Mar 092013
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Party requests donations for ill-conceived attack ads.

by Stephen Kimber

Few will be surprised to know I’m a financial as well as philosophical supporter of the New Democratic Party. I’ve been making modest, tax-write-off-able, publicly recorded donations since the early 1980s when the provincial party had no MPs and a single MLA.  Giving then seemed more act of charity than political statement.

Times have changed. Federally, the NDP is now the official opposition. And, in Nova Scotia in 2009, the party of the never-wins won majority government.
I still give, though I don’t necessarily – or often — agree with actions of the government that carries my party label.

After he has spent a decade in the legislature, six as Liberal leader, four as leader of the opposition, what do we not know about Stephen MacNeil we didn’t know about Dexter when we made him premier?

But I distinguish between a political party like the NDP, which has the luxury of a consistent, coherent philosophy, and a government like Darrell Dexter’s NDP, which has the messy job of making decisions in a province hobbled by decades of other-party-accumulated debt and a world buffeted by no-one’s-really-in-control-anymore freakynomics.

Most of the time, my convenient party-state fiction works.

But a recent post-Liberal annual meeting, political-is-personal fundraising email from provincial NDP president David Wallbridge gave me pause.

Wallbridge’s email legitimately asked whether the Liberals are still spending 1970s-era, kickbacks-tainted funds to underwrite expenses like their own recent attack ads on the Dexter government.

Calling Liberal lack of transparency “disappointing [and] wrong,” Wallbridge segued: “I guess it’s not surprising.” Cue the ominous, Michael-Ignatieff music. “We don’t know a lot about Stephen McNeil.”

Huh? After a decade in the legislature, six as Liberal leader, four as leader of the opposition, what do we not know about MacNeil we didn’t know about Dexter when we made him premier.

“He hasn’t ever held any leadership or other such job in his life.”

Really? Politics don’t count in politics? Or is this a not-so-subtle swipe at McNeil’s unworthy pre-politics career as a small appliance repair shop owner.

“In fact,” Wallbridge goes on adding stupidity to innuendo, McNeil “had to hire a taxpayer-funded consultant to tell him how to run his political office.”

Uh… isn’t that what leaders should do when they need expertise? Didn’t Dexter hire consultants back in 2009 to tell him what to do about our economic situation?

“We have to fight back,” Wallbridge declared, “and we need your help.”

Press “Donate Now” button.

I’ll pass this time, thanks.

About Stephen Kimber

Stephen Kimber is the Rogers Communications Chair in Journalism at the University of King's College in Halifax. He is an award-winning writer, editor and broadcaster.

His writing has appeared in almost all major Canadian publications including Canadian Geographic, Financial Post Magazine, Maclean's, En Route, Chatelaine, Financial Times, the Globe and Mail, the Toronto Star and the National Post. He has written one novel — Reparations — and six non-fiction books. Website:

© Copyright 2013 Stephen Kimber, All rights Reserved. Written For:

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