It's been little more than a month since I was elected leader. As promised, I hit the ground running and haven't looked back. The office is up and running, thanks to the help of Susan Smissaert and Katie O'Rourke. Volunteers are maintaining regular office hours.
I have already visited Miramichi and made two trips to Moncton, participating in summits on poverty and local food. And I've been to the Legislature to be briefed by the Deputy Clerk on the status and work on the various Legislative Committees. My intention is to observe question period on a daily basis so I am able to comment in the media.
An effective communications strategy is essential for us to reach New Brunswickers so they get to know us better. I am attending government news conferences, such as the ones where the recent shale gas reports were released, to provide the Green Party perspective. We are issuing a news release on a weekly basis. Every month I am submitting commentaries to the provincial newspapers.
To stay in touch, make sure you "friend" my Facebook page athttp://www.facebook.com/david.coon.9237 or follow me on Twitter @davidccoon. Be sure to like the Green Party Facebook page as well at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Green-Party-of-New-Brunswick. I am also doing a monthly podcast with Green Party volunteer Marc Leger which will be linked to these sites. And of course, we have begun the publication of our monthly newsletter with the help of volunteer Ayesha Ali.
Our effectiveness depends on a strong network of volunteers to take on every imaginable task from staffing the office to providing advice on health policy. We have already canvassed the Fredericton-area members and have a volunteer team meeting at the office. The next step is to canvas the full membership to see what skills and expertise might be available across the province.
I have been working to strengthen the membership in our "shadow cabinet" and am already working with a number of our advocates to develop strategies for advancing our policies. Jim Wolstenholme, our health advocate, is working up a proposal for health reform based on current policies. As part of this effort, we are meeting with advocates for kid's mental health and community health centres. Andy Secord, a Fredericton-based economist, is our new finance advocate and has been providing advice on natural resource royalties.
Party finances have benefited from the launch of our Green Century Donors appeal, which was launched at the leadership convention, and followed up with a mail-out to our full membership.
The election is less than two years away, so I have begun speaking to potential candidates and to those who ran in the last election for the Green Party. One of the best ways to volunteer for the Green Party at the local level is to participate in Riding District Association's activities. If there isn't an RDA in you riding, why not get together with one or two other members and start one. I can help get you started.
The Provincial Council is responsible for the governance of the Green Party, and as leader I automatically become a member. To date, I have participated in two Provincial Council meetings.
As I am out and about, I am being very warmly received by New Brunswickers who continually tell me that the time is right for a real alternative to the other parties. They are looking to the Green Party for a fresh approach and their expectations of us are high. We won't let them down.