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Tensions are rising at the Highway 126 anti-fracking camp near Elsipogtog First Nation in Kent County, New Brunswick (traditional regional name: the Wabanakik). With the total number of arrests climbing from 17 to 29 on Friday, National Aboriginal Day -- and the heat of last weekend's confrontation, which led to the hospitalization of a community member, still heavy in the air -- a sense of momentum is palpable.
The Atlantic premiers did two big things at their meeting last weekend. They basically called the Harper government incompetent, having constructed labour market policies on the basis of "anecdotes" and no evidence.
And for the first time in more than a generation -- apart from Newfoundland's mercurial former premier, Danny Williams -- someone from these parts has said "boo" to the federal government.
Twice the same day recently I heard this, spoken in dismissive rage: "That idiot, Harper" and "that fool in Ottawa."
In my decades watching politics, I've found that tone of voice is more indicative of political fortune than either polls or rational argument.
One speaker was a fisherman, angry at ham-fisted fishery management reforms, the other a guy who fixes houses for sale and had just been told by his bank manager that uncertainty over EI changes made an already catastrophic real estate market in Western Nova Scotia even worse.
Both probably voted for Harper last time, and neither thinks much about politics -- the type of "Tim Horton's crowd" voter the Conservatives target.
Budget time is approaching in Nova Scotia, as elsewhere. Not just any budget time, but that special variety that precedes an election (this fall, I'd guess). You can usually tell by the tension in the media/political complex. The government is preparing for the buckets of vitriol that will fall on its head when it announces that it can't balance the budget this year as promised, and there's a howl over a $27-million accounting error in last year's budget.