public already tired of living in uncertain times.
Correction: This story has been updated to correct the name of Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa, the former army chief.
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