Grits get failing grade

Published Thursday September 16th, 2010

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Coalition report cards favour NDP, Greens

BY GREG WESTON
TIMES & TRANSCRIPT STAFF

FREDERICTON - With the provincial election just 12 days away, the Coalition of New Brunswickers released its final round report cards yesterday and there was bad news for the party seeking re-election.

"We're very pleased to announce that we have been successful in creating a dialogue with the political parties," said Tom Mann, one of the co-ordinators.

 

The democratic watchdog group, which evolved out of the movement opposed to the proposed sale of NB Power to Hydro-Québec, has been grading the five official parties on their commitment to ideals of good government, based on each one's submissions in areas such as public participation, government ethics and MLA code of conduct.

There were no changes in grades from the previous month, leaving the NDP and Green Party at the top of the class with a B .

"(The NDP has) proposed an open-government concept that promotes a government that's transparent and participatory, promoting accountability of elected officials and provide citizens with information that they have a right to know," he said.

"(The Green Party's) primary election principle is, theme one, building a real democracy. That's what New Brunswickers want to be engaged in. They don't want to be engaged in politics as usual, because there's no place for them."

The NDP and Greens also got top marks for pledging to move towards electoral reform, proposing a mixed-member proportional system that would better assign seats in the legislature to reflect the number of votes cast.

Coming in a close third with a B was the Progressive Conservative Party, which committed to ideas such as holding regular open meetings with constituents, mandating government departments to hold town hall meetings, holding cabinet meetings around the province and making a permanent referendum act.

The ruling Liberals received a failing grade in the final evaluation, with an F overall. They received a failing grade in all categories except for public participation, in which they were given a D.

"It became very apparent from the very beginning that one party - the Liberals - said 'we're not going to change anything because it works for us,'" Mann said.

For the second month, the People's Alliance of New Brunswick did not complete their submission, meaning they stayed at their previous F status. However, Mann pointed out that the party did, in its initial offering, propose a handful of reforms to promote transparency in government.

With the pre-election exercise now complete, Mann said the group will focus on holding the victor of the election to account once it takes office. He said the coalition will continue to provide updates on the new government's progress towards their promised reforms.

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