Which Side is the Premier On?

by Dana — last modified 2008-10-29T09:49:40-04:00 Copyright Dana Brown, 2008
As leader of the official opposition in 2005, Shawn Graham made a commitment to establish a public auto insurance system in New Brunswick. It seems that this priority has fallen off the Liberal agenda once in power. This pledge to provide public auto insurance wasn't just an empty promise of its leader, it was and still is the will of the Party as it was passed as a resolution at the New Brunswick Liberal Party Biennial Convention in 2005.

In the spring of 2007 Premier Shawn Graham commissioned an independent actuarial study, (Oliver Wynman Report) which concluded that New Brunswick driver's paid in excess of 500 million dollars in premiums more than claims paid out. This money, in excess of one-half billion dollars is trucked out of New Brunswick and into the coffers of multinational insurance companies in Upper Canada, Europe and the United States.

The all-party Select Committee on Public Auto Insurance, one which Elizabeth Weir, T. J. Burke, Roland Haché, Kelly Lamrock and others others sat on, recommended a public auto insurance system for New Brunswick. The Committee found that public insurance would deliver significantly lower rates for all of New Brunswick, as well as provide comprehensive coverage. The Committee also found that it would generate an economic impact of $275 Million by its second year of operation. Public auto insurance would stop the hemorrhage of hard-earned New Brunswick dollars from flowing to the coffers of the mega-rich in Toronto and Connecticut. Instead that money could be kept in New Brunswick to fund our schools and hospitals. We need that money here in New Brunswick, now more than ever.

When then Premier Bernard Lord rejected the public auto insurance proposal in 2004, Shawn Graham joined Elizabeth Weir in condemning the Conservative government for their short sightedness and irrationality. Shawn Graham even accused Lord of being in the pockets of insurance companies. Graham was quoted in the Telegraph Journal saying, "How can you trust them? Bernard Lord has chosen to defend the interest of the insurance companies, we have chosen to defend the interest of New Brunswickers." Two years later it appears that the Liberal government has chosen not to defend the interests of New Brunswickers. And now that Shawn Graham is Premier, he has declared the public auto insurance question to be over. It raises one question in the public's mind: Which side are you on Premier Graham?

Over 32 years of public auto insurance in Manitoba tells us that this is the right way to go. Manitobans pay the lowest insurance premiums in the country and their public system has generated $1 billion in investment in the public infrastructure. Public auto insurance just makes sense, especially in New Brunswick where the government tells us we have to reduce public services because we don’t have enough money. We'll never move towards Self Sufficiency unless we actually change and replace outdated systems with tried and true alternatives. New Brunswickers are ready for change, all we need is leadership and courage to stand up to the private insurance industry.

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