Blaine Higgs won the leadership of the Progressive Conservative party at an old age and became the premier of New Brunswick at an old age as well. Like Mr. Higgs, I myself have changed – in this case, my assessment of the man and the leader has changed. As Proust said, “We are not provided with wisdom, we must discover it for ourselves, after a journey through the wilderness which no one else can take for us, an effort which no one can spare us.”
Mr. Higgs is a man of finance by training, but his actions taken during this troubling time do not suggest such a background. A man who won the premiership through the promise of pinching pennies would not be the first suspect for economic stimulus measures or authoritarian measures. Nor would one suspect such a man to join hands with political parties whose sole intent seems to be to spend.
Perhaps this should not be surprising. Conservatives are ideologically adaptable in a way that contemporary liberals or socialists are not, for they are not ideological. It has served the world tremendous good that conservative political parties were willing to join forces with the opposition during times of storm and stress. It was such adaptability that allowed Britain to lead the free world in 1940 to save the world from fascism.
Unlike the current federal government, Higgs’ government did not attempt to grab absolute power. No situation demands that – not war, not health scares, none. It is the virtue of this provincial government that it did not try to take advantage of the crisis for its own good. It is the virtue of Blaine Higgs not to propose such measures, and instead to propose cooperation instead of domination.
If, in the next provincial election, Blaine Higgs is not given the chance to continue as premier of New Brunswick, we at least can look back on this moment with thanks rather than regret. We can say that we had a premier that put people before politics; we can say that we had a leader that put right over vice.