St. Stephen – Rod Cumberland has announced his intention to seek the nomination of the People’s Alliance in the upcoming by-election.
Premier Blaine Higgs has yet to set a date for by-elections in both Saint Croix and Shediac Bay-Dieppe, whose seats have been left vacant after the death of MLA Greg Thompson and the resignation of the former Premier, Brian Gallant. According to the Elections Act, Higgs has until six months after the confirmed vacancy of Thompson’s seat before a by-election must be called.
Cumberland, who was fired from the Maritime College of Forest Technology in June has filed a lawsuit against the College alleging that he was terminated for his views on glyphosate spraying. He said that after he was fired he wasn’t sure what his next course of action should be. Many people counselled him to go to the government for help, but Cumberland said people in government essentially ignored him, and he wonders if that is because “they actually can’t do anything, or because they don’t want to because they are being influenced.”
“I think the balance of power has to change, and the importance of rural New Brunswick has to change,” he said. “Why do we give so much money to big companies? I’ve heard it said that they’re the only game in town, but that’s because we’ve made them the only game.”
Cumberland believes that the taxpayer subsidies which go to large corporations could just as easily go to helping small businesses revitalize rural areas.
The close relationships that governing parties have with large corporations in New Brunswick isn’t the only problem that Cumberland sees. He considers the party apparatuses of both major parties to be verging on undemocratic and harmful to people who live in rural areas. “If you send somebody to Fredericton from one of the major parties, they vote the party line. In my mind, I don’t see how that is democratic.”
“I never thought I’d consider politics,” said Cumberland, “but people in rural areas especially need to realize that just because they vote a person into office, and that person goes to the party that’s in power, that in no way guarantees that the constituents are going to get the things that they need and find important because the party whip is going to make sure that they vote along party lines.”
Cumberland’s decision to enter politics may be informed by his growing dissatisfaction with the way that the provincial government is too cozy with large corporate interests, but his decision to run here in Charlotte County is more personal.
“I have deep roots in Charlotte County,” he said, noting that his son and daughter-in-law, along with her family, all live here. “Our family camp is in Tower Hill, and I have partnered with the St. Stephen Museum, the Oak Bay Fire Department, the Town of St. Stephen and the Ganong Nature Park to bring the International Lumberjack championships to the area for the past 25 years.”
Cumberland says that over the years he has worked closely with the Quoddy Trappers, Schoodic Fish and Game, Meet Your Neighbor Men’s Club, and many other organizations and people in Saint Croix.
“Most know me, my values and my work ethic,” he added, “and based on the response from most I have spoken with, we have a lot of common ground.”