jenna morton she said times transcript

Attack Politics Should be Under Attack

Premier Brian Gallant makes more than $150,000 a year as premier of this province.

That actually doesn’t sound like a huge paycheque for all that the job consumes his life; even his wedding was considered a news event to be covered. (And that’s the base salary, not factoring in other perks and so on.) But still, for most New Brunswickers, a salary like that is a pipe dream.

So is the salary Blaine Higgs earned previously in the corporate sector and currently as a Member of the Legislature. And yet, the Liberals are trying to position Gallant and his government as for the people, while attacking Higgs for his corporate career.

Guess what? Every politician in this province makes tens of thousands of dollars a year more than the average New Brunswicker. When the people to whom you are speaking see you as the 1%, bickering over who got there in a better way is pointless. Personally, I don’t think anyone really cares.

Most people in this province spend each day worrying how they’re going to feed their family. Wondering how they can find a long-term job that offers more than a paycheque-to-paycheque existence. Waiting to access services like diagnostic tests and mental health supports.

Stop flinging dirt about who worked for who or who has the more impressive resume. Show true leadership by focusing on solutions, not pointing fingers at who messed up what to get us here.

I was truly disappointed to see that the New Brunswick Liberal Party created a website specifically targeting Blaine Higgs. The site is typical political fare, highlighting quotes and positions that are seen as trigger points. It’s a strategy that’s as old as politics itself, so we shouldn’t be surprised, I guess. But I want better for us, New Brunswick.

There’s much being made of the fresh-face versus old-school stereotypes in the rhetoric. I can’t imagine the Liberal attacks on Blaine Higgs’ age are meant to appeal to seniors; Higgs is only 63 years old. His peers tend to be the largest voting group in the country. Yes, if he wins, he will be oldest person elected premier in New Brunswick. So what? Maybe the #notforyou message is targeting millennials; I’m on the cusp of that group (dubbed Xennials as of late), and it certainly doesn’t appeal to me. It sounds ageist and desperate. Similarly, let’s not talk about the fact Gallant remains the youngest premier in the country at age 35 or only had a brief non-political career. Frankly, I don’t think a lot of people care how old either of these men are or who they used to work for. They care about what’s happening in their own lives and how either of these leaders, or any of the other party heads, can impact that.

Politicians, don’t spend your time creating attack websites and arguing which person in the 1% can better represent a province with the lowest median income in the country. Step outside the bubble of politics in which you now exist. Spend time with the people who are so busy trying to survive today that they can’t even start to think about the impacts of wage parity or income tax breaks.

We need to change. And I don’t just mean change who is in power. We need to change the way we approach political campaigns. Attacking each other is not advancing the issues. We try to teach our children to work together, to build on each other’s strengths, to be kind. Let’s set a proper example, shall we? Let’s pull together and find some real solutions to the problems that are facing our 99%.

A version of this post appeared originally in the Times & Transcript. Click here for more She Said columns.

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