Fredericton — Hey, ’90s kids: remember sipping on a cool bottle of transparent cola while watching Rocko’s Modern Life on YTV? Or maybe listening to the latest Jane’s Addiction CD while slamming your kini into a stack of POGs? Or snacking on some Dunkaroos while wondering whether Arch Pafford (pictured) was going to be elected MLA as leader of the anti-francophone New Brunswick Confederation of Regions Party?
But with clear soft drink Crystal Pepsi returning from the limbo of discontinued-but-beloved snack products from the ’90s, plus Red Hot Chili Peppers and Garth Brooks currently reigning as the hottest touring acts in the world and a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles sequel recently dominating the theatrical box office, it’s definitely starting to feel a lot like 1991 around New Brunswick once again. This is leading some speculators to ask: what better time for a return of the CoR Party?
“Prior to the 1991 provincial election, the CoR was viewed as a fringe party, mostly backed by elderly New Brunswickers,” explained St. Thomas University political science adjunct professor Herman Brzezinski at a lecture Tuesday night. “In fact, I remember there used to be a joke going around, ‘What has 20 legs and 14 teeth? A CoR rally.’ But they managed to attain 21.2 percent of the vote that year, largely because of their promise to overturn the 1969 Official Languages Act and make the province monolingual again.
“I never thought I’d hear their name again,” he added, “but then again I never thought they’d bring back Twin Peaks. I’m so stoked for that.”
Despite the CoR Party’s vows to restore the primacy of English in New Brunswick, the party was, ironically, undone by schisms within its own ranks, with a lengthy squabble over the leadership of the party from 1992-94 causing its membership to shrink from 20,000 to 5,000 before eventually dissolving formally in 2002.
“It’s a shame, because the CoR Party was completely ahead of its time,” said Gary Branden, a mechanical press operator from Shediac. “Now you’ve got the Brexit vote, you got Trump talking about building a wall… CoR was on the cutting edge of being the voice of the alienated, resentful members of the white, English-speaking majority. Voting for the CoR was the ultimate way of telling the francophone community to ‘Talk to the hand.’”
Still, others aren’t as convinced. “We need to be careful what we wish for,” said Moncton-based media analyst Jacques Canuel. “Just because something was briefly popular in the ’90s doesn’t mean we should be nostalgic for it. Look where that kind of thinking got us: Fuller House is now the most popular show in Netflix history. They’re bringing back Ecto-Cooler Hi-C which was completely grody. After all, people in Europe who apply for most entry-level jobs have to be fluent in English and French, plus Spanish and German. Maybe as New Brunswickers we just need to set the bar higher for ourselves?”
Canuel then paused to take a sip from a glass of Crystal Pepsi. “Boys, that’s refreshing. Remember OK Soda? I hope they bring that back next. That’d be totally radical.”