Is it 2013? Let the campaign begin…

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Forget this year’s faux feints and fevered fantasies. Two thousand and thirteen will be the year we get to pass electoral judgment on the government of Darrell Dexter.

Will we decide, on balance and measured against his less-than-stellar competition, that Dexter has earned a second majority term? Or will we, seeing more potential than performance in the past four years, rein him in, giving Dexter a second minority-government chance to make a better first impression? Or will we decide electing a first-ever NDP government was as historic a mistake as it was a milestone, and consign it to history’s dustbin?

Except for the most rabid of partisans—the my-party-right-or-wrong NDPers and their sky-is-falling-socialist-hordes counterparts—the choice will not be easy.

There are too many intriguing issues for one column but let’s start with economics.

The NDP inherited a fiscal mess mostly of its predecessor’s making, a global economic meltdown beyond its control and, worst, the ticking demographic time bomb of an aging, under-educated population.

None of those big-picture problems could have been overcome in a single electoral term by any party.

The NDP’s signature fiscal accomplishment—presuming they can pull it off—will be to have brought the province’s books back to balance in four years without completely devastating a precarious economy. No mean feat.

But the trick for the government now will be to convince its traditional base those against-the-grain sacrifices were necessary to allow for future social investment while reassuring those independents who voted for it in 2009 that that doesn’t mean a return to runaway spending.

The NDP’s broader economic development strategy has been the doomed-to-disappointment, tried-and-failed strategy Nova Scotia governments have touted since the days of Robert Stanfield: Dream big—and pray. Daewoo, IBM, Cooke Aquaculture, Irving Shipbuilding, the Lower Churchill… Throw the Hail-Stanfield pass…

The good news is the government has coupled those gambles with investments in training that—should they pay off—will keep more young people in the province. The bad news is that most of the bets will not pay off—and the government will have sacrificed other significant assets (gobs of public money, the environment) in the process.

No easy choices indeed. Let the campaigning begin. Happy New Year!

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Copyright 2012 Stephen Kimber, Website
  1. Dexter has focused almost exclusively on catering to rural bluenosers (see pulp and paper mill actions). And yet fails even there: isn’t there still a rusted out ship on a beach in Cape Breton? Also, balancing the budget was and is an unnecessary task. When govt spends money there are spinoff effects that increase GDP. With almost no other industry here to replace that spending where does Dexter’s team of fools think money will come from? Trees, apparently. We’re gonna chop down all our trees and turn them into “biofuels” to be sold everywhere else. I don’t care who the competition is, I’m not voting NDP.

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  2. I have thrown rocks for three years, at the Dexter gov. I have not been impressed. I think they have no vision, BUT, now that the time is coming for voting, I will be voting NDP again. Not because they are my party through and through. . . but because I do not see any other choice. I wish we had a party that was further left, more democratic, with more vision – but apparently we have the field that we have — and from that field. . . there is no other choice. Jamie Baillie is truly crazy, MacNeil appears to have no vision either, and sometimes makes the wrong choice just to be against whatever Darrell is doing, showing great judgement. Hoping that the NDP, will take a new mandate if we vote them back in, and do something bold and innovative – I think they are scared to move from the “usual” path in case they don’t get elected, again. But they are the absolute best of a bad bunch — no doubt in my mind. I thought I would vote but not work for them but already I am concerned about the province if it is either of the others. . . so I will also be working for the NDP and my public endorsement starts here! it is not so much from what they have done, as from what they did NOT do. . . they did not tear up contracts, or decimate health care or education. They did not stop workers from trying to to bargain and most things they did were in the right direction – that is, they increased welfare rates (but not enough to make much of a difference) they increased funding to transition houses (see above!) they tried to save jobs (hapless but right intent) and they thought about the environment. They did not privatize anything. . . I think that they felt hamstrung from the economy — all that said – I will vote for ’em again!

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