Green Party focus to build local economy, says Coon
Newly elected leader says local food movement gains momentum
David Coon, conservationist and newly elected leader of New Brunswick's Green Party, said he's going to champion building an economy of local reliance.
Coon, considered one of the province's leading environmentalists, was elected leader of the New Brunswick Green Party on Saturday.
Coon said his vision for the future of New Brunswick includes support of local industries.
"We focus more of our efforts on development on our communities, provide them with more of the authority and resources to really create the opportunities right here at home and help retain the wealth that's generated here instead of exporting it," said Coon.
He said there are already people moving in that direction.
"Whether it's building the local food system, which is just gaining momentum tremendously, or going a different way with energy by building homes that use very little and rely on renewable sources," he said.
"It's quite exciting, and as leader, those are the kinds of things that I want to champion."
Coon, executive director of the Conservation Council of New Brunswick, and member of the council for 28 years, said he would step down from his position but would still maintain his membership.
Coon said it will be a challenge to get elected to the legislature, largely because the party is only four years old in the province.
"I think we have some work on the ground to do to get people past the label, to understand what we stand for and what our vision is," he said.
But he thinks New Brunswickers are fed up with their politicians being in a constant state of running for re-election.
"One of the key things that people are so cynical about, with regard to politics, is this hyper-partisanship that we seem to have gotten ourselves into," said Coon.
"There are constant efforts to undermine the other guy and one-up them, I think people are just fed up with that."
Coon said he disagrees with people who say the Green Party's policies tend to skew anti-development.
"I think they haven't read them. I think people will discover, soon . . . that the Green Party's program is something they will be able to get behind," he said.
Coon also responded to questions about how his party, if elected, would deal with more complex social issues not related to the environment. He said, for him, the debate surrounding duality and bilingualism in the province is not that complicated.
"It's a question of social equality," said Coon. "We need to continually strive in that direction to secure a language and culture for all of our peoples in the province, and that includes First Nations as well as the Acadian community."
Coon won Saturday's leadership convention with 131 votes to Roy MacMullin's 77.
About 200 delegates attended Saturday's convention in Fredericton.