May says New Brunswick is the next breakthrough province for the Green party


Tara Chislett

The Daily Gleaner

September 15, 2014

As the provincial election campaign enters its final week, the leader of the federal Green party says New Brunswick is being viewed nationally as the next breakthrough province for the party.

Elizabeth May was in Fredericton Sunday afternoon for a rally in support of David Coon, the leader of New Brunswick's Green party, who is running in Fredericton South. More than 100 people showed up for the event, which was held at the iRock club.

May became the first elected Green party member of Parliament in 2011 when she defeated Gary Lunn, the incumbent Conservative MP for Saanich-Gulf Islands in British Columbia.

She said New Brunswick's Green party is about to see the same thing happen.

"The Green party under the amazing leadership of David Coon is about to win," she told the crowd.

"Right now, David Coon is the only candidate in this riding who has any chance of defeating (Progressive Conservative candidate) Craig Leonard."

May said that sense of momentum building in favour of the party has caught attention at the national level.

"That's why we had our convention here. We were here in July both because we love New Brunswick and it's great to gather here, but it was also to make it really clear to New Brunswick voters so they'd notice, 'OK, a lot of people are expecting big things here,'?" she told reporters in an interview after the rally.

"I think that word is spreading, so I wanted to come down and encourage, particularly young people, to get involved, to be sure to get out and vote because this is an election that will change everything in New Brunswick."

May said she wanted to come to New Brunswick during the provincial campaign both to show support for Coon and his team and also to show potential voters its possible for a Green party candidate to win.

"There were so many people who told me I was completely wasting my time to be running against a sitting Conservative cabinet minister in Saanich-Gulf Islands," she said. "My own experience as the breakthrough, I think, gives people to confidence they need to know it can happen."

Judi Day was one of the many supporters who came out to the rally. She said she's voting for the Greens because she's concerned about the future of the province.

"When I see what's going on here with our health care, our education and all of it is consume, consume, consume," she said.

"We're not worried about the future for our children and our grandchildren."

She said she hopes voters will keep that in mind when they go to the polls.

"Say yes to being able to have a life," she said.

Coon agreed.

Addressing the crowd, he said the future of the province depends on going in a new direction and it's important for people to not be afraid to make that move.

"It (fear) causes us not to want to act," he said.

"The other parties, big corporations will continue to take advantage of that fear to their benefit and to our detriment. But you know what? I am not afraid. We're not afraid. We are smart enough and we are brave enough to turn this province around, ladies and gentlemen. ... We can do it, but this is where you come in. Thinking about change is not enough. You have to vote for it."

As New Brunswickers prepare to head to the polls, May said she wanted to discourage voters from the idea of strategic voting out of fear of splitting the vote.

"Your strategic vote is the one you want to cast. You should vote for what you want," she said, noting she thinks the first-past-the-post voting system is flawed. I hate strategic voting as a concept because it makes voting so complicated and I think it drives down voter turnout."