Michael Camp: Campaigns marked by political allegations

STU journalism professor Michael Camp analyzes the events that he thought were most notable in the second full week of the New Brunswick election campaign.

NDP Leader Dominic Cardy's patronage allegations may strike a chord with voters

Two allegations against David Alward's Progressive Conservatives caught my attention this week.

One was colourful and direct. The other was by innuendo, one of the darker arts in the world of political persuasion.

NDP Leader Dominic Cardy used a pointed allegation to hammer both of his chief opponents on the issue of patronage. (CBC)
The first came on Thursday when Dominic Cardy laid out the NDP’s platform.

Cardy is doing his best to shake off the perception that the NDP is a party devoted to taxing, spending and racking up big deficits.

He said he didn’t buy the idea that there was anything left wing about driving New Brunswick into bankruptcy.

So before the bank arrives to repossess the car and the furniture, we better straighten things out.

That’s the ‘new’ NDP message.

But I think Cardy’s attack on patronage should connect with a lot of voters — if he can get them to listen.

Who would disagree with this little gem from the party platform?

"Whether it’s a Conservative minister getting the road to a friend’s fishing camp paved while your car bangs over potholes that never seem to get fixed, or your neighbour, a prominent Liberal supporter, who always finds a summer job grant for his children — too often knowing the right people seems to matter more than working hard."

Cardy didn’t name names. His examples were generic rather than specific. But every voter knows it’s the way things have always worked in this province.

If you want a nice job, start by making friends with a politician in power.

Liberal candidate's suspension

The other notable allegation, if you can call it that, was made by Liberal Brian Gallant.

Andrew Harvey, the Liberal candidate in Carleton-Victoria, was suspended on Wednesday after it was learned he was charged with two counts of fraud in July. (CBC)
On the same day Cardy was unveiling his platform, Gallant took a little time off from his usual campaign routines to offer some comfort and support to Andy Harvey.

Gallant suspended Harvey as the Liberal candidate for Carleton-Victoria when it was revealed that he was facing fraud charges.

We don’t know much about the case, other than it involves the Harvey family business and the sale of some wood.

Harvey says he’s innocent. Fair enough. The courts will decide.

But in the meantime, Harvey and the Liberal leader are raising questions about the timing of the charges.

With the cameras rolling, Gallant told reporters they should ask the attorney general of New Brunswick why a Liberal candidate would be charged in July, three years after an alleged offence took place, just as the election campaign was getting into gear.

And if voters hadn’t given this much thought, Gallant apparently thought a little nudge would be in order.

“You’d have to ask the Attorney General as to why it’s been done now,” Gallant said.

“And I’ll certainly allow New Brunswickers to come to their own conclusions as to why it would have popped up now.”

What conclusions would those be?

Would they have anything to do with a politically motivated conspiracy to smear a politician heading into an election campaign?

Gallant, a lawyer by trade, didn’t say he believed that. But he wouldn’t mind if you did. That’s the way innuendo works.

Normally, I would say voters drop and drag this kind of political chatter into the recycle bin and move on. But am I the only person in the province who thinks that a conspiracy to undermine justice for political gain is a serious allegation?

If there’s anything to Gallant’s rather blunt innuendo, why doesn’t he slam on the breaks of his campaign bus, head over to Office of the Attorney General, and demand an explanation? Is he going to let this slide?

Where is the fight in this Liberal leader?

If he doesn’t care about justice, or a possible conspiracy to smear one of his candidates, what does he care about?

About the Author

Michael Camp

Journalism professor

Michael Camp is an associate professor and acting chair of the Department of Journalism and Communications and Public Policy at St. Thomas University in Fredericton. Camp is a former reporter with CBC News and is a regular contributor to the political panel on CBC Radio’s Shift.


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