Green Party Leader David Coon was in Nigadoo at noon today to present the mandate of the Department of Rural Affairs and Community Development and its strategy towards internet access for all regions of New Brunswick.
According to David Coon, development must be thought in the light of the climate emergency. "The economic recovery plan must be part of the solution rather than adding to the problem. The recovery must be green and fair," he said at a press conference. Supported by provincial funding and appropriate policies, he said local and regional communities will need to chart their own course, building on their unique assets, culture and territory.
This new department will be responsible for developing and implementing a regional development policy, support for renewable energy production and the protection and development of agricultural land.
"This department will operate with a decentralized structure and decision-making authority to support regional development and will be financially supported through the Northern Fund, which we will re-establish with other funds specific to the needs of the regions," said the Green leader. "New Brunswickers want to be more self-sufficient and we can. All we need to do is tap into the creativity and vital energy that already exists in our communities. »
The Green platform also tackles the glaring problem of internet access in rural areas, highlighted by the pandemic. "All regions of the province must have access to quality internet service. We will accelerate our efforts to provide high-speed Internet access to all New Brunswick citizens and businesses," said Coon. To achieve this, he plans to require Internet providers to submit a solid action plan within the next six months and to have it in place within a year. If they fail to provide a concrete plan, "we are prepared to create a crown corporation to provide Internet access to all regions of our province. The time for half-measures is over. It is time for action," said Coon.
By David Coon
COVID-19 has tested us in ways that we haven’t been for generations. New Brunswickers have shown immense personal strength through these times. Poet Fred Cogswell captured this in his poem, appropriately entitled New Brunswick.
“Not soft soil where we root together,” Cogswell wrote. But “To grow up slow and endure for long . . .All our beauty is our stubborn strength,” he concluded.
As I have travelled the province this summer, I have been reminded how we are rooted together in this place by geography, history, and our stubborn strength.
During a meeting with Chief Bill Ward in Metepenagiag, he told me that his community had been inhabited continuously for 3,000 years. Our host at La Maison Mer de Cocagne, told me how Cocagne is where the very first Acadian families to own their own land after the deportation settled. This summer I walked the land on Grand Manan that my wife’s loyalist ancestors settled to establish successful fisheries after being exiled by the American government.
Green Party Leader David Coon announced that a Green government would immediately ban the use of the spraying of herbicides, such as glyphosate, on Crown lands and under power lines.
“Successive Liberal and Conservative governments have been afraid to stand up to the big forestry companies,” said Coon. “I will stand up for what New Brunswickers want, and with 35,000 signatures on the Stop Spraying petition I presented in the Legislature, it is clear that it is time to ban the use of glyphosate and other herbicides on our forests.”
Coon also committed to ending the practice of indiscriminate clearcutting.
“Clearcutting is hurting wildlife populations and reducing the value of timber the forest can grow,” said Coon. “It is also hurting our tourism sector. When people come to New Brunswick, they expect to see trees, not clearcuts. We will replace indiscriminate clearcutting with selective harvesting to encourage the natural regrowth of trees.
This afternoon, standing outside of the Northumberland Wood Marketing Board offices, Green Party Leader David Coon announced that a Green government would ensure that private woodlots return to being the primary source of wood supply for New Brunswick mills.
Coon said that he would bring changes to the Crown Lands and Forests Act within the first one hundred days of a Green government in order to ensure equitable access to the market for private woodlot owners.
“Forty years ago, woodlot owners and their families were promised a fair deal when the Crown forests were turned over to a handful of large corporations. A deal that said they would be the primary source of wood fibre to the mills, so they could continue to market their wood to provide for their families ” said Coon. “Successive Liberal and Conservative governments reneged on that deal, making it nearly impossible for woodlot owners to live off of the wood they produce.”
“I will stand up against the special pleading of the big guys and fight to ensure fair market access for small woodlot owners from Northumberland County to Charlotte County, and from Kings County to Restigouche County,” said Coon.
Joined by Miramichi Bay-Neguac Green Party candidate Curtis Bartibogue, this morning Green Party Leader David Coon announced that a Green government would prioritize building nation-to-nation relationships with the Wolastoqey, Mi’kmaq and Peskotomuhkati people. Coon re-iterated that the first step he would take is to immediately convene an inquiry into systemic racism in the New Brunswick justice system.
Coon said he would follow this up with an initiative that would ensure First Nations would be partners in the management of Crown forests, given they had never surrendered the land. “It is time that we turn public acknowledgements that the indigenous people of New Brunswick never ceded their lands into genuine actions that reflect this reality,” said Coon.
He also committed to supporting the training of Indigenous language teachers and Indigenous student immersion programs for the Wabanaki languages.
“Language is vital to the fabric of who people are,” said Coon. “There are fewer than 100 fluent Wolastoqey speakers and only about 2000 Mi’kmaq speakers left in New Brunswick. We need to take decisive action now to save these important languages.”
Kevin Arseneau, incumbent candidate for Kent North and francophone lieutenant of the Green Party of New Brunswick, promised the revival of the Northern and Miramichi Funds if the party is elected, at a press conference in Robertville today.
The Green Party representative believes that the unique situation of each region of the province requires specific funding to address their particular needs. "What is being proposed is to recognize the need for an asymmetrical approach to address the particular challenges of the North, the Acadian Peninsula and Kent County," said Kevin Arseneau.
According to him, it is necessary to develop comprehensive regional development plans to ensure the full effectiveness of the funds, which must include all elements that have an impact on development such as demographics, the environment and the long-term economic development of the regions.
Mr. Arseneau insists that these development plans must be rooted in the community and in consultation with local stakeholders: "We must put an end to Fredericton's paternalism and political interference and stop centralizing development decisions. Our regions need support and it is crucial that these funds be administered in a transparent and community-based manner". The use of the various regional funds will be guided by these development plans and with clear criteria. "We want to stop simply throwing money around and hoping for a miracle to happen. We need a solid plan. A green vote is a vote for your region." He added.
The Green candidate for Restigouche-Chaleur, Marie Larivière, agrees: "Regional development plans are essential to take into account the demographics, environmental issues and economic challenges facing northern communities - free from political interference. The Green Party wants to bring power back to the regions. That's how we're going to build our economy. "
Green Party leader David Coon was in Moncton today to launch the Moncton-region campaign, joined by the all-female group of local candidates, interim leader of the Green Party of Canada Jo-Ann Roberts, and Fredericton Green MP Jenica Atwin.
“I am absolutely thrilled with the candidates we have attracted in the Moncton area,” said Coon. “We’ve invited women to step up for this election and have been overjoyed by the number of women of diverse backgrounds and walks of life who have joined us. Because of our values, the Green Party attracts a diverse group of candidates.”
The candidates for the Moncton area are:
- Mélyssa Boudreau (Dieppe)
- Carole Chan (Moncton Centre)
- Josephine Watson (Moncton South)
- Laura Sanderson (Moncton Northwest)
- Claire Kelly (Moncton Southwest)
- Rachel Pletz (Riverview)
- Jenny O’Neil (Albert)
- Phylomène Zangio (Moncton East) (Update: New candidate)
- Kimberly-Mai Therrien (Shediac Bay-Dieppe) (Update: This candidate missed the nomination deadline by one minute.)
“This group of women will be tireless advocates for their communities once they are elected to the Legislative Assembly,” said Coon. “I look forward to them joining me in Fredericton come September 15.”
Standing in front of the Sackville Hospital today, Green Party Leader David Coon announced that a Green government will restore autonomy to local hospitals and health centres.
“I will re-establish the essential role of the hospital administrator to ensure hospitals have the autonomy they need to ensure they can provide the health services local people need, when they need them,” said Coon.
Coon also committed to establishing community health boards to ensure local healthcare services reflect the needs and expectations of the community. These will replace the role public members play on the Regional Health Authority Boards.
“Decentralization will provide better decision-making that reflects local realities,” said Coon. “It will restore a true sense of belonging for the hospital staff, confident that they are part of a team working together to serve the community.”
“Successive governments have failed to listen to what people living in rural areas need, and failed to recognize that these ill-conceived plans would add strain to the already overburdened urban hospitals,” said Green Party campaign co-chair and candidate for Memramcook-Tantramar Megan Mitton. “We need decision-making at the local level, by our local communities and at the hospital level, not by someone in Fredericton who doesn’t listen to our community.”
Green Party Leader David Coon announced today that a Green government would make New Brunswick’s property tax system fairer for small business and residential taxpayers.
“For far too long, heavy industry in New Brunswick has received unfair tax breaks leaving small businesses and homeowners paying an unfair share of provincial property taxes,” said Coon. “A Green government would amend the New Brunswick Assessment Act to bring fairness to the system.”
In Saint John, for example, homeowners contribute 61% of all property taxes while heavy industry pays just eight percent. The Saint John Regional Hospital’s annual property tax bill is $4.5 million while Irving Oil pays just $2.6 million in property taxes for their refinery.
“The property tax system has become corrupted”, said Coon. “And I am going to clean it up.”
The Green Party leader committed to eliminating a loophole which enables heavy industry to receive property tax cuts if their income declines, something unavailable to any other class of taxpayer.
“If you lose your job or you have lost business, government is not going to cut your property tax bill like they do for heavy industry. It is unbelievably unfair,” said Coon.
Coon said he would also end the tax breaks heavy industry receives on industrial machinery and heavy equipment, and cancel the tax exemption Irving Oil receives on its tank farm.
Green Party Leader David Coon announced today that a government led by him will take bold action to ensure people living with disabilities are fully included in New Brunswick society.
“While we have successfully included children with disabilities into our school system, we fail to include people with disabilities in our broader society. Greens are committed to building an inclusive New Brunswick for the 26.7 percent of New Brunswickers who are living with at least one disability. That’s the second highest rate in the entire country,” said Coon.
Coon committed to four actions he would take in his first 100 days in office.
Scrap government’s household income policy to enable people with disabilities living on income assistance to get married or live with a roommate without losing their source of income.
Allow people with autism or intellectual disabilities to access the New Brunswick mental health care system, from which they are currently excluded.
Adopt the Disability Action Plan for Persons with Disabilities written by the Premier’s Council on Disabilities, and begin implementing its recommendations.
Coon had earlier announced that people living with disabilities would be the first group in society to benefit from the Guaranteed Livable Income his Party would implement to replace the income assistance system.