In her book The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism, Canadian author Naomi Klein describes how right-wing governments use a disaster to create and ramp-up misinformation and fear-mongering.
Is Blaine Higgs guilty of applying the shock doctrine in New Brunswick, using the pandemic to further his political goals? If so, can we make a citizen’s arrest?
A key tactic of right-wing governments in a crisis is to worsen or compound the problem by withholding aid as a means of making the situation worse.
Not discussed or exposed by New Brunswick journalists, which begs another question entirely, Blaine Higgs has left federal COVID-19 relief funding “on the table,” untouched, for public transit, public housing and infrastructure, payroll wage subsidy, and, other areas – all funds the federal government had allocated to help New Brunswickers.
The willful refusal to accept these public funds by this leader of a party seeking public office is, I believe, an attempt to worsen the COVID-19 crisis and further marginalize the most vulnerable members of our communities. To my knowledge, no other premier has refused these public monies.
Another good example of a second shock doctrine tactic right-wing governments employ in a crisis is being used on our neighbours to the south. To hamper a credible election process this fall, the president is hamstringing the US Postal Service. This is called voter suppression.
Elections NB, under direction or duress, has seen fit to relocate the polling station where I normally vote in Moncton East, around the corner from my home and in pretty much the dead centre of the riding, to an exclusive golf and country clubhouse at the privately-owned Royal Oaks, a full 10.8 km drive from my home.
The decision not to hold polls at the Crossman Community Centre / Kay Arena was not, in fact, made by the City of Moncton as one might assume, but rather by Superior Propane Centre, a private company. Who owns it? This private company holds the contract for all bookings and rentals of City of Moncton property.
Of course I wonder if this privately-owned company is responsible for encouraging Elections NB to favour a private entity rather than see the revenue from the election property rental go to the coffers of the owners of the Arena, the City of Moncton? Is this not voter suppression?
Finally, has Blaine Higgs utilized the snap election itself as a mechanism of the shock doctrine? The fact that the authority of governance shifted in 2018 from the Liberal Party under Brian Gallant in September, to the Progressive Conservatives under Blaine Higgs in November, demonstrates the responsiveness to challenges of the minority. Calling an election now is evidence that the minority mandate the electorate gave MLAs in 2018 has been undermined.
In 2018, electors gave MLAs the responsibility of governing for four years by purposefully not choosing one party to form a majority. Electors said, “We are electing you, go figure it out and make it work.”
The nine pieces of legislation, no doubt representing hundreds of hours of work, that died on the order paper on Aug. 17 when Higgs called the election, is evidence of the intent of purpose of both the minority system and the positive and cohesive attitude of many MLAs sitting on various sides of the Legislative Assembly.
The best way to “arrest” Blaine Higgs is to collectively, peacefully and determinedly ‘throw’ him out of office on Sept. 14. If he is not a majority premier the next day, he will quickly allow retirement to overtake him.
Let’s ‘arrest’ him in the best sense of the word…arrest…by putting a stop to the undeniable use of the shock doctrine! If all this has shaken down in a minority situation, what will be our fate if the province hands him a majority?
Let’s expose the well-hidden Progressive Conservative “plan” which is far from in the best interests of the people in our beautiful province. It’s time to turn the corner on the last 40 miserable years of political life in New Brunswick. We can do it!
Leslie Chandler is a writer and activist in Moncton.