Saint John — Harold Blanchard is still holding out hope that his absence is making the prime minister’s heart grow fonder. In another shocking personal frustration, the local retiree was passed over again for an appointment to the Senate of Canada late last week. Despite years of public service as a government critic, the Saint John senior is still optimistic that he still just might be the next in line for a seat in the red chamber.
“When they said on the news that Senate appointments were going to be announced, I’m not going to lie to you — I got my hopes up,” said Blanchard. “Unfortunately, it wasn’t my time again. But, like the boys at the coffee shop said, what do you expect from this government?”
The 71-year-old political pundit, now retired from his job at the Port of Saint John, spends up to 2 to 3 hours per day discussing every branch of government at the municipal, provincial and federal level with his other retired peers at the Waterloo Street Tim Hortons. “We call ourselves the ‘Coffee Club,’” laughed Blanchard. “We meet daily for a coffee or two and we argue and debate about every piece of news on the government. It can get quite heated some days, especially if George is cranky… that old coot,” he winked.
Each day after Coffee Club, Blanchard returns home and composes letters to politicians to share his thoughts and advice. The targets of his well-intentioned wisdom are ward councilors, city staff, the mayor, local MLAs and MPs, letters to the editor of the newspaper, provincial and federal cabinet ministers, CBC, as well as the premier and prime minister themselves. The following day, he brings the letters to his morning meeting to read them aloud to his cohorts.
Blanchard says that the biggest difference in his punditry occurred when he transitioned from letter-writing using pen and paper to email over 10 years ago. “I was able to increase my volume of letters by 4 to 5 times per day. I don’t want to toot my own horn, but it’s safe to say that nowadays I’m very well-known in the offices of a lot of politicians,” he beamed.
With two New Brunswick vacancies remaining to be filled, Blanchard is still holding out hope that his time is at hand. “I’ve got a few good years left, and I’d be willing to spend them in Ottawa serving my country,” he offered. “Anyways since I retired, my wife says that I’m spending too much time sitting around the house complaining, so this would make both us of happy I think.”