DAVID COON, GREEN PARTY LEADER AND ELECTED MLA
Who is David Coon?
David Coon is Leader of the Green Party of New Brunswick, seeking re-election as the MLA for Fredericton South. He is campaigning to return to the Legislature with a strong caucus of Green MLAs to bring effective government to New Brunswickers.
What are the major planks of David and the Green’s campaign?
David’s campaign represents a positive agenda of renewal, built around compassionate and community-based solutions to make New Brunswick better. He wants to improve care for our children and our seniors, improve access to health care, alleviate poverty, make us more self-sufficient in food and renewable energy, build a caring and green economy, reconcile with First Nations, and immunize politics from cronyism and corporate influence.
What does David do now?
He’s the MLA for Fredericton-South – the first Green MLA to be elected in New Brunswick, currently serving his first term in the Legislative Assembly. He was elected in 2014, defeating a sitting cabinet minister. Prior to becoming Leader of the New Brunswick Green Party in 2012, he was the Executive Director of the Conservation Council, a provincial non-profit.
What does it mean that David is Green?
Green is the colour of renewal. David wants to see hope renewed in New Brunswick, for everyone.
Being Green means believing in the power of community to create change for the better. David believes that we need to unleash the wisdom and ingenuity of our communities to tackle the social, economic and environmental challenges we face.
Greens are about hope and vision, not anger and despair. David believes that there is nothing wrong with New Brunswick, that we cannot fix with what is right with New Brunswick. The provincial government has to stop longing for deliverance from our particular challenges from elsewhere. Instead, it must work as a partner with our communities to support local aspirations. Change starts here, at home.
Greens believe the government has an obligation to safeguard and empower families and communities while protecting the environment, but it is the power of community that determines our quality of life.
Being Green means David thinks long-term, in terms of generations, not in 4-year election cycles. Ensuring the well-being of our children and seniors, achieving a healthier population, reconciling with First Nations, reviving rural communities, strengthening our local economies, realizing the ability to feed ourselves with local food, replacing our dependency on fossil fuels with renewable energy, reversing the degradation of our forests – all require time, vision, and determination. Liberals and Tories allow themselves to be captured by private and political interests. Governments thinking only of the next election campaign has paralyzed New Brunswick. David believes a strong caucus of Greens elected to the Legislative Assembly will give our democratic system the jolt it needs to better serve all citizens of our province.
David’s Life before Politics
David was born to Charles Coon and Iris Page, the oldest of three children. Charles began his career as a small town journalist but ended up working in public relations to support his family. Iris was a public health nurse who became a stay-at-home mom, before returning to her vocation when she became a single-parent. She was raised on a small mixed farm, where David’s grandmother ensured his Mother would be able to attend university by saving the income that she earned from egg sales to pay for Iris’ tuition.
“The time I spent on my grandparents’ farm was formative for me. From a very young age, you were expected to participate in the work of the farm, whether it was gathering sap from the sugar bush in the spring or bagging grain on the combine during harvest.”
David graduated from high school with the intent of pursuing a career in science. He was fascinated with learning how things worked, whether it was technology, human physiology, or politics. He earned a Bachelor of Science from McGill University where he studied ecology, sprinkled with some neuroscience.
It was at university that David developed an interest in environmental advocacy. “I just couldn’t square the respect my grandfather taught me for the ability of the natural world to sustain us with food, drinking water, clean air, and energy, with the absolute disregard for nature embedded in outdated approaches to economics and politics.”
David went on to a 33-year career in environmental advocacy and education, most of it with the Conservation Council of New Brunswick, based in Fredericton.
What about his family?
David met his wife, Janice in 1984. She was born and raised in Seal Cove on Grand Manan, the daughter of Mansell and Estella Harvey. Mansell was a fisherman, who later managed the local Connors’ Brothers sardine factory. Estella was a bookkeeper, who also worked in the sardine factory.
Janice graduated from the University of New Brunswick with a Bachelor of Education. While she started her career as a public school teacher, teaching jobs were scarce, so she took on the job of Executive Director at the Conservation Council of New Brunswick. She went on to establish and manage the organization’s marine conservation program and founded the Fundy Baykeeper. After returning to UNB in 2006, she earned a Masters degree and Ph.D. She has taught at St. Thomas University since 2009.
Janice and David have two daughters. Caroline is studying at the Randolph College of Performing Arts and Laura is pursuing a Bachelor of Arts at St. Thomas University.
How did he get into politics?
Over a career that spanned more than three decades, David was very much involved in developing and advocating for public policies that would better protect and restore the natural world within which we live.
David has always been an avid follower of politics, recalling the arrival of Pierre Trudeau in Ottawa as Minister of Justice. “As a 12-year-old, Trudeaumania was everywhere. My Mother went to work for the local Liberal candidate in the federal election that saw Pierre Trudeau become Prime Minister. He spoke about the need to bring about a just society in Canada, and that resonated with me. I met him years later when I was in my early twenties, but at that time I had absolutely no interest in becoming involved in partisan politics.”
It was after the election of long-time friend and colleague Elizabeth May to the leadership of the federal Green Party, that David first began seriously thinking about getting into politics.
“It didn’t seem to me that we were being well served by any of the old-line parties in New Brunswick. Retaining or gaining political power has taken precedence over bettering the lives of the people of our province. Governments are no longer engaging with their citizens to advance the common good, rather they have become obsessed with manipulating public opinion to hold onto power. The priorities of governments today are far removed from the priorities of New Brunswickers and their communities.”
In 2008, David was elected as a member of the federal Green Party’s governing council. In 2012, David won the leadership of the Green Party at the Fredericton Convention Centre and began organizing for the next election in 2014. He made history, on September 22, 2014, being elected in the riding of Fredericton South as the first Green MLA in New Brunswick. The Greens fielded candidates in 46 out of 49 ridings, earning 6.6 percent of the popular vote.
What has David been fighting for in the Legislature?
In the Legislature, David has championed the concerns of his constituents for timely access to health care, for greater use of nurse practitioners, midwives, and pharmacists, and for better mental health care for youth. He proposed laws to create jobs in local food production and agriculture, and in energy efficiency and green energy. His bill to ensure all public school students learn about the history of the relationship with indigenous peoples in New Brunswick passed unanimously into law. David has been relentless in his advocacy for a Legislative Assembly that operates without interference from the Premier and his cabinet. His motion to define the roles and responsibilities of MLAs resulted in the creation of a code of conduct that has been incorporated into the Standing Rules of the Legislative Assembly. A full account of David’s work in the Legislative Assembly is available at www.davidcoonmla.ca
Where does David stand on the important issues our Province faces?
First and foremost, David stands for a government that is an open book, that refuses to have its strings pulled by private or political interests. “As an MLA, I am elected to represent all the people in my riding, and that is how I do my job. A Green government would be no different.”
David wants to see fairness and compassion brought back to the government, where civil servants are required to wear their human hat, not a bureaucratic one.
He is a firm believer in localizing decision-making about health care, education, economic and social development, and resource management.
David believes the future of both urban and rural economies rests with our ability to replace more imported goods and services with locally produced ones and to successfully make the energy transition to energy efficiency and green renewable sources.
He wants to tackle poverty head-on through the replacement of income assistance with a basic income guarantee.
David sees the decentralization of healthcare decision-making as essential to improving access to care and emphasizing prevention and health promotion. Just as important, is the need to rapidly integrate nurse practitioners, midwives and pharmacists into the Medicare system.
What’s does David do outside of politics?
David loves to listen to music. His family and extended family are very musical. His grandfather and uncle recorded two albums of hymns and spirituals. His brother is an accomplished jazz musician, and his sister is a well-respected flute teacher. David’s gifts lay elsewhere, so needless to say he has provided an appreciative audience for his family members from a young age. He is a member of the Wilmot United Church, where he volunteers at the Saturday night drop-in to serve supper. He enjoys cycling around Fredericton and tending a vegetable garden when time permits.