Jack MacDougall's 'off-Broadway' campaign

08 SEPTEMBER 2010

Profile: Green Party leader was once a top organizer for the Liberal Party - and he was in it to win. This time, it's different

By Philip Lee from the Telegraph-Journal

FREDERICTON - Jack MacDougall likes to joke that his life is all about showbiz. Every year he finds himself participating in either a play or a political campaign.

He's a lover of amateur theatre, and for much of his adult life he was a star political organizer for the Liberal Party in New Brunswick.

 

This year it's another campaign, and he's won an onstage role as leader of the Green Party.

The difference this year is that he's directing a production that is a radical departure from the kind of politics he's always done. That's because now he's in it for something other than the applause and winning reviews.

"I call our campaign an off-Broadway campaign," he says, throwing his head back and laughing.

For a man who has an encyclopedic knowledge of New Brunswick politics, and who can organize and execute a vote identification and delivery plan in his sleep, he's enjoying every minute of his return to public life.

MacDougall, 57, has played a variety of roles in his life because he can do many things well, and he's fearless and sometimes impulsive. He's also honest to a fault. That honesty was what sent him into the political wilderness in 1999, and then to the Green Party in 2009.

For most of his life in politics, MacDougall was on the winning side, except in his final two campaigns with the Liberals, when Camille Theriault lost in spectacular fashion to Bernard Lord's Tories in the spring of 1999, and again when Theriault lost the leadership of the party to Shawn Graham in 2002.

By the time he ran for the leadership, he was already a party outsider. Several weeks after the 1999 campaign, MacDougall spoke to a newspaper reporter about the missteps that led to the Liberals' stunning defeat, including the decision to call a spring election at all, which any student of New Brunswick politics knows is pure folly.

"I knew it was going south," he says. "I predicted it was going south. I was begging them not to do what they were going to do. They took it as negativism. I took it as driving a car around a corner I've already been around and I know there is a boulder there."

A story based on MacDougall's comments was published in a newspaper, and he immediately found himself on the outs with the party. In politics, loyalty is valued above all else. To read the complete article access the Telegraph-Journal here...

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