Saturday, April 12, 2008

Strong or just plain stubborn?

Robert MacLeod COMMENTARY Telegraph-Journal
Published Saturday April 12th, 2008
Appeared on page A11

At what point in the life of a losing political issue does a politician move from hoping to appear as a "strong decision-maker" to being just plain arrogant and stubborn?

Let's put this question another way - the Shawn Graham Liberal government made a decision based on research that 21 university professors have described as "crazy." One would think that alone would cause a politician to take a second look at his or her decision.

Although the decision to axe the effective early French immersion program is only a few weeks old, the daily mounting criticism from a wide variety of credible sources is making the silver-tongued Kelly Lamrock look more stubborn and arrogant than strong. From the understandably disappointed parents to the thousands of graduates of the very successful EFI, there is an expected reaction - please don't take away a nationally recognized program that we cherish.

This is not just a Liberal versus Conservative tussle. Very clear evidence of this fact can be found in the long list of Liberals starting to line up against their leader. Prominent Liberals like Donald Savoie, former Louis Robichaud confidante Robert Pichette, and former Liberal cabinet minister Denis Losier have openly cautioned the government about this and other reckless policies.

As the opponents to this decision continue to line up one after another, and as the government continues to brush them off with soaring rhetoric about making "strong decisions," the question looms larger and larger. Who really is being emotional about this decision? As parents and concerned citizens continue to press on with facts and arguments, it is the government that turns a blind eye and by doing so displays their true emotion - they are stubborn.

The fact is that all of these people, Liberals, Progressive Conservatives, New Democrats and unaffiliateds, are appealing directly to the man who could make this whole issue go away, Shawn Graham. As the Premier of New Brunswick, he has the power and should have the ability to intervene, as he did with UNBSJ, and clearly state that he is going to listen to the will of the people and reverse this ill-conceived policy decision. The question is, will he lead?

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