Pre­dictable re­sults

New MLAs face steep learn­ing curve

Cape Breton Post - - EDITORIAL -

Here’s one by-the-num­bers take on Tues­day’s pro­vin­cial by­elec­tions:

Pro­gres­sive Con­ser­va­tives 0; NDP – 1; Lib­er­als – 2; Cape Bre­ton­ers – 3.

Yes, all three newly elected MLAs — Derek Mom­bour­quette, Lib­eral, Syd­ney-Whit­ney Pier; Dave Wil­son, Lib­eral, Cape Bre­ton Cen­tre; and Mar­ian Mancini, NDP, Dart­mouth South — grew up on the right side of the cause­way and, who knows, there may be a con­spir­acy the­ory some­where de­scrib­ing this as an elab­o­rate plot by Cape Bre­ton­ers (in­clud­ing ex-pats) to gain con­trol of the province. One seat (or three seats) at a time. Once enough of them be­come MLAs, they’ll dis­re­gard party af­fil­i­a­tions, join forces and set the province on the right track once and for all.

All kid­ding aside, the re­sults in the two Cape Bre­ton rid­ings don’t come as much of a sur­prise.

The vic­to­ri­ous can­di­dates had fared well in los­ing causes against pop­u­lar in­cum­bents in the 2013 elec­tion.

This time around, with Gordie Gosse and Frank Cor­bett hav­ing re­tired, it was Mom­bour­quette and Wil­son who brought more name recog­ni­tion to vot­ers’ doorsteps. Plus, they car­ried the po­lit­i­cal colours of the party in power. Noth­ing like hav­ing your can­di­date on the same side of the floor as the premier, right?

For the can­di­dates run­ning against them those were two big hur­dles to over­come. Es­pe­cially with the Lib­er­als not hav­ing done much to alien­ate the masses just yet. Sorry, but ma­jor film tax credit cuts don’t gen­er­ate a huge amount of angst in this neck of the woods.

So Mom­bour­quette and Wil­son be­come MLAs 33 and 34 on the Grit hi­er­ar­chy list and they’ll have just over two years to con­sol­i­date their power base be­fore the next pro­vin­cial elec­tion is called. At­tract­ing a gov­ern­ment-sup­ported goodie or two to their rid­ings will help, but it’s a tall or­der in this era of aus­ter­ity.

Mancini, of Glace Bay, will also at­tempt to build on her base in Dart­mouth South, but with her party re­duced to just six MLAs she will no doubt be given added du­ties as the NDP at­tempts to chip away at the Lib­eral ma­jor­ity.

The learn­ing curve will be steep and for all three new MLAs, if they haven’t done so al­ready, we rec­om­mend read­ing Graham Steele’s award-nom­i­nated memoir “What I learned about pol­i­tics: in­side the rise — and col­lapse — of Nova Sco­tia NDP gov­ern­ment.” It’s a real eye-opener and a sober­ing look at a sys­tem that clearly needs an over­haul.

Our three new MLAs will also dis­cover that it’s one thing to get elected and be­come an ef­fec­tive con­stituency politi­cian. That’s the best way of keep­ing your job for a cou­ple of terms or more.

But it’s quite another to help bring about real change in a province in dire need of politi­cians with the courage and vi­sion to see the big pic­ture and act on be­half of the greater good.

Time will tell what level they are able to rise to.

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