PCs say they've reduced glyphosate spraying by 30%, but make no promises to stop it
A roundup of what party leaders are saying, and where they're going to be
- Higgs embraces ban on single-use plastics
- Austin pledges to strengthen local food supply
- Vickers would eliminate interest rates on student loans
- Coon promises better internet access for rural areas
- Where the leaders are today
PC Leader Blaine Higgs made his own glyphosate announcement this week — a day after the Green and Liberal parties pledged to stop forestry companies from spraying the herbicide altogether.
Although, he didn't promise to eliminate glyphosate spraying entirely, he said spraying has already been reduced by 30 per cent by expanding bans within designated watersheds and on NB Power transmission lines within Crown land.
The controversial weed killer has been used by NB Power to clear vegetation around power lines and has also been used by forestry companies like J.D. Irving Ltd.
On Tuesday, the People's Alliance, which also opposes glysophate spraying on public lands, insisted Department of Natural Resources staff were doused with the herbicide while fighting a forest fires in the Chipman area. Nick Brown, a spokesperson for the Department of Natural Resources, told CBC News there was no such incident.
Campaigning Tuesday, Higgs said he was aware of the complaint.
"We expect companies to spray safely and not to expose individuals as part of the process," he said.
Environmental advocates and many New Brunswick residents have opposed the use of the chemical, arguing it's a carcinogen.
Here's what else the leaders are talking about.
Higgs embraces ban on single-use plastics
PC Leader Blaine Higgs has promised to ban single-use plastic bags and plastic bottles and to expand a glass-recycling program that started in 2019. He's also promised stricter enforcemet efforts to reduce illegal dumping.
"Our government is prioritizing the environment," Higgs said in Moncton on Tuesday.
In the spring budget, the Higgs government allocated $36 million to programs related to climate change. The PC leader said this will include energy efficiency programs such as upgrading buildings and infrastructure with green technology, and making sure communities have the tools they need to plan for and adapt to flooding.
In 2018 and 2019, New Brunswickers saw unprecedented flooding, which damaged homes, cottages and infrastructure, especially along the lower St. John River.
"Our government believes firmly that we can build economic wealth while also protecting the environment," he said. "We just have to work smarter and be prepared to seize the opportunities."
He said his government also put $9.1 million in the Environmental Trust Fund, which is supposed to help protect the natural environment.
Higgs said he would also hold major producers responsible for plastic packaging and printed paper waste through an extender producer responsibility program. The program introduced in 2019 is still under development but will allow New Brunswickers to recycle more products from their homes, commercial buildings and schools, Higgs said.
"We don't want to see plastic in our waterways or our landfills piling up with materials that can never be decomposed," he said.
Austin pledges to work with farmers to build local food supply
People's Alliance Leader Kris Austin is promising to work alongside the agricultural sector to strengthen the local food supply and economy in New Brunswick.
His plan includes helping to ensure temporary foreign workers are allowed to move permanently to the province to live and work.
Despite New Brunswick's rich agricultural land and long history of farming, Austin said, the province's food security is at risk because most of its food is imported from other countries.
"The issue here in New Brunswick, as seen in the pandemic, is that the food supply chain and food security in this province have been disrupted because of the pandemic," he said in Sussex.
"The concern is that, going forward, food prices are going to increase, and we are going to be less able to provide for ourselves."
Austin said his party would put money into agricultural infrastructure so farmers can produce more, meet the growing demand for local food and lessen New Brunswick's reliance on imported food.
Government agencies like Opportunities New Brunswick would focus on small businesses, in the Alliance plan. He reminded his audience that his party has long advocated the elimination of the small business tax.
"New Brunswick is without question, the highest-taxed province in the country, and we cannot expect businesses to grow here at home," he said.
"We cannot expect businesses to come here if we continue to tax any business out of any profit that they're able to make."
Vickers would reduce interest rates on student loans
Liberal Leader Kevin Vickers says he's made it his goal to make post-secondary education more affordable and accessible for students.
During a stop at the University of Moncton, Vickers said a Liberal government would eliminate the provincial share of interest rates on student loans for New Brunswickers living in the province.
Vickers said this would increase post-secondary accessibility for current and future students and also help borrowers who are still paying off their student loans.
"We believe that getting a post-secondary education should open doors, not make life more difficult," he said.
"Instead of worrying about growing debts, our graduates should focus on building their life, here in New Brunswick."
Right now, Vickers said, low-to-middle-income students and their families are paying more for their education than those who can pay without taking out loans.
"The elimination of the provincial share of interest rates for student loans will put more money in their pockets, money they can use as they move on from university and colleges," he said.
Instead, he said that money would be invested in New Brunswick.
Last week, NDP Leader MacKenzie Thomason promised a 25 per cent reduction in tuition, with the goal of eventually eliminating tuition altogether for students.
Coon promises better internet access for rural areas
Green Party Leader David Coon has promised to bring internet access to all regions of New Brunswick.
For years, village councillors and first responders in rural areas have been calling on government officials to improve internet access and cell service in smaller communities and the countryside.
Coon said he would call on internet providers to submit a solid action plan within the first six months of a Green government and to have it in place within a year.
If internet providers failed to come up with a concrete plan, Coon said he would be prepared to create a Crown corporation that would provide access to all regions of the province.
"The time for half-measures is over," he said in Nigadoo. "It is time for action."
Coon said he would also develop a government department of rural affairs and community development in light of the climate emergency.
The new department would be responsible for developing and implementing a regional development policy, support for renewable energy production and the protection and development of agricultural land.
"New Brunswickers want to be more self-sufficient and we can. All we need to do is tap into the creativity and vital energy that already exists in our communities."
Where the leaders are today
Liberal Leader Kevin Vickers will be making an announcement in front of the St. Stephen Hospital at 9:30 a.m. He will be making a second announcement at 1 p.m. in Saint John.
PC Leader Blaine Higgs will be making an announcement at 10 a.m. in Oromocto.
Green Party Leader David Coon will be making an announcement about renewable energy in Fredericton at 12:15 p.m.
People's Alliance Leader Kris Austin will be in Fredericton preparing for debates.
NDP Leader Mackenzie Thomason will be campaigning but details were not available.
Standings at dissolution: PCs 20, Liberals 20, Greens, 3, People's Alliance 3, Independent 1, vacancies 2
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