NB election 2020 – Meet the candidates: Saint Croix

Welcome to the Meet the Candidates edition of the Courier. Here’s how it works. The candidates from Fundy-The Isles-Saint John West were sent a series of identical questions, and we did the same for the candidates for Saint Croix. The candidates were given word count limits, and we are not editing questions for anything other than syntax and punctuation. If a response exceeds the allocated word count, candidates were informed the response would be cut off at the designated word count, even if it was mid-sentence.

All candidates from both ridings were sent the questions and invited to engage. All candidates responded aside from Tony Mann, Liberal candidate for Fundy-The Isles, and Sharon Greenlaw, NDP candidate for Fundy-The Isles.

In effort of being as fair as possible, responses are being listed in alphabetical order of party. The posts online will be separated by riding.

If you need to know where you can vote, go to the Elections NB website.

editor@stcroixcourier.ca

Kim Reeder, Green Party

1. Why are you running for the position of MLA in Saint Croix?

I believe that I have the right transferable skill set to be a very effective MLA. This includes extensive governance experience through my time on volunteer boards, published articles in academic journals on the topic of regional governance, and over 20 years of experience advocating for rural issues at the municipal, provincial and federal levels.

I have a proven track record of developing forums for dialogue. For example, I’m a member of the NB Power community liaison committee for the Milltown Dam, as well as having recently organized and hosted ten community conversations (100 residents in attendance) on the future of the dam since June. I have also helped to develop and facilitate seniors’ programming for the last four years which attracts over 200 local seniors. One of the goals of this work is to enable and encourage communication between community members. I have also organized and facilitated many conferences and workshops at all levels – international, national, provincial, and local – on issues that matter to us most.

My past experience shows that I not only focus on planning and research – but action. I show up and participate in community planning issues and events including:

•The proposed rezoning of Bayside residential area to an industrial landscape

•Municipal infrastructure and asset management

•Climate change planning and adaptation

•Community-based indigenous reconciliation

•Developing and delivering seniors’ health and wellness initiatives

•Engaging youth with their future by mentoring them in environmental ethics, community civics and rural skills

I’m involved in social justice matters such as poverty eradication, and racism such as the Fundy Community Foundation and Vibrant Communities Charlotte County AGMs, rallies for Black Lives Matter, Healing Walks – most recently for the community of Chantal Moore, along with extensive involvement in the Maritime Social Innovation Lab.

I understand both the challenges and opportunities that come with rural economies. For the last six years I have been a successful independent contractor, with experiences in developing community-based assets and programs as well as a senior energy policy analyst for RAVEN, a UNB research group for rural environments. In the past, I have been the Executive Director of a not-for-profit organization, a restaurant owner, as well as a proud clam-digger and maker of Christmas wreaths.

The time is now to allow the rising voice of the Green Party – and your values to be a new foundation for government – and I have stepped forward to help you accomplish **word count

2. What do you believe is the most important issue in the riding?

Currently, it’s the lack of representation in Fredericton. We must have good leadership to move forward, and it is a fundamental facet of representative democracy to have an efficient and effective voice in provincial government affairs. If we can ensure fairness of representation for our rural area we can accomplish anything. This translates to the mobilization of citizens and their self-determination.

Additionally, each New Brunswicker must demand a representative who lives here, is fully dedicated to the effort that lies ahead, and,who has the skills to meaningfully advance the multiple, inter-related endeavours which our region’s success depends on. It is time for meaningful action on what matters to us most as a community – and that is being able to succeed as a community. No one gets left behind. We must recognize that the challenges faced in Saint Croix will be best solved by those of us who live here, not just a few of us – but all of us. We have the collective intelligence to thrive, and we can build economies and social systems that make sense in our context, are based on our strengths and assets, and complement the environment in which we live. We do not have to exploit our environment, or our culture in negative ways to survive.

We need representation which reflects our collective experience, a person who has the knowledge and experience to make decisions that will benefit everyone in the critical areas of environment, health, senior care, education and the economy. Every citizen should expect a representative who is passionate, has worked closely with all age groups, and understands the challenges and opportunities of the region. Our representative also needs to be skilled in listening.

Importantly, and uniquely, no other party in Saint Croix has both a candidate and a party leader who have lived and actively contributed to the community for over two decades, Kim in Bocabec, and the party leader David Coon in Waweig.

3. What is your vision for the future of the Milltown Generating Station?

That the Milltown Generating Station becomes the best example of a community choosing to believe in their skills, intelligence and vision.

The recent and current efforts for the restoration of the Skutik/St. Croix represents millions of dollars being poured into our economies, into our environment, and therefore – into our health.

Just one local employer has seven field technicians all under the age of 30 learning and contributing their skilled labour. A waterway restoration effort would see these skilled youth stay in the community and contribute to the economy. How many jobs would a refurbishment project provide?

To decide on the vision for the station, we need only ask one question – whose judgment should we trust – a small, unproven, for-profit start-up, from away? Or our neighbours who have been working relentlessly for decades (mostly without accompanying budgets) to improve not only the environment, but our economy. Who is more likely to see this work through to the end?

Though laudable for many reasons, the re-use of the current infrastructure and energy production from a refurbished Milltown Generating Station is short-sighted. We do not need to produce more energy. We have what we need. We are in this for the long-term, we are in this for our kids and our grandkids. Many youths these days are not interested in getting a driver’s license, because they don’t want to contribute to the climate change problem. We must consider not only the here and now…how we can turn a buck selling energy, but how we can provide a stable environment and an economy resilient to the challenges that will come.

I have a strong research background, extensive experience, and a Masters in Environmental Management. I am a senior energy analyst. I have proven I engage the community and listen to what is being said. I am committed to a holistic understanding of the issues. I fully expect that as a community we will monitor and enforce fairness in the planning processes, and that together we will agree on the best path forward for the mutual benefit of the environment, our economy, our health, and our children.

4. Where do you stand on the issue of a year-round ferry for Campobello?

The Campobello ferry issue must be decided by the residents of Campobello. The Green Party recognizes that Campobello residents and extended families living away face unique challenges, not faced by any other Canadians.

What is most important in this context, is that all residents have the same information, and that they all agree to the questions being posed about the desire for a year-round ferry.

If Campobello decides that a year-round ferry to the mainland is warranted, together we will need to determine what safety concerns must also be considered. These issues will include weather related matters, security of homes, people and belongings. If a year round ferry is the choice – the NB government must subsidize it – as they do every other ferry in NB.

However, if the residents deem the ferry unnecessary, we must work with them to support, in a much-improved and equitable manner – their basic needs (medical, food security, economy, etc.), as well as effective mental health and social support.

5. What will be the first issue you tackle if you are elected as MLA?

Ensuring that the position of Chief Medical Officer of Health is independent and directly accountable to the Legislative Assembly. This will assist us in confirming or adjusting our current COVID recovery path.

In the long term – for more than thirty years successive governments have centralized both the decision-making powers and the management of public services. The result has been that citizens now have less say in the management and delivery of those services which are so important in their everyday lives, particularly health and education.

Good government includes putting in place the tools to listen to citizens on how to manage public services. A good government will adequately fund public services to meet the public’s needs and expectations. Finally, good government keeps public services under public control; it does not turn them over to profit-making corporations.

Here in New Brunswick, we have been sold the myth that industry subsidies are an investment, while healthcare, education, and social services are an expense. Successive governments have been able to make this argument because they control the finances of municipalities. We can no longer tolerate this centralization, nor the myth that private sector subsidies are good for regular citizens.

It is crucial for our future success that autonomy is returned to local government.

6. Who is your favourite Marvel movie character?

I don’t have a favorite Marvel movie character, but I do look to our local superheros – the moms and the dads, the gas station attendants, the caregivers, the crossing guards, the fishermen, the small woodlot owners who steward the land, the grocery store clerks, those who work at the pharmacies, our nurses, doctors, and teachers. My heroes are those amongst us who have learned to have an effective economy without harming the environment. My heroes are those who recognize that environmental justice and economic justice go hand in hand.

For the last 100 years in New Brunswick we have been ruled by the status quo – and what have we gained? We are the poorest province, and only now are we coming to understand that the wool has been pulled over our eyes.

The Irvings, and wealthy families like them, have taken of the resources and labour of this province and have squirreled that wealth away in offshore tax havens with the cooperation of successive provincial governments – be they liberal or conservative.

You don’t become the poorest of anything without being exploited. So my heroes are those who put people before profits. Who put kindness before tax write offs, and who work to uplift those of us who have the least in order that we might become a more just and equitable people.

John Gardner, Independent

1. Why are you running for the position of MLA in Saint Croix?

I have long been an activist for the riding. As the MLA it would give this riding a much stronger voice in the caucus rooms, the committees, and ultimately the Legislature.

2. What do you believe is the most important issue in the riding?

Rural healthcare is first and foremost a concern. Not just the emergency room, but all services from primary healthcare to rehabilitation. Senior care, mental health and drug addiction have all been neglected and we need to change that. We need to revitalize health care in the riding.

3. What is your vision for the future of the Milltown Generating Station?

The Milltown Generating Station is a complex issue that must balance the health of the river while still preserving the historic nature of the oldest hydro-electric generation facility in the country. This is not a black and white issue and all the stakeholders must come together to think outside the box and come up with a solution.

4. Where do you stand on the issue of a year-round ferry for Campobello?

Since 2001 we have seen the border between Canada and the USA slowly restrict. Covid has been the final straw. We need to provide a link between the island and the mainland. This is an issue that is long overdue and will assist in rebuilding the island economy. I am committed to a year round ferry.

5. What will be the first issue you tackle if you are elected as MLA?

As MLA I will work with the department of health to ensure the well being of rural healthcare.

6. Who is your favourite Marvel movie character?

Spider Man because it’s all about the webs we weave.

Brad McKinney, New Democrat Party

1. Why are you running for the position of MLA in Saint Croix?

Having spent more than a decade in the world of customer service, I know the people of Saint Croix. I’ve been there for monumental moments in your life, whether it’s scanning the groceries for your first family BBQ, or processing the bank draft for your first car, or cutting your hair before your first year of university. We’ve been through a lot, my friends. And it’s time that we make more memories.

We are in the middle of a pandemic. This has been a reset button for the world. And what are we doing about that? What are we doing to change the way we’ve been operating for hundreds of years? It’s time to start over. Start better. Start doing what’s best for this riding, not towing the party line. The system needs to change.

I am the youngest candidate on this ballot, maybe the youngest candidate this riding has ever seen. I have the experience, I have the knowledge. All I need is the chance to prove myself.

Why am I running for MLA of Saint Croix? It’s simple: I want to give the power back to the people of this riding. We have been too polite for too long. It’s time to be selfish, & tell the province what we need to finally get ahead. We need to take what is rightfully ours.

It’s time for a change, my friends. The Future Is Now.

2. What do you believe is the most important issue in the riding?

This pandemic has highlighted that “essential workers” are those being paid the least. The cost of living is going up. Groceries. Real estate. Clothing. Everything. And the majority of this riding’s population is making less than $12 an hour.

During my time in retail, I made minimum wage for 8 years, and even now, I’m working a second job to ensure my new business (Off The Top Barber Shop, 34 Pleasant Street, St. Stephen) can keep its doors open during these early months. That said, I’m certainly not the only one – this seems to be the status quo in our area. I’ve seen dozens of strong individuals wearing different uniforms on the same day to put food on the table. You inspire me. You keep me going. And I want to bring that same inspiration to you, as I find solutions for you in the Legislature – I will be the voice of the voiceless.

The NDP will implement a $15 minimum wage over the next four years, easing into it to help small businesses with the transition. Higher paid employees are happier, work harder, & have more money to spend locally. A high tide raises all ships.

(For more information, check out page 5 of Our Commitments on nbndp.ca)

3. What is your vision for the future of the Milltown Generating Station?

I was writing out a long, elaborate response to this question, with quotes, & references… then I remembered that I am not an expert on this matter. Two of my opponents, however, are – Rod is a biologist. Kim has a masters in environmental management.

As a politician, as a human being, you need to know what your strong suits are. You need to know when to speak, & when to listen. On this matter, I’ll listen to Rod & Kim any day. They will be excellent resources for matters like these when I’m MLA.

4. Where do you stand on the issue of a year-round ferry for Campobello?

This pandemic will drag through the winter months, which doesn’t leave many options for the good people of Campobello. When they’re in need of essential services like banking, getting groceries, even filling their tank, it becomes an inconvenience for them. Travelling through the United States isn’t exactly practical, nor is it the best idea with COVID in full swing south of our border. Our friends need a safe passage to the main land. The ferry provides that… weather permitting, of course.

5. What will be the first issue you tackle if you are elected as MLA?

It seems like the cost of pharmaceuticals has been getting higher & higher as the days pass by. Some people are spending hundreds, even thousands of dollars a month on medication just to live in as little pain as possible. Medication that costs cents to make is put on the market in the three or four figure ballpark. This needs to end.

With Tommy Douglas at the helm, the NDP created Medicare. More than half a century later, we look to change the medical system again, with Universal Pharmacare – medication coverage, for all New Brunswickers, covered in a collaborative effort by the provincial & federal governments.

(For more details, check out page 7 of Our Commitments on nbndp.ca).

6. Who is your favourite Marvel movie character?

Anyone but Hawkeye.

Rod Cumberland, People’s Alliance Party

1. Why are you running for the position of MLA in Saint Croix?

First, I believe the people of St. Croix deserve REAL Representation. I believe that I can provide that strong voice for the people – one not influenced by party politics or whipped votes. Second, I believe that I can use my experience, networks and expertise to address local issues and to practically help the people in St-Croix.

An example of REAL Representation and leveraging my experience, network and expertise to addressing the local issues is improve the existing efforts for nuisance deer in St. Andrews. As a wildlife biologist for more than 25 years, I have expertise in deer management and control, and have proposed a four-step program called “DEER”:

1. Develop a low-cost trail camera system to survey the herd and collect the buck/doe ratios;

2. Examine the survey data to determine the appropriate removal levels to achieve true herd reduction;

3. Erect several 4-poster feed stations that treat deer and reduce the incident of ticks and Lyme disease – providing REAL protection to the public;

4. Re-instate venison donation program to provide food to the needy.

This is just one example of how with my experience and working together we can see REAL solutions in our community!

2. What do you believe is the most important issue in the riding?

There are many, and ranking them by timing and importance is tough.

Although I have heard that the most immediate concern for most people is finding our “new normal” post pandemic (specifically, as it relates getting back to work and school), there are many seniors issues that need immediate attention. Once I summarize concerns I heard from residents, I’d like to develop a list of items to tackle. I have heard a number of great ideas where local initiatives need government to step aside to allow for economic growth. I think we have tremendous potential to generate this through tourism and improving our ability to attract good paying jobs. Our experience with IKEA suggests this requires some changes to the Crown Lands and Forest Act to allow new businesses to relocate to the area and ending taxpayer funded spraying of glyphosate .

Our party is also pushing for tax reforms, developing an affordable housing program and ensuring language issues that have been driving a wedge in our province are removed by common sense approaches to job hiring and service provision, and not favouring one over the other.

3. What is your vision for the future of the Milltown Generating Station?

I have been involved in discussions with various groups and individuals from all sides of this issue with the Milltown GS. I believe given the huge price tag to decommission it and considering both the positive and negative environmental impacts , that serious consideration must be given to refurbishing the facility and continue to produce electricity. Benefits include maintaining hydro power – green power -we need more green power on our system, not less; It creates employment, and we need more good paying jobs in our area, not less; It is an iconic landmark for tourism, fits nicely with the trail we are developing and this has potential for spin-off employment. It seems more reasonable based on the data we currently have and the proposal presented to the town that rather than burdening the taxpayers with a $20 million dollar decommissioning cost, we have a real opportunity to invest, improve, and retain the facility to produce local power.

4. Where do you stand on the issue of a year-round ferry for Campobello?

I have had the opportunity to speak to many constituents about the ferry service to Campobello. I have also spoken with Maine DOT, NB DOT, ferry service providers, mail carriers, customs, fishermen and many others. Based on all these conversations, I believe that the best solution is to provide islanders with an extended ferry service from April (earlier) to November (later) to meet the needs of the people. Based on previous reports and the weather on the Bay, winter service may not be very pragmatic – but several trips on occasion when weather permits may allow for needed services to access the island. Additionally, this operation should be treated just like all other NB ferries, and be subsidized for residents so they need not pay the travel fee. If this is done wisely, I believe working with our capable residents, we can develop a cost-effective solution that will allow government to also address programs for youth, a transfer station, reliable health care and better internet that Islanders have told me are just as critical to the island

5. What will be the first issue you tackle if you are elected as MLA?

I want to help our seniors. Many seniors struggle with coping with the energy costs during the coldest months of the year and affording prescriptions and even daily necessities. Their income remains the same but the cost of energy, food, and other items continue to increase. Our party has promised to more than double the Home Energy Assistance Program from $100 to $250 for households that have an annual income under $30,000. That improvement will allow for seniors to keep more money in their pockets for other necessities like prescriptions and groceries. I have also heard many other areas of concern, and would like to initiate a seniors advisory group to learn more about these issues, and together develop real solutions to these and other emerging problems

6. Who is your favorite Marvel movie character?

Although I admire the character of Cap, it would be Iron Man. He has a tough exterior, a sharp mind for solving problems and a friendly interior. Also, if you recall, in End Game, Iron Man is ultimately the guy who takes out Thanos…while other super heroes were saying they would get the job done…in the end, it is Iron Man who gets the job done!

Kathy Bockus, Progressive Conservative Party

1. Why am I running for the position of MLA in Saint Croix?

Listening to people and helping them with their issues is something I’ve done all my life. I want to keep doing that.

I am a member of this community, a volunteer, a journalist and was the constituency assistant to the late Greg Thompson.

It was in this last role I gained invaluable experience helping people navigate government to find solutions to their problems.

I am asking for the opportunity to continue to put that experience to work for the people of this riding.

Because of Covid-19 we find ourselves in situations like no other. But we are strong and resilient. And it shows.

New Brunswick is leading the way in economic recovery. Businesses and jobs must remain viable in our region and our province to enable people to support their families.

We need the leadership of Blaine Higgs to continue, to guide that economic recovery and steer our province through this next phase.

And we need someone like me to represent Saint Croix, someone like me who has worked with, and challenged, all levels of governments.

2. What do you believe is the most important issue in the riding?

I would have to say the importance of a number of issues would depend on where you live.

In all four municipalities, I access to affordable housing is a top general priority.

In St. Stephen, it would be the issue of the decommissioning of the Milltown Dam, economic recovery after Covid and its effects on businesses and town-owned facilities, especially that of the Garcelon Civic Center.

In Campobello, whether or not the island needs or wants a year-round ferry service, and access to recreational facilities.

McAdam, economic recovery after the recent closure of the Gypsum Mill. and in Saint Andrews, the continuing effort to control the deer population, and the continuation of its wharf upgrades and restoration.

In Bayside residents there are concerned with the rezoning of rural land where residential properties exist which would allow the construction of a plant to house lobster catches.

The Milltown Dam consultation process has not been completed and the Bayside quarry rezoning is still in the application process with final decision reserved by the Minister of ELG once opposition and support is received by Sept. 9.

3. What is your vision for the future of the Milltown Generating Station?

The message from the government on the future of the dam has been very clear. Nothing will happen until the process is completed.

And that process is to involve community members, which is ongoing, as well as the municipality, stakeholder groups and the utility. The final component of the process is an Environmental Impact Assessment which has not yet been done.

I’m waiting to see what EIA reveals.

I discussed this with Minister Mike Holland just this week and he said no decision will be made until that entire process is complete.

I know there are those who are equally passionate about saving part of our heritage and continuing to support sources of green energy as well as those who want the St. Croix River to flow more freely and bring it back to its natural state in hopes the many fish species will return.

I personally want to know all the facts, not speculate when the process isn’t complete

4. Where do you stand on the issue of a year-round ferry for Campobello?

Here again, we need all the facts. The first feasibility study revealed it would cost $40 million for a ferry and new infrastructure, plus $2-$3 million a year in operating costs.

The council of the time said if there was that much money to be had, they’d rather spend it on low income housing or a community recreational centre since it can’t gain access to the local school after hours.

I know some residents would rather see an extended season, while others want a year round service The pandemic seemed to heighten the need for alternative ways off the island for residents that didn’t include travelling through the state of Maine.

I’d like to see the province start with subsidies for island residents and an extended season before we commit to a year round service.

I’m suggesting a plebiscite during the municipal elections instead of a mail in survey to get accurate,current numbers of those supporting it and those against.

5. What will be the first issue you tackle if you are elected as MLA?

Well, there wouldn’t be just one. Because I’m a woman, I can multi-task!

Seriously, it would be whichever issue was in the forefront.

If Ted Flemming is returned as Health Minister I want to begin immediately cooperating with the Charlotte County Hospital Foundation on its 10-year strategic plan for the future of our hospital. Ted fully supports local input in the decision making process.

All of the issues in our riding are fluid, evolving, just like our response was to Covid-19. As we learned more about the virus we took different actions, based on medical science, based on facts.

That’s why we have to be flexible and informed to know which issue to tackle at the proper time to get the best results.

Some of the issues facing us need studies to complete them, others need decisions on where the money will come from to make them happen.

6. Who is your favourite marvel movie character?

I can honestly say I don’t have a favourite. I haven’t seen enough of the movies to really pick a favourite.

I do like Tony Stark’s character Iron Man, just because of the technology and special effects and mostly because of the amusing dialogue in the movies in which that character is featured.