The People’s Alliance of New Brunswick were out in full force today near the train overpass by the Anderson Bridge in Miramichi, N.B. It was a strong crowd of people carrying their PANB & Stop Spraying New Brunswick signs, as well as the New Brunswick flag.
At the gathering I spoke to 69-year-old Claude Stewart, he is the current president of the Miramich Bay-Neguac People’s Alliance Riding Association. He has been apart of politics since 1978 and has been involved in many provincial and federal campaigns, and has voted for both Liberal and Conservative parties before supporting the People’s Alliance of NB.
Stewart got involved with the People’s Alliance of New Brunswick after looking at the previous governments results over the last few decades and he said
“There use to be a distinction between the two parties, the red, and the blue. Today they are very much similar in all their policies, the way they enact laws and legislations.”
After looking into the platform of the People’s Alliance of New Brunswick, Stewart said it immediately got his attention with their policies on issues. Currently, a main goal is that they want to return the voice of the people of New Brunswick back to the legislature!
When asked if he feels the Liberal and Conservative government have listened to the people of New Brunswick concerns Stewart said “Yes and no, but mostly no.”
He expressed concerns about how many Liberals and Conservatives go into the legislature and are told what to do, and how to vote. When it comes to that he stated “It’s really not a democracy”.
One of the major goals of the People’s Alliance is to return the voice of the people back to the legislature, and Stewart said that “its really about the grass-roots of it all”.
In essence, they want to have the people who elected the MLA’s in their area to have a voice in the legislature, how it should be!
Currently, Kris Austin is Leader of The People’s Alliance of New Brunswick. He first ran as leader in 2010 election where Austin received 19.63% of total votes. However, in the 2014 election he gathered 28.48% of the total votes & was up by almost 10%!
Austin was only 26 votes short of winning in his riding of Fredericton-Grand Lake. So it would come as no surprise if he takes the seat in the 2018 provincial election when the support for the party has grown dramatically in the province!
New Brunswick politics is no longer a two-party race, the People’s Alliance of New Brunswick have worked hard since they formed in 2010 during the Shawn Graham era and formed after the Liberal governments idea of selling NB power to Quebec.
As I stood on the side of the highway interviewing Stewart the horns from passing vehicles did not stop but only kept becoming louder, and more frequent. Which told me there is plenty of support for the party!
Stewart was first introduced to Kris Austin in 2012, and sense 2014 he has been involved heavily with the People’s Alliance of New Brunswick. When asked what about Kris Austin makes him support him possibly becoming the next Premier of New Brunswick.
“Kris is an individual with integrity, he’s got credibility, he’s got charisma, and he carries a lot of intellect. He seems different from what I’ve seen over the last fifty years in politics.”
While they had their party signs waving they also had Stop Spraying New Brunswick signs as well. So it should come as no surprise that the spraying issue is now apart of the People’s Alliance new platform with their website stating they want to “Ban glyphosate spraying on crown land.” which “would end the questionable effects on the environment, wildlife, and human health. It would also create up to 1000 forest management jobs.”
When asked if he supports the ban on spraying Glyphosate in New Brunswick Stewart believes that the people of New Brunswick are not being told the truth when it comes to spraying. He mentioned that Quebec has banned it, and Nova Scotia only allows it on private land.
New Brunswick now spends over $2M of taxpayers money to fund the spraying on crown lands for corporations like JD Irving.
Which leads to another area of the party’s platform which is ‘Corporate Welfare’ their stance is that they want to stop it all together!
Their website reads “Did you know that taxpayers fork out $300 million every year to big corporations in a misguided effort to create jobs? Research has shown this does very little for the economy and creates an unfair business environment.”
Currently, New Brunswick is the only province in Canada that has the double tax which many New Brunswicker’s want to see be eliminated, the People’s Alliance of New Brunswick say it does nothing but “penalizes property owners and small businesses”. Making it clear that their priority is to cut the tax! Which they say in turn “will stimulate the economy, lower rental fees for tenants, and create a competitive business environment with the rest of Canada.” According to Stewart, landlords have to add 30% to New Brunswicker’s rent because of the double tax.
One major hot topic is bilingualism, as New Brunswick is the only province in Canada to officially be bilingual. It has been a major issue for years, but recently because of the separate buses for French and English students. When asked the parties stance on bilingualism Stewart said
“We support bilingualism! However I think it needs to be done in a more fair way, by the demographics and geographic. We are about equality for all New Brunswickier’s, whether it be First Nations, the French, the English, we just want to bring equality where there is no equality today.”
On the topic of equality, I asked Stewart where the party stands on LGBTQ issues as their site has no formal policy posted about the LGBTQ community. His response was his opinion, and he said “I support the right to any peoples groups, we are not to discriminate against anybody in the province. We are all breathing the same air, and as people we have to treat people with respect.”
As Claude Stewart is the president one of the Miramichi area ridings, I asked his stance when it comes to the P3 (public-private partnership) nursing home that Liberal Ministers Bill Fraser, and Lisa Harris announced Shannex got the bid for. When asked if privatization is the way to go Stewart said
“Well in that respect, there was 11,000 signatures that went out to Bill Fraser who was supposed to bring it to the floor of the legislature, and to my knowledge he never did. Now there is quite a few thousand more back on another petition, so obviously the Miramichi is not for privatization of our nursing homes.”
Stewart brought up the history of the Conservatives who just invested millions of dollars into the Mount Saint Joseph Nursing Home renovations, and the new nursing homes are not adding enough beds, therefore he “doesn’t see the economic value, or the value for the seniors” and he said he is against privatizing the nursing homes.
Most recently, the report has come out and the provincial debt is now $13.8B and when asked what he thought about that he brought the conversation back to confederation stating:
“Let’s do a little history lesson here, let’s go back to confederation back in 1867. It took from 1867 to 2014, to make a $12B debt. Now here we are in 2017 with almost a $14B debt, so this government has raised taxes, twelve times, they have raised hundreds of millions of dollars that just evaporate and we continue to make a debt!”
When it comes to the provincial debt Stewart said that what the current government is doing is clearly not working, and there are many issue that need to be addressed.
Stewart made the point to stress that we have been getting the same results from the same two governments for five decades, and if we continue of with this debt he believes “bankruptcy is inevitable”. In the end, he says it’s about common sense government!
So who is running for candidacy in the Miramichi ridings?
No people have officially come forward publicly to announce their intentions to run for the People’s Alliance in Miramichi Bay-Neguac however, Stewart confirmed that they have a person that is finishing up their paperwork and is a local RCMP from the area that he believes is a very strong candidate that has support throughout the riding, and is very well-respected!
As of today, Stewart said they have thirty-two ridings out of the forty-nine that they feel they stand a good chance of winning a seat in! As for his riding Stewart is very confident that in Miramichi-Bay Neguac they will win the seat!
For more information on their platform and details about The People’s Alliance of New Brunswick you can visit their website at https://www.peoplesalliance.ca