Tuesday, June 10, 2003

Close provincial election in my old New Brunswick stomping grounds last night. The Conservatives eeked out a one-seat victory, though a handful of recounts in tight ridings may quash the celebration. I haven’t watched an election that exciting in Cuba North since the frogs damn near seceded from the Dominion in the fall of ’95 (“Curses! Foiled again!”).

NB is a strange locale for politics. Talk about useless government waste; the place only has 750,000 people, but it elects 55 representatives, each making around $80,000, and they each get full legislative offices, complete with staff. The Premier’s Cabinet usually holds between 20 and 30 members, including those in charge of essential government services, like the “Sports and Recreation Secretariat” and the “Minister Responsible for the Status of Women”.

Oddly enough, nobody back home seems to have a problem with all this graft. To put this into perspective, Arizona, at 5.7 million people, has about the same number of elected officials as NB, yet it functions quite well and has a far leaner bureaucracy.

No quirky political environment would be complete without whiny purveyors of identity politics. The province’s French-speaking population, the Acadiens, fit this role to a "T". To them, sharing the world with the “Anglos” is tantamount to a life in purgatory. They moan ad nauseum over their deported ancestors of 1755 (Oh, please. They were relocated from the harsh winter wasteland of Eastern Canada to balmy Louisiana. Boo-Hoo.), and they demand special privileges and reparations, all because their French protectors couldn’t win a colonial war against the English. They have become as effective at using divisive language politics as the Jesse Jackson/Al Sharpton ilk plays the race card in America. Nobody wins an election in old NB without planting a giant wet kiss on the Giant Frog Arse. Pointing out the lunacy of maintaining separate English and French school systems when the government is struggling with a decades-old recession, skyrocketing healthcare costs, and growing debts would spell instant defeat for a political newcomer in this strange little province.

My fiancée asked me whether I would ever consider going back to give politics a shot. After gagging, I gave the idea some thought for about a millisecond. Frankly, my history of pissing off the uber-sensitive Acadiens with politically incorrect and imprudent questions (Why must I be forced to learn French if I don't plan on living here?) pretty much torched the prospect long ago. New Brunswick will have to deal with its common sense deficit without me.

On completely different matter: MONKEYPOX!


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