New Brunswick

Green MLA Kevin Arseneau says he'll put Kent North first

Kent North's newest MLA, Kevin Arseneau says he will represent the people of the riding before he represents the Green Party interests.

Kevin Arseneau says he was approached by Liberals and PCs but wasn't asked to cross the floor

Kent North MLA Kevin Arseneau said he was approached by the Liberals and PCs but wasn't asked to to join either party in efforts to govern. (Tori Weldon/CBC)

Kent North's newest MLA, Kevin Arseneau, says he will represent the people of the riding before he represents Green Party interests. 

"I have a problem with this tight, tight party line, where you have to — and I've heard horror stories from other politicians of how they use the party line to intimidate MLAs into taking certain decisions." 

If I represent these people, I've got to feel, understand, experience what they're living. - Kevin Arseneau, elected in Kent North

Arseneau said that's not the type of politics he wants to be a part of, and suggested he ran because the Green Party agrees.

"I really like the fact that, you know, I get to represent the people of Kent North before putting the interests of the party first."

Arseneau won the formerly Liberal seat with 4,056 votes, one of three wins for the Greens on Monday. 

"During my campaign I wanted to understand — I have to represent some fishermen — if I wanted to understand what they were doing, I wanted to go on a boat for a whole day." 

Even though people cautioned him from spending too much time doing that, Arseneau said he felt he had to. 

"If I represent these people, I've got to feel, understand, experience what they're living." 

Arseneau described this as the on-the-ground way he plans to do his job as MLA. 

Change wanted

As he campaigned door-to-door, Areseneau said, he was told over and over that people wanted a change. 

"They told me they were fed up with this blue-red kind of always fighting together. And we see that they're continuing to do it."

He was referring to Premier Brian Gallant and Progressive Conservative Leader Blaine Higgs each expecting to govern after a close election left the PCs with one more seat than the Liberals.

"Both of them are wanting to grasp on power instead of just working together for the better of everyone." 

Arseneau said he believes this is why so many voters were fed up. 

I told them basically, we have met already with the Green caucus and we're converging today to meet in person and having a long work meeting about this. - Kevin Arseneau

"This is what I was hearing at the door, and I was giving them a message a lot more positive."

The Green Party and People's Alliance will each have three seats in the legislature, which could give the Greens or the Alliance some unexpected influence.  

Arseneau said his campaign included supporting all cultures and languages, and he wants to continue working the same way, rather than being like the People's Alliance, which he said is causing division.

"In the riding, we've stopped shale gas by coming all together," he said.  

No rush for alliance

Arseneau said the Green Party is in no rush to form alliances with any other political party, he said.

Representatives of other parties have been in touch and want an answer right away, but the party is taking its time replying.

"We're going to take a little bit of time and talk about it and see what the different options are and try to chose the best option for my riding and for the people of New Brunswick as a whole." 

Arseneau confirmed he was himself approached by other parties about possibly sitting down and talking with them or working with with them but said there were no invitations to cross the floor. 

"I told them basically, we have met already with the Green caucus and we're converging today to meet in person and having a long work meeting about this."

When asked who the Green Party would likely form an alliance with, the new MLA said he wasn't sure, since the party has a trust and confidence problem with the Liberals and an ideology​ problem with the PCs. 

With files from Information Morning

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