David Coon pledges to cancel forestry deals, hike corporate tax
Green Party leader would halt shale gas exploration and put a tax on sugar-sweetened soft drinks
Green Party Leader David Coon is promising to rip up the forestry contract signed by the Alward government, cancel shale gas leases and hike taxes on corporations.
Coon released his full election platform on Wednesday, in Fredericton, in front of the legislative assembly. He said the platform is very distinct from any of the other parties running in the Sept. 22 election.
"It represents a new way of thinking. It represents a hopeful and positive path to the future," he said.
"It puts New Brunswickers back in the driver's seat, in terms of where New Brunswick goes."
The Green leader continued his opposition to the Alward government’s Crown forestry policy by promising to introduce a new Crown Lands and Forests Sustainability Act and terminate the deals that have already been signed.
The New Brunswick government announced its new Crown forestry plan in March. The overall plan calls for the amount of softwood the forestry sector can take from Crown land to increase by 20 per cent.
If he is elected in the riding of Fredericton South and sitting in opposition, Coon said he would introduce a private member's bill to cancel the Crown forestry contracts.
If elected, the Greens would also halt all shale gas exploration licences and leases for shale gas extraction.
Coon said the party would also aim to have 100 per cent of the province’s electricity come from renewable sources within 20 years.
Greens would hike corporate taxes
The party platform also called for a series of tax increases and other measures to increase revenue.
The corporate tax would be increased to 16 per cent from 12 per cent. He said that would put New Brunswick in line with Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island.
The move would raise roughly $68 million a year in new revenue.
Further, the provincial government would list how much each corporation paid in provincial taxes.
There is no free lunch and we have real, crying needs in this province and one of them is to tackle poverty and mental health.- Green Party Leader David Coon
There would also be a tax on sugar-sweetened soft drinks. The new tax would raise $15 million and the Greens would put that money to school meal and wellness initiatives.
The idea of taxing junk food has been raised in the last week by experts looking at ways to reform the health sector.
The Greens would also impose tolls on commercial traffic entering or leaving New Brunswick.
The party did not provide an estimate of the cost of this promise, saying the Department of Finance refused to offer any projections.
The Alward government floated the idea of putting tolls on provincial highways during pre-budget consultations. The Department of Finance estimated in 2013 that it could raise $30 million in highway tolls.
Coon defended his party's tax increases and other revenue-generating initiatives, saying they are sorely needed.
"There is no free lunch and we have real, crying needs in this province and one of them is to tackle poverty and mental health," Coon said.
"So we have put money into doing that and you have to find it somewhere, so we increased the corporate tax rate to the level of Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island to do so, and we put a tax on sugary drinks so we can put money into the school system."
The Green leader said he believes the new spending that is detailed in his platform target specific needs.
"A lot of the main spending that is in our platform is really related to addressing poverty and addressing the issue of ensuring that our children can reach their full potential," he said.
Coon is running in Fredericton South against Progressive Conservative Craig Leonard, Liberal Roy Wiggins, NDP Kelly Lamrock and independent Courtney Mills.
A Corporate Research Associates poll that was released on Tuesday indicated the Greens are in fourth place with four per cent of decided voters.