MLA David Coon: Reply to the Throne Speech 2014

15 12 2014

Reply to the Speech from the Throne December 9, 2014 David Coon, MLA, Fredericton South Leader of the Green Party of NB Contact: Margot Malenfant, Legislative Assistant (506) 478-7781

Mr. Speaker, before I begin my response to the Speech from the Throne, I want to thank the people of Fredericton South for electing me to represent them in this Legislative Assembly. It is an honour and a tremendous responsibility to serve the community of Fredericton South in this House. I want to thank the many young women and men, some who voted for the first time in their lives, who put their faith in me. I also want to acknowledge all of the children and youth, too young to vote, who seemed galvanized by my candidacy and cheered me on during the campaign and celebrated my election. I will be forever thankful for their enthusiasm and I will be respectful of the trust they have put in me to give a voice to their hopes and dreams.

Change we must, for everything around us is in motion. Maintaining a death grip on the way we have always done things will surely rob our children of their futures. Things we could count on in the past – the predictability of our seasons, the conviction that the power will come back on in hours, the assurance that sea level will remain at sea level, the availability of work in the woods when all else dried up, the certainty of economic growth, the faith that great wealth for some will ensure a decent livelihood for many – are gone. As our footing has become uncertain, some have taken advantage of our anxiety and spread fear to benefit themselves. They have been successful, as we have become fearful. We are fearful about the economy, fearful about our debts, even fearful of each other – francophone and Anglophone, First Nation and newcomer – thanks to those who would rather divide our people to serve their interests, rather than unite them to transform New Brunswick and ensure our children have a decent future in our province. As Plato said, “We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark; the real tragedy of life is when men are afraid of the light.”

Mr. Speaker, the hopes and dreams of young people are what I will keep at the forefront of my mind over the next four years. I will seek the views of youth, as much as I seek the views of the adults in my riding, and bring those views to our deliberations on the floor of this Legislative Assembly. Young people are hungry for change, even desperate for change. Youth want to play a role in transforming New Brunswick into a fairer and greener society. Youth want in. One way to let youth in is to lower the voting age to 16. This is something we can make possible as legislators.

Mr. Speaker, a recent Report from the Human Development Council reported that 21% of New Brunswick children lived below the poverty line in 2012, an increase from 19.8% in 1989, despite a 40% increase in New Brunswick’s per capita GDP over that period. Between 1989 and 2012 we saw the construction of not one, but two pipelines across our province, a massive expansion of the Irving Oil Refinery and a 61.5% increase in J.D. Irving’s allowable cut of softwood over the same period. Clearly, a growing economy has not reduced child poverty. In fact, it has increased, with the child poverty rate in Saint John, our most industrialized city, at 30.4%. If we want to reduce child poverty, parents need access to affordable childcare so they can afford to work. Parents need access to reliable public transportation so they can afford travel to work. While the government is committed to increasing the minimum wage, it’s not enough. Parents earning minimum wage should not have to pay the provincial portion of income tax, so they can better cope with their week-to-week expenses. Mr. Speaker, children need access to early childhood education to help equip them with the skills they need to break out of the poverty trap. UNB’s Early Childhood Research Centre has created impressive curriculum for early learning, but those children who need access to early learning the most cannot take advantage of it. It has been estimated that universal access to low-fee childcare in Quebec led to nearly 70,000 more mothers holding jobs than if the program had not existed, representing a 3.8% increase in women’s employment. The resulting increase in tax revenue exceeds the costs of the childcare program. We need to look at ways of ensuring universal access to childcare and early learning. Children need access to meal programs in their schools so they can learn optimally, and they need greater access to our alternative education system operated by our school districts for those who cannot function within the regular system. It is overcharged and the waiting lists are long.

Mr. Speaker, two weeks ago the Child and Youth Advocate released his State of the Child report. It shows that the New Brunswick rate of hospital admissions for children and youth struggling with mental diseases and disorder is 80% higher than the national rate. It is estimated that 22% of youth from Grade Six to Twelve have low mental fitness. There is an urgent need to guarantee rapid access to mental health care for our children and youth. The State of the Child report also indicates that New Brunswick has a rate of children and youths who are victims of family violence that is 37% higher than the national average. It is well established that boys who witness violence in the home are at a higher risk of committing violence against women in adulthood. Sixty-five percent of women seeking shelter in Transition Houses were witnesses to domestic violence as children. There is a pressing need for therapeutic treatment for these children, which is not something Transition House staff are able to provide. According to the State of the Child Report, the rate of persons charged with sexual violations against children in New Brunswick is 63% higher than the national rate, which the Office of the Child and Youth Advocate describes as cause for alarm.

Mr. Speaker, I want to draw special attention to the difficulties faced by youth between the ages of 16 and 18 in finding a safe place to live when escaping violence, sexual abuse, neglect, or reaching the age where they are too old for foster care. The youth residences such as Chrysalis House in Fredericton and the Miramichi Youth House have long waiting lists, leaving youth at tremendous risk by lacking the ability to accommodate youth in emergency situations. Frankly, I was appalled that the Telegraph Journal, in its editorial commenting on findings of the State of the Child Report, chose to limits its focus to child obesity. I was also disappointed to see so little attention given to advancing the rights and well-being of children and youth in the Speech from the Throne, given the findings of the State of the Child Report. Parents will sacrifice much to ensure the health and well-being of their children. A similar priority must permeate our policy and budget priorities. We need to build an infrastructure of midwifery to provide the continuity of care for invents and support for Moms. We must invest in strengthening the infrastructure of childcare and early learning. We must invest in providing preventative mental health care and rapid access to diagnosis and treatment. We must invest in safeguarding women from domestic violence and that means investing in treating children who have been witness to violence in the home to break the chain of violence.

As the Leader of the Third Party in this House, the criticisms I make regarding government policy and priorities are not to condemn, but to highlight our challenges so we can work together as legislators to better serve the common good. My arguments will be based on reason, on evidence, and on principles. Mr. Speaker, you have my word that my critiques will be directed toward ideas, not individual personalities on the other side of this House. Mr. Speaker, we can and must afford to build a just society based on fairness and equality. We can and must afford to build a sustainable society based on living within ecological constraints, reducing our fossil fuel use to safe levels, and living within our financial means. I will support, or work to improve those policies, budget commitments and legislation brought forward by government that are consistent with these goals.

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D’Arcy Urges City to Seek Meeting with TransCanada

6 12 2014
Concerns expressed about major projects’ effects on Fredericton
Local environmental activist Mark D’Arcy is asking Fredericton city council to get involved in several projects close to the capital that may have an impact on climate change.
D’Arcy appeared before the city’s public safety and environment committee Tuesday and asked the city to send a letter to TransCanada Corp. requesting a public meeting in Fredericton about the proposed Energy East pipeline.
He also asked the city to do the same thing in a letter to Northcliff Resources Ltd. about the proposed Sisson Brook mining project.   In addition, D’Arcy urged the city to go on the record and say that used fracking water would never be treated in Fredericton’s waste water treatment system.
“The Energy East pipeline would be the largest oil pipeline in North America”he said.  “Citizens need to be properly informed about the public health and safety implications .”
D’Arcy said citizens have the right to know:
• if TransCanada will post a bond to cover any damages from pipeline spills,
• what chemicals will be used to dilute the bitumen in the pipeline;
• if a computer model would be created to analyze the impact of a spill here on the city’s drinking water aquifer;   • if dispersants would be allowed in cleanups;
• if the pipeline would allow the oilsands to be tripled in size;
• if such an increase in size would require the use of more train cars to move oil;
• if First Nations would be consulted; and
• if the pipeline would affect Canada’s ability to hit its greenhouse gas targets.
He said Quebec, Ontario and several First Nations groups are already on the record with opposition to the pipeline that will delay or even block the project.
That means the pipeline company has plenty of time to hold a meeting in Fredericton, said D’Arcy. He also wants to know if the city has been offered any promises or money by TransCanada. D’Arcy asked to be able to present his requests directly to council rather than just before the committee. But Coun. John MacDermid said the committee could send D’Arcy’s request to council and made a motion to that effect. Deputy Mayor Eric Megarity seconded the motion and it passed. But he also said that while he supports protecting the environment,society can’t stop all development. “You’ve got to have a plan to kick-start the economy,”said Megarity. Coun. Greg Ericson said as far as he knows TransCanada hasn’t offered or promised anything to Fredericton.

Second Deputy Leader of Green Party of Canada

2 12 2014

Green Party of Canada

Today, I am thrilled to share some exciting news. The Green Party is welcoming a second Deputy Leader to the team!

Daniel Green is a pioneer in environmental research and activism. He has been a leader in the movement to protect our land and water for more than 30 years.

I have known Daniel for decades — through his time at the helm of the Société pour Vaincre la Pollution in his home province of Quebec and his work as a scientific advisor to organizations like the Sierra Club of Canada.

Daniel understands that all citizens have the right to breathe clean air and drink unpolluted water and he has devoted his life to defending these rights.

He has made a profound difference on the issue of environmental contamination — successfully taking legal actions before the Supreme Court of Canada. Daniel was instrumental in causing the corporations involved in the tragedy at Lac-Mégantic to decontaminate the site in 2013 and 2014.

I am deeply grateful to Daniel for his commitment to Green values. He will join Bruce Hyer as our second Deputy Leader.

Take a moment now to join Bruce and I in welcoming Daniel to the Green Party:

Shaun, with incredible team members like Daniel being recruited across the country, I know we are headed for a breakthrough in next year’s election.

Thanks for being with us during this exciting time,


Elizabeth May, O.C.
MP, Saanich-Gulf Islands
Leader, Green Party of Canada

Fredericton Green Party AGM Nov. 18

8 11 2014

The Fredericton Green Party Association will be holding its Annual General Meeting:


Nov 18th, 7:00 – 9:00 pm

Location : Renaissance College

                811 Charlotte St.,


Positions to be filled:


Financial Agent

Membership Chair




We will review the past year and discuss plans for the coming year, including preparations for the upcoming federal election.


Please consider active participation in the Federal Green Party as we prepare for 2015. Let’s change the political landscape!


Hope you can join us.

Historic Victory for NB Greens on Sept. 22 2014

11 10 2014
Dear Members and Supporters,

We did it!

With countless hours of hard work and dedication by the assembled Green Team, New Brunswick has elected its first Green MLA!  Thanks to your help, we made history and I will be soon taking my seat on the floor of the Legislative Assembly.

With stellar candidates across the province, and  the help of hundreds and hundreds of volunteers, we increased our share of the popular vote by more than 50%, raised important issues that none of the other parties touched, and proved that Greens can win.

2014 will go down in the history books as a year of firsts for Greens:

  • The party had its first electoral success east of British Columbia;
  • I am the first provincial Green Party leader elected anywhere in Canada;
  • We are the first Green Party in in the country to be granted official party status.

I will be working hard to represent my constituents in Fredericton South on the floor of the Legislature and to bring much needed democratic reform to our province.  As leader of the third party in the Legislative Assembly, I will bring forward key commitments from the Green Party’s election platform through the introduction of private members’ bills and motions for debate.

Like you, I know we need to build on the momentum of success now, and we require your help to do so. I am asking that you kindly continue to donate, or make your first donation ever, to ensure the Green Party grows across the province.

There are multiple ways to donate; just choose the method that best suits you! Please visit our donation page by clicking here.

David Coon
Green Party of New Brunswick

Chers membres et amis,

Nous avons réussi !

Grâce au travail ardu et au dévouement de l’Équipe verte, le Nouveau-Brunswick a élu un député Vert pour la première fois. Nous sommes rentrés dans l’histoire et je prendrai bientôt mon siège sur le parquet de l’Assemblée législative.

Avec nos excellent-e-s candidat-e-s et les centaines et centaines de bénévoles, nous avons augmenté de plus de 50 pourcent notre part du vote populaire, nous avons soulevé des questions qu’aucun des autres partis n’a abordées, et nous avons démontré que les Verts peuvent gagner.

Cette année 2014 est une année de premières pour les Verts :

  • Nous représentons le premier succès électoral à l’est de la Colombie-Britannique pour le Parti au Canada.
  • Je suis le premier chef provincial du Parti élu au pays.
  • Nous sommes le premier Parti vert au pays ayant obtenu un statut officiel à l’Assemblée législative.

Je travaillerai fort pour représenter ma circonscription de Fredericton-Sud à partir du parquet de l’Assemblée et afin d’apporter la réforme démocratique tant nécessaire dans cette province. Comme chef du troisième parti à l’Assemblée législative, je mettrai de l’avant les engagements du programme du Parti vert en présentant de projets de loi d’initiative parlementaire et des propositions de résolution à débattre.

Je sais, comme vous, qu’il est important de mettre à profit cet élan et ce succès, et nous aurons besoin de votre aide. Nous vous demandons de continuer de faire des dons, ou de faire votre premier don, afin que le Parti vert puisse attirer encore plus d’adhérents à travers la province.

Il y a de multiples façons de faire un don. Choisissez celle qui est bonne pour vous. Visitez notre page de dons en cliquant ici

Bien à vous,

David Coon
Parti vert du Nouveau-Brunswick

Copyright © 2014 Green Party of New Brunswick / Parti vert du Nouveau-Brunswick, All rights reserved.
You are receiving this email because you are a member or supporter of the Green Party. / Vous recevez ce courriel parce que vous êtes membre ou supporteur du Parti vert.

Our mailing address is:

Green Party of New Brunswick / Parti vert du Nouveau-Brunswick

403 Regent Street, Suite B-1

FrederictonNB E3B 3X6


Victory! Green Party NB Granted Official Party Status

3 10 2014

David Coon will be the first leader of a third party in the legislature since 2005

CBC News Posted: Oct 03, 2014 12:15 PM AT Last Updated: Oct 03, 2014 2:12 PM AT

Premier-designate Brian Gallant announced on Friday that Green Party Leader David Coon will be granted official party status in the upcoming legislature.

Premier-designate Brian Gallant announced on Friday that Green Party Leader David Coon will be granted official party status in the upcoming legislature. (CBC)

Green Party Leader David Coon will receive official party status when the legislature returns, according to premier-designate Brian Gallant.

“Having a third party recognized in the legislature is a great example of New Brunswick’s healthy and vibrant democracy,” Gallant said in a statement.

“David will be a strong voice for his constituents and will contribute greatly to the debate in the people’s house.”

The designation of an official party means Coon will have a role in question period and the legislature’s various committees.

The two leaders met on Friday in Fredericton.

The standing rules of the legislature define a recognized party as any “registered party that elects five members or receives 20 per cent of the vote at a general election.”

David Coon wins

Green Party Leader David Coon won his seat in Fredericton South in the Sept. 22 election. He is the first third party leader to be in the legislature since 2005. (CBC)

Coon became the first Green Party MLA in New Brunswick’s history when he won his Fredericton South riding. The party received 6.6 per cent in the Sept. 22 election.

The distinction of official party status must be voted on by the legislature.

Gallant said Coon has the support of the Liberal MLAs when the legislature resumes on this motion.

“All Liberal MLAs will vote … for this. We think It is important in our democracy to have all voices heard,” Gallant said on Friday.

“Mr. Coon ran a good campaign both locally and provincially. He has earned the right to be in the legislature and I think New Brunswickers will want to hear from him and certainly want him to contribute in keeping the government to account.”

Coon told reporters the Liberal offer does not come with any strings attached. But he said the two parties have found common ground on some issues surrounding legislative reform.

“My approach will be one that is substantive. We discussed this actually as we met beforehand, the need not only to bring decorum back to the Legislative Assembly, which I think the premier-designate is very focused on as we saw when he was leader of opposition,” Coon said.

“But to bring some functionality back to the Legislative Assembly as the legislative arm of government. My expectation is that when serious questions asked that answers are actually given.”

When Elizabeth Weir was the sole NDP MLA in the legislature, she would often be given one question and two follow-ups in question period.

Coon said he would like to have two questions, including two follow-ups for each of those questions. However, that time would be subtracted from the overall time allotted to the opposition.

Office budget precedent

The incoming Liberal premier said his party would also support funding for the Green Party consistent with what the New Democratic Party received when Weir was elected.

Weir had two staff members as well as an office budget.

The last two years that Weir sat in the legislature, she received a salary of $11,944 as the leader of the NDP on top of her MLA’s salary. By comparison, the leader of the opposition received $36,264.

Weir also received a budget to hire office staff and an allowance of roughly $6,000 for other office needs.

The act governing the legislature also sets out the requirement to provide funding for an office. Weir’s office budget grew from $110,000 in 2000-01 to $145,000 in 2005-06.

Under the Legislative Assembly Act, the leader of a registered party is paid a salary of 25 per cent of the salary paid to the premier. That would put Coon’s salary at $19,750 above the $85,000 paid to an MLA.

The Legislative Administration Committee will have to ratify funding for the party.

The committee operates on consensus, so Gallant said the amount of money set aside for Coon depends on the Tories.

The NDP leader also had a floor of office space in what is known as the opposition building.

These funds are to help Coon in his function as a MLA and a leader of an official party.

The Green Party will also have access to public financing as a registered political party. Those funds are divided based on the popular vote that a party receives in the provincial election.

A Short March by One Person in a Small Town for Climate Justice

28 09 2014

CROSSWALK-1Most of my fellow enviro guerrillas went to the People’s March for Climate Justice in New York City on Sept. 21. I could have been on the bus with them, but I decided to stay local. Not that I had any problem with 300,000 people going on a bus or carpooling to New York to get the attention of world leaders at the UN. That was worth burning a small amount of fossil fuel per person to get world leaders to see that we were serious about climate change. Tens of thousands of Canadians marched in NYC, protesting the tar sands, pipelines, and fracking. There was a contingent of over 700 Buddhists of various denominations who marched and meditated together. I’m sure there were more that just weren’t counted as such. But I wasn’t among them.

Instead, I carpooled from Halifax, Nova Scotia to Fredericton, New Brunswick. I was going to Fredericton to vote for the first time since I became a citizen of Canada in March. I was going to vote in the Provincial elections, and I was going to vote Green. The Green Party was running a candidate who could actually win a Provincial seat. I made the trip because I knew it was a close race and every vote counted. David Coon, leader of the Green Party of New Brunswick, was in a hotly contested race for MLA in Fredericton South, running against incumbent Craig Leonard, the Conservative Minister of Fracking Everything Up.

I had a feeling David was going to win. The Liberal candidate was an unknown, the NDP guy had too much baggage from his previous term as a Liberal MLA, and the Conservatives had been going down in the polls for months. But there was something else that told me that this time things would be different.

I got up Monday morning at my townhouse in Marysville and rode my bike down Bridge St. to the community centre on McGloin St. to vote. Having done that with no qualms, I got back on my bike and rode across the bridge toward the Nashwaak Trail bike path. When I had lived in Fredericton for five years, before taking a job in Halifax, I had done this countless times. But this time, something happened, something new.

There was a crosswalk over Bridge Street. A crosswalk had been painted by the City, connecting one side of the Nashwaak Trail across Bridge St. to the other side, connecting it to the trail that went eight kilometres to downtown Fredericton. I was stunned. I stopped pedalling. For years, I griped about the fact that there was no crosswalk on that part of the trail. I sent emails and letters and photographs to my City Counsellor, the Mayor’s Office, Park and Rec and the Planning Department, demanding that they put a crosswalk across Bridge Street. I told them that it was a dangerous place to cross on the trail, dangerous for kids on bikes and strollers, people in wheelchairs, elderly walkers. The Trail crossed Bridge St. just before the intersection of Crocket and Canada Streets. Cars and trucks would race down Bridge St. and, instead of braking, would bolt through the intersection, trying to beat the light before it turned red. It was just a matter of time before some eight-year old kid on a bike ended up dead.

But this time, there was a crosswalk over Bridge Street. Years ago I had said that when I became a citizen, and I was no longer afraid of being arrested, I was going to get cans of white spray paint and spray a DIY crosswalk on Bridge St. in the middle of the night. That was going to be my protest for the lack of consideration for the safety of cyclists and pedestrians by the City. They listened to my demands, I guess, and they finally did it.

I continued to ride and saw construction workers widening and grading the Nashwaak Trial up to Canada St. Instead of ruts and gravel, it was a smooth, walkable, bikeable trail. Things were getting really different.

I went to the Green Party campaign headquarters on King Street and spent the day working on last minute get-out-the-vote, calling voters, tabulating support, troubleshooting calls from the canvassers in the field. Word on the street was that the Greens had out-organized everybody. In the afternoon, David Coon came into the office, and I shook hands with my good friend. I looked him straight in the eye, and I said, “David, you’re going to win.”

At 6 PM, Campaign Manager Meredith Brewer shouted to me, “find some way to get five more votes for David, now!” I sent out a tweet: “Fredericton: Vote for David Coon & the Greens for climate action; because Greens won’t sell out the climate as a bargaining chip.”

Sure enough, at 12:30 am on Sept. 22, it became official that David Coon and the Greens had beaten the Conservative by over 600 votes, and left the other party candidates in the dust by more than a 1000 votes each. David Coon made history as the second Green Provincial Legislator elected in Canada.

Finally, something new was happening in New Brunswick.

New Brunswick election 2014: Green Party leader takes Fredericton riding, NDP leader resigns

23 09 2014



SEPTEMBER 23, 2014

Photo: flickr/Rick Harris

Editor update: Progressive Conservative leader David Alward has annouced he will resign as the party’s leader and an interim leader will be chosen in consultation with the rest of the PC party.

Brian Gallant’s Liberals have formed a majority government in New Brunswick, taking 27 of the 49 seats in the New Brunswick Legislature. The Progressive Conservatives took 21 seats and for the first time east of British Columbia, the Green Party has taken a seat in provincial government.

David Coon supporters waited past midnight, following a vote counting fiasco, to confirm that the Green Party leader and long-time environmentalist had won the Fredericton South riding, defeating Progressive Conservative Energy and Mines Minister Craig Leonard in a close race.

Pundits are saying that Leonard lost his seat to Coon because of his party’s cuts to pensions alienated their base of supporters. However, Coon’s supporters, many of them defected NDP members, see Coon’s victory as moving New Brunswick in a different direction on many contentious issues like shale gas and abortion rights.

“David’s win is phenomenal! It gives people a voice on the floor of a house that [has] not listen[ed] to the needs of everyone,” says Judie Acquin-Mikovsky, a shale gas opponent from St. Mary’s First Nation.

“It gives us an opportunity to explore alternatives that we have been made to believe are unreachable. Although he has a big mandate on his shoulders, David’s convictions and dedication through the years has proven that he is a man of his word.”

NDP leader Dominic Cardy failed to win his riding of Fredericton-West Hanwell, losing to Conservative Brian MacDonald. The party attempted to rebrand itself as the “New NDP” and move the party to the centre in a bid to appeal to voters, but failed to win any seats in the Legislature. 

Cardy’s NDP attempted to get votes in Kent County by ramping up its opposition to shale gas by calling for a two-year legislated ban on fracking during the campaign period. However, many shale gas opponents in Kent County could not forget Cardy’s calls for the Alward government to enforce the rule of law when the blockade against SWN’s shale gas equipment in Rexton was violently broken up by the RCMP on Oct. 17, 2013.

The NDP has not held a seat in the New Brunswick Legislature since Elizabeth Weir represented Saint John from 1995 to 2005. Cardy announced during his concession speech that he would be resigning as party leader at the party’s fall convention.

A summer of activism against the status quo

A flurry of activity in opposition to the status quo on a variety of contentious issues like abortion, forestry and shale gas spread throughout New Brunswick this summer.

Reproductive justice activists got busy organizing to make abortion access an election issue in the wake of the announcement of the Morgentaler Clinic closure. They released a candidates’ survey, demonstrated outside Conservative and Liberal candidates’ offices and demanded a repeal of sections of Regulation 84-20 of the Medical Services Payment Act that restrict access to publicly funded reproductive health services across the province.

“I think David Coon’s win is an amazing step forward for reproductive justice. He is the first New Brunswick MLA to be elected with a strong and clear pro-choice position within his party’s platform. Being publicly pro-choice in New Brunswick is now an electable political stance,” says Marilyn Merritt-Gray, a reproductive justice advocate and former nurse at the Morgentaler Clinic.

Marie-Claude Blais, the former Minister Responsible for Women’s Equality, who defended her Progressive Conservative party’s position that there were no barriers to abortion access in the province lost her seat in Moncton Centre to Liberal Chris Collins.

Reproductive rights activists, initially discouraged by the Liberal’s failure to name barriers to abortion access and support the repeal, are waiting to see if the governing Liberals will remove those barriers like they had promised pre-election.

Forestry was another top election issue. Coon, known for his decades of work against clear cutting, made it a centre issue.

The Greens came out strong against the Alward government’s forest plan while the NDP refused to criticize the plan, saying they did not know enough about it to evaluate it.

The plan has been criticized for being a stealthy move towards deregulation in the forest that would allow forestry companies to clearcut in areas previously set aside to protect wildlife and waters.

Hundreds rallied against the forest plan at the New Brunswick Legislature in May. Almost 200 forest scientists, economists and academics at the province’s universities condemned the plan in an open letter. First Nation Chiefs are awaiting a decision from the courts on an appeal to get an injunction to temporarily halt the forest plan.

“I was surprised that shale gas was a larger election issue than forestry, given that shale gas is still speculative and the public’s interest in Crown land forests was actually sold down the river by the last government,” says Tom Beckley, a sociologist with the Department of Forestry and Environmental Management at the University of New Brunswick. “While many seem resigned to the fact that we are locked in to 25 year contracts with industry, I have every confidence that Mr. Coon will continue to articulately defend the public’s interest from his unique vantage point in the legislature.”

Leo Goguen of Rogersville is one of many woodlot owners opposed to the Alward government’s forest plan. He organized a protest against herbicide spraying of the forest in Miramichi in early September when he discovered aerial spraying on public land adjacent to his property.

“The clearcuts in our area are unreal. I don’t support spraying the forest because so many people are getting cancer. We’re trying to protect people, the animals, the moose and deer, the partridge and the rabbits that we eat,” says Goguen.

Opponents like Goguen say that the clear cutting and herbicide spraying of New Brunswick’s old spruce and fir stands and maple and birch ridges is wiping out the diversity and resiliency of the forest and they are concerned about the human health concerns associated with the glyphosates, the herbicide used on public lands.

The Greens and NDP also differ on the building of TransCanada’s Energy East pipeline of bitumen from the Alberta tar sands to the Irving refinery in Saint John. The Greens oppose the pipeline while the NDP support it.

“For the first time I’m hopeful. More people in New Brunswick are standing up for their communities and taking a position against shale gas, the Energy East pipeline and Irving’s control of the forest,” says Acquin-Miksovsky.

Tracy Glynn is an editor for NB Media Co-op.

Photo: flickr/Rick Harris

How the New Brunswick Green leader made his ‘historic’ win

23 09 2014


New Brunswick Green Party Leader David Coon knocked on doors for months, made endless speeches and shook thousands of hands – but it wasn’t until Saturday, two days before election day, that he felt his fortunes finally turn.

Canvassing the homes in the provincial riding of Fredericton South, Mr. Coon said to his aide: “Holy crap, it looks like we might take this.”

There was a different tone and more engagement at the doors, he said. Elderly people were coming up to him on street corners and speaking to him about issues; on school campuses in the riding, students were intrigued by his message.

Mr. Coon, 57, made history in the New Brunswick election, becoming the first Green Party member ever to sit in the provincial legislature – and the fourth Green member in the country. Federal leader Elizabeth May represents a British Columbia riding in the House of Commons and Bruce Hyer is an Ontario MP; Andrew Weaver is a Green MLA in B.C.

“It’s historic,” he told The Globe and Mail Tuesday in an interview, noting that his Fredericton South riding has only “ever been red or blue.” In addition, this was only the second election in New Brunswick for the Green Party.

For the first time in many years, the legislature will also no longer be just occupied by Grits and Tories – “so that’s going to make a huge change to the body politic in New Brunswick,” he said.

Mr. Coon and his wife, Janice Harvey, who teaches at St. Thomas University in Fredericton, are friends with Ms. May. He joined the federal party when she won the leadership.

“With David’s historic win, we now have Green MLAs on both coasts and Green MPs in Ottawa,” Ms. May wrote in an e-mail. “The Green Party’s growth is now beyond doubt, but yesterday’s win is David’s triumph.”

Mr. Coon said he can provide that independent voice, which is not constrained by party whips telling MLAs what to say and how to vote.

“This will force a change in way the legislature functions,” he said, hoping to make the committee system more accessible to citizens.

He also said he will work “across party lines” – and “be a bit of a conscience for New Brunswickers.”

It was a hard-fought election Monday – one that was nearly hijacked by a glitch in the voting tabulation system – but saw the Liberals eke out a majority government, defeating the incumbent Progressive Conservatives.

In Mr. Coon’s riding – a diverse riding that includes well-heeled Frederictonians, university and college students, professors, and even some artists – it was a four-way fight that was almost too close to call.

In the end, Mr. Coon won with 30 per cent of the vote – beating the incumbent Progressive Conservative energy minister, Craig Leonard.

It was a fight with stark choices, given that Mr. Leonard’s cabinet job was to push his government’s pro-hydraulic fracturing policy – which was the centrepiece of the PCs’ job creation platform.

Mr. Coon, who worked for 28 years with the Conservation Council of New Brunswick, an environmental advocacy organization, before getting into politics, had a much different position – if he formed government he would pass a bill cancelling exploration licenses and get rid of the leases to extract shale gas.

But there was more. At the doors in his riding – and he has been canvassing since last year after winning the provincial leadership in September 2012 – he detected “tremendous discontent” with the traditional parties.

“That was the common thread with the two old parties … the feeling that people have been erased from the picture,” he said. “They thought it was time for a breath of fresh air in the legislative assembly.”

There is a large student population in the riding, and he said the support of young people was key. But he also heard from retired public servants, who were concerned with changes the PC government made to their pensions.

The forestry deal, in which the Progressive Conservative government increased by 20 per cent the amount of softwood the industry could take from Crown land, was “the straw that broke the camel’s back,” he said.

Mr. Coon said that it amounted to giving away a “huge chunk of our forest for 25 years to J.D. Irving.”

“I think people felt they [the PC government] had gone too far,” he said.

As a former environmental advocate, Mr. Coon was no stranger to taking on the powerful Irving family, which owns and controls most of the industry in the province, including pulp and paper, and energy.

He says he simply spoke “honestly” about the issues and was not burdened by the “fear that so many people have about addressing issues as you see them.”

“We have had a string of governments who have been unwilling to stand up to the Irving group of companies …” he says. “That’s got us down a road that’s not been beneficial to the interests of New Brunswickers.”

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Liz May Needs Support for Her Green 2015 Campaign

23 09 2014

Greens have made history in New Brunswick!

Last night, Green Party of New Brunswick Leader David Coon was elected as the province’s first ever Green MLA.

David won his seat in the riding of Fredericton South, defeating Conservative incumbent Craig Leonard, the province’s pro-fracking Minister of Energy.

With David’s historic win, we now have Green MLAs on both coasts and Green MPs in Ottawa.

Shaun, our party’s growth is now beyond a doubt — this election showed that voting Green is not a protest vote, voting Green is a vote for something you want.

We’ve entered an era of electing Greens, but if we are to continue our success in next years election I will need your support.

Please make a contribution to our 2015 election fund today to mark this historic victory.

Thank you for all of your support Shaun,


Elizabeth May O.C.
MP, Saanich-Gulf Islands
Leader, Green Party of Canada