New Brunswick·Election Notebook

Farmers group opposes pledges to ban glyphosate

An organization that represents New Brunswick farmers is worried about the promise some party leaders have made to ban glyphosate spraying.

Green Party releases its platform for the Sept. 14 election

election notebook (CBC News)

Latest

  • Liberals promise home renovation incentive program 
  • People's Alliance promise to rebate personal care assistants
  • Green Party releases 2020 platform
  • NDP pledges to keep rural hospitals open
  • Where the leaders are today

An organization that represents New Brunswick farmers is worried about the promise some party leaders have made to ban glyphosate spraying.

The Liberal and Green parties have vowed to eliminate glyphosate spraying, with the former pitching to phase out the controversial herbicide over a four-year period.

"If the next elected government takes the course toward banning glyphosate, this decision will deeply affect a wide variety of New Brunswick farmers who grow crops such as potato, fruit, vegetable, cereals, pulse, corn, canola and soybean," said Lisa Ashworth, president of The Agricultural Alliance of New Brunswick.

In a news release, Ashworth said farmers across the province are concerned that calls to eliminate glyphosate spraying are "being made in haste," creating an environment of unpredictability in the agriculture sector. 

She said products like glyphosate are some of the most "important and safest tools" available to provide crop management to growers in New Brunswick.  

Three party leaders have opposed glyphosate spraying during the 2020 election campaign. (CBC)

"For farmers to remain competitive in the world market and support your local economy, we need access to the most effective tools to manage weed, insect, and disease problems that can threaten the quality, value, and quantity of our crops," she said.

The controversial weed killer has been used by NB Power to clear vegetation around power lines and has also been used by forestry companies such as J.D. Irving Ltd.

Progressive Conservative Leader Blaine Higgs said earlier this week that his government has reduced glyphosate spraying by 30 per cent by expanding bans within designated watersheds and on NB Power transmission lines within Crown land.

People's Alliance Leader Kris Austin hasn't promised to eliminate the spray, but he has opposed glysophate spraying on public lands.

Progressive Conservative Leader Blaine Higgs was preparing for a leaders TV debate Thursday night, but here is what the other leaders were talking about.

Liberals promise home renovation incentive program 

Liberal Leader Kevin Vickers says his government will implement a home renovation incentive program that focuses on energy efficiency. 

At a stop in Oromocto, Vickers said making homes more energy efficient is not only good for the environment by reducing energy consumption but it will also help New Brunswickers reduce their monthly bills.

"Many New Brunswickers have felt financial pressures and uncertainty due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but need to make renovations to their home," he said.  

Under the new program, Vickers said his government will contribute 50 per cent of a home renovation project to a maximum of $2,500 per household. But the work would need to be done by a licensed contractor.

Vickers, who has been promising he can make New Brunswick's economy rebound, said the program would be another economic boost for the province. 

Liberal Leader Kevin Vickers says his government will implement a home renovation incentive program that focuses on energy efficiency.  (Maria Burgos/CBC)

He said the program would help small contractors get a "kick start to their business" and hardware stores would see an increase in sales."

During his announcement, Vickers took another jab at Higgs, claiming his government has ignored New Brunswick's economy.

"New Brunswick is the province that has invested the least in the economic recovery initiatives," Vickers said.

"Blaine Higgs wants to think that everything is back to normal but our businesses are still feeling the repercussions of the COVID-19 pandemic."

People's Alliance promises rebate to personal care assistants  

People's Alliance Leader Kris Austin is pledging to work alongside home-care organizations and their employees so more New Brunswick seniors can live at home.

Austin said they will do this by pledging a percentage of the $2,000 educational training costs for personal care assistants in the form of a rebate.

The Alliance leader said personal care assistants provide seniors with help with things including medications, foot care, bathing, dressing and housekeeping.

"It's undeniable that remaining at home is the best place for seniors to live provided they are safe," he said outside Harvey Outreach for Seniors, a local organization dedicated to helping seniors.

"Being at home allows seniors to retain much of their independence. Their emotional and physical wellbeing is often tied to being in familiar surroundings."

Green Party Leader David Coon released his party's platform in Fredericton Thursday. (Maria Burgos/CBC)

Meanwhile, Austin said his party also pushed government to increase personal care assistants' hourly wages to more than $15 starting this October.

Green Party releases 2020 platform

The Green Party released its 2020 election platform online Thursday, promising everything from action on climate change to increases in minimum wage and sweeping tax, education and municipal reform. 

Here are some of the things the Green Party would do:

  • Lower the legal voting age to 16.
  • Tax high sugar drinks to discourage their purchase.
  • Raise the minimum age to purchase tobacco and vaping products to 21, while also banning the sale of flavoured vaping products designed to appeal to children.
  • Ensure vaccination records of all New Brunswickers are tracked and kept up to date, and that vaccines are readily accessible.
  • Provide residents of Campobello Island with a year-round ferry to the New Brunswick mainland.
  • Adequately fund public universities so they can gradually reduce tuition fees. The long-term goal is to achieve free tuition.
  • Provide free language training programs in both official languages.
  • Immediately increase minimum wage to $15 and index it to the rate of inflation, while providing support to small businesses so they can adapt to the new salary requirements.
  • Increase the budget of the commissioner of official languages to promote the advancement of both official languages.
  • Set targets to reduce food imports and establish a standard logo to identify New Brunswick-grown and -produced foods.

The party's plan also covers a wide range of traditional Green issues, including the banning of all new sources of climate-changing fossil fuels, including shale gas. Instead,  party leader David Coon, said the focus should be on renewable energy. 

People's Alliance Leader Kris Austin is promising to work with home-care organizations and their employees so more New Brunswick seniors can live at home. (Ed Hunter/CBC)

"We have two priorities: to keep New Brunswickers safe and secure in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, and to chart a path to recovery from COVID-19 that puts the well-being of people, and communities at the heart of government decision-making, while protecting the natural environment on which we utterly depend," Coon said during an announcement in Fredericton.

He also promised to let schools manage their own budgets based on their priorities and to abolish government funding to companies that use tax havens to avoid paying  taxes in New Brunswick. Coon said the party would also boost local food supply and fund the restoration of historic buildings. 

Coon did not say how much the changes would cost, but said the party would "spend money where it matters, not where it doesn't."

NDP pledges to keep rural hospitals open 

In Fredericton, NDP Leader Mackenzie Thomason said he party would avoid closing hospitals in rural communities. 

Earlier this year, the PC government tried to cut emergency room services at six hospitals in the province, including the Sussex Health Centre.

But a week later, Premier Blaine Higgs withdrew the plans, saying he couldn't move forward without addressing the public's fears.

NDP Leader Mackenzie Thomason repeated his promise for universal pharmacare and to fund Clinic 554 in Fredericton. (Maria Burgos/CBC)

Throughout the election campaign, Liberal Leader Kevin Vickers and Higgs has also promised to keep hospitals and emergency rooms open in rural areas. Green Party Leader David Coon promised to restore autonomy to local hospitals and health centres.

Thomason said his party would work with New Brunswick Medical Society and university nursing programs to ensure New Brunswickers have adequate health care for "decades to come." 

Thomason reiterated that an NDP government will restore funding to Clinic 554 in Fredericton so it can continue to offer abortions to women and health care to the LGBTQ community. 

Where the leaders are today

PC Leader Blaine Higgs will be making an announcement at 10 a.m. in Fredericton.

Liberal Leader Kevin Vickers will be making an announcement at 10:30 a.m. in Moncton.

Green Party Leader David Coon will make an announcement at 11 a.m. in Memramcook.

NDP Leader Mackenzie Thomason will be doing interviews and campaigning.

People's Alliance Leader Kris Austin will be campaigning. 

Standings at dissolution: PCs 20, Liberals 20, Greens, 3, People's Alliance 3, independent 1, vacancies 2  

For complete coverage | Links to all New Brunswick votes 2020 stories

About the Author

Elizabeth Fraser

Reporter/Editor

Elizabeth Fraser is a reporter/editor with CBC New Brunswick based in Fredericton. She's originally from Manitoba. Story tip? elizabeth.fraser@cbc.ca

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