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2020 NB Election – Candidate Evaluations

Evaluation methodology

All political candidates for the 2020 NB Election in the ridings of Saint John-Lancaster, Portland-Simonds, Saint John Harbour, and Saint John East where contacted by FLIP SJ to participate in an elections candidate survey.

Candidates were told the survey was 15-questions that could be completed in approximately 10-15 minutes and included questions about themselves, the issues that matter to them, and the kinds of solutions they would like to offer. Candidates were also told their answers would be assessed by an independent panel, who would grade each of the responses. Panel members would not know the names of the candidate they would be assessing.

Candidates were additionally contacted through social media and phone. Ten candidates participated and were interviewed by phone. Candidates were not provided with the questions in advance, as the objective was to give each candidate an equal opportunity to provide honest, unscripted answers. Candidate interviews were transcribed in full, edited, and emailed back to candidates to confirm accuracy.

All candidates were asked the following questions:

Section 1: Get to Know the Candidate

  1. Why are you running in this election?
  2. Describe how your time living in your riding has informed your qualifications as a candidate?
  3. Describe how your time living in New Brunswick has informed your qualifications as a candidate?
  4. How does your experience (ie. education, lived experience, workplace) contribute to your qualifications as a candidate?
  5. If elected, what will be your top 5 priorities for your riding?

Section 2: FLIP Areas of Priority
What are your thoughts on the following areas? When applicable, please provide examples and solutions.

  1. LGBTQ+ and reproductive healthcare
  2. Access to mental health and/or addictions services
  3. Glyphosate use in New Brunswick
  4. Access to affordable housing in Saint John
  5. Police funding in Saint John
  6. Reporting and investigations of sexual assaults
  7. Municipal and Industrial Tax reform
  8. Access to public transit in Saint John
  9. Access to affordable childcare in Saint John
  10. Media Ownership in New Brunswick

Upon completion of the interviews, several FLIP members transcribed the audio and created an anonymous form for panelists to assess the candidate’s responses.

FLIP Saint John had 6 panelists from within FLIP and the Saint John Community:

  • Greg Hemmings: Local entrepreneur, filmmaker, B Corp business owner.
  • James Greening: Student. Worked in retail, I.T., and education. Volunteered with community radio and high school breakfast club program. Passionate about transit and healthy urban communities.
  • Sean Benjamin: Librarian and community activist focused on housing and policing
  • Drew Sweet: Local musician, community activist, interim board member of FLIP Saint John
  • Justin Maybe: Technology consultant for a major financial institution, patent holder and recipient of multiple awards of distinction. FLIP SJ contributor focused on political affairs, communications, and project work.
  • Lynaya Astephen: Travel and tourism degree, spokesperson for Leap4wards, spokesperson for Red Head Anthony’s Cove Preservation Association. Sales executive, chair of environmental committee with employee, on board of CCNB, chair of Just Transition caucus with NBEN

Panelists received assessment instructions, including some of the following exerts:
“The candidate evaluation is divided into 15 sections, 1 section for each question. Below each question, you will see each of the candidate responses below. Each response is to be rated based on the rubric shown below the question.
The first 5 questions evaluate the candidate’s interests, background, and priorities, and are evaluated on a scale of 1-5, based on their understanding of the 10 issues FLIP has identified.
The remaining 10 questions evaluate the candidates understanding of a problem, the solutions they propose, and their commitment or timeline to solve these problems.”

Additionally, panelists were also given the following assessment rubric for each section:

Section 1: Get to Know the Candidate
(Each response rated 1-5 by the panel, 25 points total)
*Assessment Rubric based on understanding and alignment with FLIP priorities
1 = Low alignment, indicates low understanding and/or interest
2 = Neutral alignment, indicates some understanding and/or interest
5 = High alignment, indicates a genuine understanding and/or interest

Section 2: FLIP Areas of Priority
(Each response rated 1-10 by the panel, 100 points total)
*Assessment rubric, based on awareness and commitment to solve issues
1 = Not aware of the issue, or does not see a problem
5 = Aware of the issue, offers no concrete commitment or timeline to solve
10 = Aware of the issue, offers concrete commitment or timeline to solve

We invite candidates, the media, and everyone from the public to download and share these interviews freely.

Candidate Interview: Don Durant

He/Him • Saint John Lancaster • NDP

Listen to the full interview

About the interview

We have reached out to all candidates in Saint John-Lancaster, Portland-Simonds, Saint John Harbour, and Saint John East ridings. All candidates were contacted via email, phone, and social media. 10 out of the 22 candidates responded, and each was interviewed by phone. Candidates were not provided with the questions in advance, as our objective was to give each candidate an equal opportunity to provide honest, unscripted answers. Candidate interviews were transcribed in full, edited, and emailed back to candidates to confirm accuracy. Below is the recording of the interview followed by a transcript. We invite candidates, the media, and everyone from the public to download and share these interviews freely.

All candidates were asked the following questions:

Section 1: Get to Know the Candidate

  1. Why are you running in this election?
  2. Describe how your time living in your riding has informed your qualifications as a candidate?
  3. Describe how your time living in New Brunswick has informed your qualifications as a candidate?
  4. How does your experience (ie. education, lived experience, workplace) contribute to your qualifications as a candidate?
  5. If elected, what will be your top 5 priorities for your riding?

Section 2: FLIP Areas of Priority
What are your thoughts on the following areas? When applicable, please provide examples and solutions.

  1. LGBTQ+ and reproductive healthcare
  2. Access to mental health and/or addictions services
  3. Glyphosate use in New Brunswick
  4. Access to affordable housing in Saint John
  5. Police funding in Saint John
  6. Reporting and investigations of sexual assaults
  7. Municipal and Industrial Tax reform
  8. Access to public transit in Saint John
  9. Access to affordable childcare in Saint John
  10. Media Ownership in New Brunswick

Interview Transcript

1. Why are you running in this election?

I’m running in this election because in a number of different aspects of my life I have filled a demographic that I don’t feel is properly being represented in Fredericton. I am not only LGBTQ but I grew up living in poverty. I work in the public service sector in healthcare. I also am married to an individual who is working in the education sector. So that’s just a few of the different demographics that, in my life, I have fit into that I don’t feel are properly being respected, that I don’t feel are properly being listened to. And I also don’t feel that we are properly represented by individuals who have lived experience in the same situations that myself and many people in our community lived through. So there comes a time when they say you can only complain for so long without actually taking action. So at this point I feel that it’s time that I stood up and made a statement and my statement was to go out for leadership.

2. Describe how the time living in your riding has informed your qualifications as a candidate.

So I’m running for Saint John Lancaster and I grew up in my riding. I grew up in between lower West Saint John and Fundy Heights. And then as I got older, I moved away for a little bit, but then when I came back, I moved back into Fundy Heights. I now live Upper West and throughout all my experiences living in the West side or in Lancaster I’ve seen some absolutely fantastic development, both in business and in the population, but one thing that I’ve really experienced living in this riding as an adult and as somebody who is, what I would like to consider more informed of the issues than when I was a teenager, or definitely more focused on youth issues, is that there is a large portion of our population that struggle day to day. And that’s one thing that I’ve learned, and one thing that I’ve been able to become more aware of, as someone living in the riding is that there’s a lot of things that could be made better with very simple decisions and very simple solutions and that is one of the main things that I’ve learned and one of the main things that I’ve been able to experience being in the riding.

3. Describe how your time living in New Brunswick has informed your qualifications as a candidate.

So I’ve had the lucky opportunity to be able to live elsewhere in Canada for short periods of time. So I’ve experienced different provinces and different cities both large and small, bigger and smaller than Saint John. Living in New Brunswick has really put into perspective how much we have, how much of a community we have, how much of a population that is dedicated to one another. And it’s something that you don’t experience anywhere else, but also it’s something that you don’t feel the passion anywhere else. One thing about New Brunswick that has particularly taught me is that kindness goes a long way, and that being an active member of your community can make a huge difference in a population as small as New Brunswick.

4. How does your experience (ie. education, lived experience, workplace) contribute to your qualifications as a candidate?

Well, as I mentioned before one thing that I have experienced over the past 10 years is working in the healthcare sector. So I’ve had the humbling experience of being able to work with not only acutely ill patients, but I’ve also been so proud to be able to say that I’ve worked with our geriatric and our elderly population in nursing homes. And most recently working in mental health and addiction with people that are struggling in our community, but not only struggling with their own illnesses, but struggling with the stigmas that surround it. And I think that really gives me insight into that particular area of concern in our province, which is under-supported, under-funded, and under-publicized issues in our healthcare system. I’ve had experiences both as a patient in healthcare, and now also as an employee in healthcare. And I’ll tell you, it’s definitely given me a different perspective of the population that I live in and the population I’m looking to represent. Another aspect of my lived experience is, as I mentioned before, I’ve had the opportunity to live in other parts of the country and not only the other parts of the country, but other parts of the world. And one thing that it has really developed in my viewpoint is discrimination. So not only am I LGBTQ, but I’m also mixed race, and I’ve been able to discover through lived experiences to see how different members of our society, both here in New Brunswick and abroad are treated differently. I would never say that my experience makes me an expert on the topic in any sense of the word, but it has definitely given me a new found respect for individuals who struggle day to day, just to be accepted. It has given me a new perspective to open my ears and close my mouth and listen to people’s experiences and their struggles rather than just trying to throw money or blind solutions at them.

5. If elected, what will be your top 5 priorities for your riding?

So the top five priorities for my specific riding would be the big one, which has been talked about by a number of different candidates, which is tax reform. Tax reform not only would affect New Brunswick as a whole, or Saint John as a city, but it would directly affect my riding because of a number of economic issues and developmental issues here in my own riding of Lancaster. Bringing more businesses, things like that. And it also helps we have one of the highest tax rates here in New Brunswick, right here in the city of Saint John, and tax reform would not only help keep more money in the hands of the individuals in my riding, which desperately need it, but it would also help with giving our municipality more money to be able to help with developments, help create health facilities here on the West side, help create social services here on the West side, help create and promote development of businesses and retail shops here on the West side.

The second thing that I would really focus on would be our transit system, and that kind of goes right in line with my passion towards tax reform. So our transit system, it impacts  our communities in two ways, the way that I see it, it impacts our communities with the people that are already living here by limiting their ability to transport themselves from one area of the city to another and where a lot of our services are held in the core area, our health services are in Millidgeville or the North End. And a lot of our retail services are in the East Side. It really, really impacts a person’s quality of life and ability to sustain that quality of life. The second part of that transit is to entice a growth of our economy and also to promote people from away and in other provinces and other countries to move here who may not have the ability to drive, or may not have the financial ability to purchase a vehicle or to take taxis, and I think it not only would help the individuals that are already living in our community to be able to live a better quality of life, but it would also help to entice people to move here, especially because transit is such an integral part of living in a greener economy and a greener world. The younger generation doesn’t see the ability to be able to live in that type of economy here because of the lack of transportation.

The third thing that I would like to look at in our specific riding would be again, development. So I won’t go back into tax reform, but development in the area, so that, though we will have better transportation, we will also have some of the services that are available in other parts of the city. And also other parts of the province right here in our community. Things like access to safe out-of-hospital abortions, things like access to family doctors right here in our own riding, access to things like getting blood work done right here without having to travel to the uptown core area or to Milledgeville to get that work done. And that’s just the health side of things. So there’s many other things that I would like to see grow here in the development of the West side.

The fourth thing that I would really like to focus on is of course, our education. So we’ve had the great opportunity here on the West Side to build a brand new school over recent years. Seaside Park Elementary is an absolutely beautiful facility to promote education to our young people here in our community, but there’s more needed. So of course you know, many people are aware that they struggle for a long time to be able to build things that promote the social development of children, things like our playground. And I would really like to see more focus on things like that, that not only help our children in their educational needs, but in their psychological and physical development as well, again, right here in our own community. So they don’t have to go to places like the Q-plex in Quispam, they don’t have to go to places like the Aquatic Center in Uptown Saint John. They don’t have to go to places like that when it’s not feasible for them or their parents. Young people are able to take part in physical and social development activities right here in our own area. And the fifth and final thing that I really think we need to focus on here in our area is housing. Housing, though a large portion of the upper and lower West Side and all that encompasses the West Side and Lancaster and the whole is houses, which is absolutely wonderful. It’s so great to be able to see such a large portion of the population own their own homes. That being said, I think we need to develop policies and procedures to make owning your own home more accessible to people who financially or physically are unable to do that. I think by doing that, we create stronger communities because when you own a piece of the community, you’re more apt to take care of the community. You’re more apt to be involved in the community, and you’re more apt to reach out and help other members of your community. Whereas if you’re living 1. paycheck to paycheck and 2. in someone else’s home in someone else’s building, you are less likely to get involved in that community and promote different aspects of it. And I think we have a great opportunity. We have so much space, undeveloped space, here on the West Side that wouldn’t impact our green areas, that we could definitely expand into things like co-op housing. We could expand into things like low priced, and I stress that, low priced condominiums. We can help by promoting things like garden homes, things that you’re not taking up a huge amount of the land for one home, but in the same sense, you’re giving people a piece of the community to be able to call their own. And those would be my main focuses here in Lancaster.

6. LGBTQ+ and reproductive healthcare

Well, I mean, the first thing that I would start with is reiterating the fact that every single individual in our province and I assume we’re talking on a provincial level here, not, specific ridings, but every individual in our province, regardless of how you identify, regardless of your sexual or gender diversity background, deserves access to healthcare. And I mean, we have spent over a hundred years developing what we already have. And I think it’s important that not only do we fulfill what’s described as rights to the individuals in our province, but that we expand on that. And we let it grow to a point where nobody has to ever worry about how they’re going to get access to support services, or medical services that help them live a more productive life and help them experience less trauma in their lives. So speaking directly to reproductive health and LGBTQ health, I think a great example of that is the current situation that’s going on with Clinic 554 in Fredericton. And it is not only -not- a private clinic, it is a public clinic where we have family doctors treat people from all different areas of walks of life, but it’s also a place where people can go and not feel stigmatized. People can go and not feel pressured to make a decision one way or another, whether it be about having things like an abortion or having proper counseling to decide, maybe someone decides that they don’t want to have an abortion, but we need to have those options in place. And we need to have those services in place to help people make an informed, factual decision based on what they want for themselves, because everybody’s body is their own. And whether we’re talking about people who are transitioning or people that are looking to, you know, have an abortion or have counseling to decide what to do in the situation that someone you know, unplanned got pregnant. I think it’s important that we put a lot more resources into those people, not only because it’s going to help the individual grow to be a stronger, more active member of society, but it’s also going to help the trickle down effect. It’s going to help with our mental health system. It’s gonna help with our homelessness. It’s going to help with all different areas of need in our province, because as the facts have stated, people who are forced to make a decision about their own lives, based on nothing but ignorance, which I would go as far as saying, it causes things like depression, it causes things like anxiety, it causes things like homelessness, it causes things like anger, which can lead to other forms of crime. It can lead to things like child abuse. It can lead to all different types of things. And I think if we just put more focus, not into specifically Clinic 554, but expanding that to other parts of the province to make every community accessible, I think we would see a huge drop in those other areas and those other issues within our community.

7. Access to mental health and/or addictions services

I would like to see them get treated and funded and supported in the same way that we see things like heart surgery, that we see things like cancer treatments, that we see things like diabetes. Because the reality is they are all in their own way very serious illness, whether you’re dealing with addiction, mental health or physical ailments, the reality is our bodies are all connected and mental health issues that are left untreated can develop into physical issues, which means in the long run, you’re affecting the tax payers, you’re affecting how much money is being spent on physical healthcare. When in reality, if we just dealt with the underlying issues, which are the mental health, the addiction, things like that, again, just as the last question I stated you would be able to help a lot of issues in our communities throughout the province without having to be reactive. If we were more proactive, the issues may be mitigated before they even start.

8. Glyphosate use in New Brunswick

So Glyphosate spraying has been a topic of conversation throughout, oh my goodness… I would say at least the last 10 years. It has become more and more of a concern of the people of New Brunswick, not only because of the ramifications to our personal health, but to our environment that we’re going to pass on to future generations. My personal feelings on the topic is, there are other ways and there are many other countries, there are many other communities, there are many other provinces, right here in our own country that are able to support a lumber industry, that are able to support a safer economy and a stronger economy without spraying chemicals into our environment. And, not even speaking specifically to that particular chemical, there are all different chemicals that I truly feel aren’t needed in order to sustain the sectors that we’re using these to sustain. And I’m using air quotes right now, and you can’t see it. The reality is they’re not needed. They’re truly not needed. These chemicals are not needed in our environment and they do more harm than good on all levels that you look at them, they do more harm to our wildlife, they do more harm to our environment, they do more harm to our personal health, they do more harm to our food industry, than what they’re actually helping them. And the reality is, I really don’t even think we should be having this conversation in 2020, but this is something that should have been stopped a long time ago. We are on a federal level, a member of the international organizations that fight against climate change that fight against things like oil and fossil fuel use. So the reality is how can we be on one side of it there and on the complete opposite side when it comes to spraying our forest and our crown lands with chemicals that do goodness knows what.

9. Access to affordable housing in Saint John

So access to affordable housing is not really existent here in Saint John. In my opinion, you’re either living in or being offered low income housing instead of mixed income housing, or you are being offered a $300,000 – $400,000 condo in one of the poorest areas of town. So it’s not really, our current process is not realistic.

10. Police funding in Saint John

So our police funding, I know there’s been a lot of talk about defund the police. I’m a big supporter of re-allocate the funding so that our police officers can be properly trained and so that they can focus on actual crime and the solving of crimes and gathering of information for crimes rather than attending a mental health welfare check. When we could be putting that funding towards mental health professionals, social workers, psychologists, psychiatrists, nurses, doctors that can better act and that can better deal with those particular situations. And I really think we need to look at not so much taking funding directly away from police, but reallocating it so that we’re properly supporting the people in our community.

11. Reporting and investigations of sexual assaults

Well, as we’ve seen in recent months and information that has come out in the general media and social media the actual focus on solving these issues and solving particular instances of sexual assault are in my personal opinion, severely under-focused. We really need to up our game because sexual assault is not a subjective matter. It is something that we need to take people at their word, and we need to investigate things and treat it like any other situation in law enforcement.

12. Municipal and Industrial Tax reform

Currently we have industries, large corporate industries that have been receiving tax breaks for many, many, many, many years. Not only tax breaks, but they have been able to avoid paying what people have considered ‘their share of the burden’ here in our city and in our economy. I think it’s really important. Industry definitely has more money than the common individual. And I think they definitely should be regulated and made to pay their share, so that the common individual and the common taxpayer isn’t trying to subsidize these corporations. We’re struggling as a community and as a province, as it is, it’s not realistic for us to be subsidizing corporate welfare. As it pertains to keeping more money in the city, it just makes sense if you’re paying the taxes in the city, obviously it makes sense that that money that is collected from both personal and industrial taxes stays in our municipality so that we can then reinvest in the community in which it is paying in.

13. Access to public transit in Saint John

So access to public transit in Saint John is, again, one of those situations that I would just consider non-existent when you have to spend an hour and a half to get from one point of our city to another, when driving a vehicle only takes 10 minutes. I wouldn’t say that is successful. You shouldn’t have to work your life around a very, very limited public transit system. And a very underfunded, public transit system. People use this transit system to get from their home to doctor’s appointments, to buy groceries, to see their family, to get to postsecondary education. The reality is, if you invest in the transit, you invest in the people.

14. Access to affordable childcare in Saint John

So access to affordable childcare is right up the same lines as access to transport or transit. So affordable childcare helps individuals get out of poverty. It helps them be able to get back into the workforce. It helps them get back into postsecondary education, better educate themselves, get involved in things like politics, get involved in things like community outreach programs, volunteer opportunities. There’s all kinds of things that really give some opportunities for them. But when you have to choose between going to work and having to pay for childcare, which for the most part, is not financially feasible, or staying home, staying on income assistance, staying on whatever, whatever funding you’re getting, because it’s just cheaper to take care of your own child. That’s not really an option. That’s not really a question in anybody’s mind. The reality is you’re going to choose the best option for your family. If we had affordable childcare, there wouldn’t be any questions.

15. Media Ownership in New Brunswick

So our media in New Brunswick is predominantly owned by one organization. And I won’t name or call out the organization, but the reality is, it is not unbiased. Our media in the province needs to diversify its’ ownership, it needs to be free to report in whatever viewpoint the individual chooses to report on. And it needs to able to be diverse in its focus because when one organization owns all of the media or quite large percentage of the media, it pinpoints the focus where that organization wants it to be. It does not give people diversity in what they’re seeing.

Candidate Interview: Alice McKim

She/Her • Saint John Harbour • Liberal

Listen to the full interview

About the interview

We have reached out to all candidates in Saint John-Lancaster, Portland-Simonds, Saint John Harbour, and Saint John East ridings. All candidates were contacted via email, phone, and social media. 10 out of the 22 candidates responded, and each was interviewed by phone. Candidates were not provided with the questions in advance, as our objective was to give each candidate an equal opportunity to provide honest, unscripted answers. Candidate interviews were transcribed in full, edited, and emailed back to candidates to confirm accuracy. Below is the recording of the interview followed by a transcript. We invite candidates, the media, and everyone from the public to download and share these interviews freely.

All candidates were asked the following questions:

Section 1: Get to Know the Candidate

  1. Why are you running in this election?
  2. Describe how your time living in your riding has informed your qualifications as a candidate?
  3. Describe how your time living in New Brunswick has informed your qualifications as a candidate?
  4. How does your experience (ie. education, lived experience, workplace) contribute to your qualifications as a candidate?
  5. If elected, what will be your top 5 priorities for your riding?

Section 2: FLIP Areas of Priority
What are your thoughts on the following areas? When applicable, please provide examples and solutions.

  1. LGBTQ+ and reproductive healthcare
  2. Access to mental health and/or addictions services
  3. Glyphosate use in New Brunswick
  4. Access to affordable housing in Saint John
  5. Police funding in Saint John
  6. Reporting and investigations of sexual assaults
  7. Municipal and Industrial Tax reform
  8. Access to public transit in Saint John
  9. Access to affordable childcare in Saint John
  10. Media Ownership in New Brunswick

Interview Transcript

1. Why are you running in this election?

I have spent 18 years telling students to speak up when they see something that is wrong. I have told them to write to powerful folks, to stand up and protest on the streets if necessary. And if they feel strong enough to run, even if they’re still 19 years old. So when asked by the [party name hidden], if I could put my skills and experience into the race to represent a party I believe in, a 2020 version of the [party name hidden] that I find to be very appealing. I said, ‘Yeah’. 

2. Describe how the time living in your riding has informed your qualifications as a candidate.

So I live about 500 meters outside the riding, I’m just to be clear, I’m in the North end. But I would say that, you know, any North Ender is of Harbour, regardless of where you draw the line, but I’ve lived at Saint John High School in a very real way. You know, kids, they come into the class every day and bring not only their academic knowledge, but their story. And my favorite part of being a teacher and working with students is after the lesson. Lunchtime, you know, somebody wants to sit down and talk. So I know these issues. I know that this riding, I walk around and I meet so many people that I already know, and this is my home.

3. Describe how your time living in New Brunswick has informed your qualifications as a candidate.

I’ve always lived in New Brunswick, always in Saint John with the exception of one year in Fredericton. I had the opportunity when running and winning the election to become the provincial Vice President of New Brunswick Teachers Association, which represents 200 schools, two years in a row. So really 400 stop ins. And again, it wasn’t just teachers that I met, you know, students from all over, I’m having my meals at the local Tim’s or a drink at the local trivia night. So I’ve been everywhere in this province and really, so many issues. So being here has certainly focused to me and I know the issues of New Brunswick, but traveling New Brunswick has put a lot of fire in me, we have issues across the whole province, but also so much potential.

4. How does your experience (ie. education, lived experience, workplace) contribute to your qualifications as a candidate?

So I didn’t love school when I was younger. I would take notes about how I thought the class could have been done better. And I decided in Grade Five, I wanted to be a teacher and went through with that. I really enjoyed university, studying Politics, History, English, Psychology. And I know that certainly not only that knowledge, but the kind of critical thinking that you get with that kind of an education. And so that was extremely beneficial. Seeing the issues of school and just the poverty, a number of students would suffer through working 30 hours a week on top of school just to pay the bills, you know, and I’m the one that has to wake them up because they’re exhausted. Certainly develop a great deal of empathy for those who are struggling in poverty. And while teaching a class called World Issues, is a relationship with a group of orphans in Uganda, kind of fell into my lap as a class. And we started Skyping with them and learning, we started raising funds. And because it went so loud and teachers share things that go well, it morphed into a registered charity that ran for seven years and had 62 schools around North America, half of them in New Brunswick Skype in twice a year. I went to Uganda three times and have seen extreme poverty up close. Fighting poverty is my number one concern. And when 50% of the children in Harbour, my home, are suffering through child poverty, unnecessarily, I’m fired up. And all of that has really informed where I’m at as a candidate.

5. If elected, what will be your top 5 priorities for your riding?

So we do have our top five published and pinned to the top of our Facebook page and my Twitter feed. So I can give you a short version. So number one was based off of the conversation with Don Darling and many other experts in that city who lived these issues. That’s the first thing I did on this campaign is talk to the people who really know their stuff. And Don said, the number one issue was for the industrial tax reform. Industrial taxes raise from heavy industry about $8 billion a year that we spread around to the profit that goes to provincial coffers. And it’s spread around as if we were Alberta equalizing the rest of the province, but we don’t have Alberta money. And so Don said that we should keep that, we need to keep that here. And so we worked really hard behind the scenes to pressure our own party into a commitment on about an hour ago, over at reversing falls, we heard [party name hidden] once again, make this commitment, on camera, during his announcement. And then all of the local candidates stood together, and we will be celebrating this because it plugs the Saint John budget gap, just like that. So priority one has been accomplished during the campaign, if we [party name hidden], and that’s the only way we get the $8 to $9 million. The second priority is municipal tax reform, kind of removing some of the incentives to leave the city core and improving our fiscal situation, to take care of infrastructure. And then for me, and for the campaign, we’ve been clear that urgent action on the climate crisis is required. That New Brunswick could be a global leader pushing forward with the kinds of technology that we could market to the world, how we did it. And I’m a big thinker like that, but so are my students. I’ve got thousands of ideas in my head that have been curated and fact checked and because they have to do that, we really can’t move fast. And when it involves shutting down for example, a coal fired power plant, you can’t just lay people off and send them home. You train them for the green economy and you make sure that they are paid while they train. So that’s our main issue. We have identified COVID, because you know, we’re talking about the second wave coming back as an inevitability, but if we were actually hunting for COVID the way some people are, you know, in other jurisdictions, you know, random sampling, we’ll find it before it finds out. It’s true that the committee that had all the leaders work together was a good idea. I give credit to the premier [party name hidden] is committed to continuing that. I will say, no, I’m not seeing this. A lot of group work as a teacher where, you know, five people work really hard on something and then one person goes to the front and takes the credit. It never ends well. So that is a priority of ours to make sure that we keep people safe. And finally, the South End School and Community Center. This thing is already planned and, you know, approved of that social license in the South End area. Everybody’s on board. The need is clear. And the benefit of having a seven day a week community center, the wraparound model for taking care of citizens from birth to grave. I mean, it’s timing, it’s science, the facts are clear, this fights poverty.

6. LGBTQ+ and reproductive healthcare

Two weeks before the election, I called for the resignation of the Minister of Education publicly and regularly, even though I knew it was a risk to my employment. And I did that because they cut the 10 Respect and Diversity positions, which were teacher’s specialists, and indeed members of the LGBT community who were going to go in and who were for years doing good work, helping to reduce racism and homophobia and transphobia and integrate refugees. They were just lumped together with math tutors, like math coaches and said that it’s all the same. And actually there were disparaging remarks. So I, you know, I’m on record saying the kids and everybody, we need more education on LGBT. We can’t close Clinic 554, we must fund it. In fact, things like that should be even more accessible. We are in violation of the Canada Health Act. And that is the only place where trans people like me receive the affirming, informed care that we require.

7. Access to mental health and/or addictions services

Incredibly important. I have students that wait months. And when it’s somebody in a mental health crisis, they need access immediately. We don’t have enough guidance counselors in our schools to deal with the doubling of anxiety and depression rates that this crumbling world and even climate crisis are helping to fuel and supercharge the pace of life. So we absolutely need to fund mental health care and de-stigmatize it much better. It’s one of the reasons I talked about my own depression a year ago, where I missed three months of work, first time it’s ever happened to me. The meds have really helped and one of the reasons why I’m strong enough to do this now. I love that the mayor talks about it. We all need to talk about mental health issues. We need a safe injection site in Harbour. This is not just me saying it, it is Duane Squires, president of the police union, who I spent two and a half hours with a week ago, because I had to learn. My campaign manager thought I needed to go out and meet people, and he’s right. But I just couldn’t stop learning from the police on this issue, compassionate harm reduction care. It is an illness, not a choice.

8. Glyphosate use in New Brunswick

With the [party name hidden] platform, the announcement was clear that glyphosates will be phased out on crown land over the next four years. If you ask me if I would personally like to be a little faster? Sure. But I am comfortable that a balance had been struck here, and that phasing this out over four years is going to accomplish a lot of good. I pressed for this after my conversation with Lynaya Astephen.

9. Access to affordable housing in Saint John

Not just affordable housing, but mixed income. It’s essential. That’s something Duane Squires and the mayor have talked about so that we can start reducing the ghettoization that happens when people flee their neighborhoods for a nicer apartment or a suburb. The investment needs to happen here. And I’ll just add to that, that the data is clear on people who are homeless. It actually really saved the tax payer a lot of money, like by a factor of two, if you put a roof over the head of everyone, we should not have homelessness. It’s not only immoral, but it is economically stupid.

10. Police funding in Saint John

I love the community police model. Duanne Squires is an excellent example, where you embed yourself in the community, you start to just check-in with people as you walk, like, how are you doing today? You end up playing in a basketball game with youth so that you’re not seen as the enemy. And I think that’s really important. And too often extremes on both sides, will paint the other as, you know, all cops are bad, which is of course false, or protesters are terrorists. And they want the police gone, which is also false. So we need to have more conversations between groups, particularly minorities who look out into the world and see the oppression, but also find systemic issues present in New Brunswick as well. And we need only look at the case of Chantelle Moore and know that work needs to be done through dialogue and action when necessary.

11. Reporting and investigations of sexual assaults

It’s incredibly sad that so many victims of sexual assault, the vast majority of them being women, go unreported because they feel that it will not be pursued, that they will be judged, they will not be believed. So it’s quite simple. You believe the women. And I had a conversation just a few nights ago. It’s very surprising when a woman, you know, she was really angry and said that women lie to get back at a man. And I said, no, the statistics do not bear that out, that is rare. And we need to keep saying that, that is rare. And so, believe the women, support them, do not allow them to be revictimized and take this seriously as a police force or specialized unit needs to.

12. Municipal and Industrial Tax reform

That was issue number one, industrial tax reform. A [party name hidden] government will do that $8 to $9 million a year. We get our transit money back just for starters. That’s the municipal tax reform. I said earlier that we need to remove or reduce the incentive to leave the city core and restructure things so that we are successfully fighting child poverty. We can’t do that without looking at the taxes, particularly on the super wealthy, the top 1%, my position, not a platform position, but I don’t see how we do a COVID recovery, fight the climate crisis and reduce child poverty without looking to the big heart, a big bank account, and encouraging those that hide their money to stop doing that. It might sound elitist, but I think more people are led with the heart than we think.

13. Access to public transit in Saint John

Insane now. Sundays people can’t even get to their place of work. It’s a challenge to get to a voting location. And that starts to beg the question, how could a premier say no to federal funding, no strings attached, to keep our transit going? I mean, we’ve been lied to, and we now see the consequences. $800,000 and 13 bus drivers out of work in a city where more people rely on transit to get around than any other in the province because of the poverty. Double the child poverty rate of the nation.

14. Access to affordable childcare in Saint John

So I tend to think of that more as a federal investment, but I guess they shouldn’t, because you can support the education system and the healthcare system, you’d support the economy itself when you make it easier for parents of any gender who wish to go to work. It should not be the case that going to work in a job you want… You know, actually, I have personal experience here and I don’t think my ex wife would mind me mentioning it, but we had twins who are 11 now. She liked her job, but it was a financial disincentive. We would’ve lost money if she had gone back to the job she liked and we shouldn’t have that as a reality. Quebec has a good model where it’s, I think it was like $10 a day, for childcare. You know, that strikes me as more reasonable. Personally, do I like the idea of free? I do, but I’m realistic when it comes to just how many things we can do with all that new tax revenue.

15. Media Ownership in New Brunswick

It’s a monopoly and an enormous threat to democracy. Oh, you said media ownership? Okay. We’ll leave it there.

Candidate Interview: Stefan Warner

He/Him • Portland Simonds • Green Party

Listen to the full interview

About the interview

We have reached out to all candidates in Saint John-Lancaster, Portland-Simonds, Saint John Harbour, and Saint John East ridings. All candidates were contacted via email, phone, and social media. 10 out of the 22 candidates responded, and each was interviewed by phone. Candidates were not provided with the questions in advance, as our objective was to give each candidate an equal opportunity to provide honest, unscripted answers. Candidate interviews were transcribed in full, edited, and emailed back to candidates to confirm accuracy. Below is the recording of the interview followed by a transcript. We invite candidates, the media, and everyone from the public to download and share these interviews freely.

All candidates were asked the following questions:

Section 1: Get to Know the Candidate

  1. Why are you running in this election?
  2. Describe how your time living in your riding has informed your qualifications as a candidate?
  3. Describe how your time living in New Brunswick has informed your qualifications as a candidate?
  4. How does your experience (ie. education, lived experience, workplace) contribute to your qualifications as a candidate?
  5. If elected, what will be your top 5 priorities for your riding?

Section 2: FLIP Areas of Priority
What are your thoughts on the following areas? When applicable, please provide examples and solutions.

  1. LGBTQ+ and reproductive healthcare
  2. Access to mental health and/or addictions services
  3. Glyphosate use in New Brunswick
  4. Access to affordable housing in Saint John
  5. Police funding in Saint John
  6. Reporting and investigations of sexual assaults
  7. Municipal and Industrial Tax reform
  8. Access to public transit in Saint John
  9. Access to affordable childcare in Saint John
  10. Media Ownership in New Brunswick

Interview Transcript

1. Why are you running in this election?

So I originally ran for the [party name hidden] in 2010 when I was 20 years old. And I was just doing that out of pure excitement to be part of the electoral process, just because I think politics is super important and really exciting in a weird, geeky way. This time around I’m running just out of frustration and kind of anger. I’m an educator and with a 28 day campaign cycle it kinda worked out that I was actually able to run again because as a government employee, I’m actually able to take an unpaid leave and this way I would only miss out on a kind of two weeks and three days of students. So I didn’t think I was going to be able to run in this provincial election, but you know, 28 day election cycles seems criminal to me, but it kind of worked out, whereas I can be a part of the process and I just really want, I loved sitting at the table and being part of the debates and bringing up social issues and having people directly answer to me. So yeah, that’s kind of the main reason I’m running. I just want to be part of the conversation and bring up some important issues.

2. Describe how the time living in your riding has informed your qualifications as a candidate.

Well, I am a lifelong Saint Johner. I absolutely love this town. I grew up in Millidgeville and I went to a city high school and I also graduated from UNB. So I know Saint John-Portland. I know this community. I am currently living just outside the riding because of gerrymandering and kind of switching the lines. So I am actually voting in Saint John Harbour, but I very much care about the North End and Millidgeville. And one thing I love about the [party name hidden] is you’re not whipped in any way for any votes. And I am Saint John first, always.

3. Describe how your time living in New Brunswick has informed your qualifications as a candidate.

Well, my mother was born in Edmundston and I grew up in Saint John. So I am a Francophone and I kind of understand New Brunswick in terms of the divide that’s happening there because I’m a Francophone in Saint John. And that we’re a small but mighty population here. I love this province. My sister, father, a bunch of my friends, they all left the province the second they could and I decided to stick around because I really believe in this place and I want other people to come back. I think there’s an opportunity here and I just want to help us move forward because this archaic red party blue party thing that we got going on is not serving the province very well.

4. How does your experience (ie. education, lived experience, workplace) contribute to your qualifications as a candidate?

So, one thing that kind of made me more interested in helping Saint John was that during COVID, I helped Bee Me Kids organize and run a mobile food bank. And while doing that, I really saw the systematic poverty that everybody knows is there. And it’s a seedy underbelly of Saint John and, you know, people talk about, but I was knocking on people’s doors and seeing the conditions that people are living in. So ever since I’ve done that, it kinda opened my eyes. So for 20 weeks, I was, you know, helping people out, delivering food and building those relationships. And the thing is, like people in Saint John are so lovely and want to succeed. It’s not the case that everybody wants to just sit on pogie and do nothing. It’s like people want opportunities and I want to help people find those

5. If elected, what will be your top 5 priorities for your riding?

For my riding? Okay, well, number one, the [party name hidden] there, I think everything needs to go back to environmentalism and having that in the back of our mind, but we can’t really do that without concentrating on poverty issues. People aren’t going to worry about recycling or buying local food. They’re worried about getting food on the table for their kids. So systematic poverty is definitely number one. I, as an educator, I would say education reform and just kind of switching the way we do things, making it safer for students and teachers. Re-Imagining the way a classroom can operate is very important to me. So that’d be number two. Bringing back a lot of social issues that the Higgs government has cut would be number three. I love Saint John. I think it’s beautiful. I’m currently sitting in uptown Saint John looking at the waterfront while we do this conversation.

And I think tourism is so important. If you develop tourism, you can do so much more. It creates opportunities, creates jobs, and it’s actually a nice town. I want everybody to come and see this. And number five, I would say, just helping the people that need it most with addiction, the mental health issues and addiction issues. It’s not ‘let’s create a task force to fight meth’. People are still gonna have those addiction issues. No one wants to be addicted to meth. We need to help those people instead of trying to prosecute the people. Yes, you gotta prosecute them, but we need to help the people on the ground.

6. LGBTQ+ and reproductive healthcare

I was recently at the rally in Rothesay for a Clinic 554. Yeah. The Higgs government is currently against the Canadian Health Act. And I think it’s what they’re doing is illegal. It’s literally illegal. So I am very much in favor of everybody having the healthcare they deserve. And we can definitely start with Clinic 554.

7. Access to mental health and/or addictions services

Yeah, that is a huge issue. I think people have addiction issues because of mental health, because of systemic poverty and all these things that are all intertwined in an awful type of pretzel. And we need to fund that because if you fund that for children at a young age, it just, it saves money down the road. It’s just seems so obvious that if you help those programs, you save money on incarceration and on all sorts of things. So it’s just, if you fund mental health and addiction issues, you save so much down the road. If you know Higgs, everyone wants balanced books. Well, look at it for a 20 year plan. It’s just obvious.

8. Glyphosate use in New Brunswick

There’s other ways we can spray our crops that are not carcinogenic. So, you know, you use the best technologies we have. It’s not that one. Let’s be better. 

9. Access to affordable housing in Saint John

Well, it’s pretty clear that gentrification is a big issue in Saint John, someone moved out of an apartment and they renovated with a coat of paint. And all of a sudden that apartment is $500 more. There needs to be some regulations put in place to protect the renters because Saint John is being bought up by outside forces. And the market is going up at a crazy rate that is just costing the average teenage out here way too much money, where we’re sending people out of the uptown core, they’re finding themselves and the lower North End in Crescent Valley in the parts of my riding and the housing there is obvious, and there’s a lot of red tape around fixing these buildings. And anytime we have a new building, we need to have it so everybody has a word. You know we need to make sure that any new building is available for every walks of life.

10. Police funding in Saint John

Well, I believe it is $26 million for a city of about 80,000 people or less. And that just seems absolutely ridiculous. I’ve never seen a department with such new vehicles consistently. I wouldn’t use the term defund, but I think restructure would be a very important thing for the city of Saint John to consider. Maybe it’s, you know, you have your paramedics, you have your firefighters, you have your police department, and you have the social team. You know, you have people that go out when there’s a mental health issue, not with guns drawn.

11. Reporting and investigations of sexual assaults

We need to make it easier for people to do that anonymously and not go back into the situation they were in. We need to help these women and children that are having a hard time with that, especially during COVID where during lockdown, you don’t have an opportunity as a teacher. You don’t have the opportunity to see kids and kind of monitor their health and stuff. And there needs to be more social progress programs in place to help these women that are experiencing difficulty. And, you know, maybe that’s not just a big room with all these families that are struggling together. Maybe it’s putting them up in housing immediately and other opportunities.

12. Municipal and Industrial Tax reform

That is one of my biggest things that I believe Saint John and if New Brunswick redefines that Saint John will thrive. I believe the facts are the regional hospital pays $4.5 million in taxes every year. And the refinery, the big refinery, the biggest refinery in Canada pays 2.6 million. That seems ridiculous. So we need to stop giving tax breaks to companies that are based in The Bahamas, and we need to tax them clearly so that we don’t have to look at private businesses to support schools and pretend that it’s like a big winning thing. Oh, wow. They do so much for the community. Now, if they paid their taxes, then we would actually be in a much better place. And it wouldn’t be the population supporting the businesses. It would be the other way around.

13. Access to public transit in Saint John

Well Higgs walked away from the table because he didn’t understand what was going on there. So he’s left somewhere between, you know, $1.5 and $2.5 million for transit on the table from the Trudeau government. So everybody should have access to going where they need to go. New Brunswick’s the only province that doesn’t subsidize transit. And there’s some people that have mobility issues. They can’t afford a vehicle. What have you that need to get around? And we need to give people the basic things they need to survive on. And transportation is one of those.

14. Access to affordable childcare in Saint John

I talk to people that have children and it, it’s a mortgage, it’s a mortgage to have your child go to daycare. And when people finally get their kids in kindergarten, it’s like winning the lottery because you start saving 800, a thousand dollars a month. It’s absolutely crazy how much we need to spend for that. And, you know, Ontario now has like a pre pre-K type situation. So I don’t know if it’s like it goes into public schools or it’s just another department of that, but we need to make it more affordable to live here for the people that are struggling. And the living wage in Saint John was just said to be $19.55. Minimum wage is $11.70. There’s a huge gap there, especially when mortgage or  rent rates are going up at an insane cost. Childcare is a very clear way to cut a huge expense for a lot of people.

15. Media Ownership in New Brunswick

I have two degrees. I have a degree in Education and then a degree in Communication. And I remember when we were learning about all this stuff, there was international books that we were using in class that used New Brunswick’s media ownership as a terrible example for what that can look like. It’s atrocious. It should not be that way. There’s laws on monopolies and they have never been enforcing New Brunswick that blows my mind. Everything keeps getting bought up from ‘Here Magazine’ to ‘Huddle’, to any little newspaper that you know. Brunswick News thinks as an opportunity and some of them are continued. Some of them are just dropped immediately because they don’t like the content. There needs to be oversight into this, and we need to divide that and make it not all owned by one mega enterprise.

Candidate Interview: Joanna Killen

She/Her • Saint John-Lancaster • Green Party

About the interview

We have reached out to all candidates in Saint John-Lancaster, Portland-Simonds, Saint John Harbour, and Saint John East ridings. All candidates were contacted via email, phone, and social media. 10 out of the 22 candidates responded, and each was interviewed by phone. Candidates were not provided with the questions in advance, as our objective was to give each candidate an equal opportunity to provide honest, unscripted answers. Candidate interviews were transcribed in full, edited, and emailed back to candidates to confirm accuracy. Below is the recording of the interview followed by a transcript. We invite candidates, the media, and everyone from the public to download and share these interviews freely.

All candidates were asked the following questions:

Section 1: Get to Know the Candidate

  1. Why are you running in this election?
  2. Describe how your time living in your riding has informed your qualifications as a candidate?
  3. Describe how your time living in New Brunswick has informed your qualifications as a candidate?
  4. How does your experience (ie. education, lived experience, workplace) contribute to your qualifications as a candidate?
  5. If elected, what will be your top 5 priorities for your riding?

Section 2: FLIP Areas of Priority
What are your thoughts on the following areas? When applicable, please provide examples and solutions.

  1. LGBTQ+ and reproductive healthcare
  2. Access to mental health and/or addictions services
  3. Glyphosate use in New Brunswick
  4. Access to affordable housing in Saint John
  5. Police funding in Saint John
  6. Reporting and investigations of sexual assaults
  7. Municipal and Industrial Tax reform
  8. Access to public transit in Saint John
  9. Access to affordable childcare in Saint John
  10. Media Ownership in New Brunswick

Interview Transcript

1. Why are you running in this election?

Well, I actually didn’t expect to run in this election, but the reason that I wanted to step up, it felt like a natural progression from working on a few issues in Saint John. So I was working with FLIP and I was also working on a project around defunding the police, working on how we can hold our police accountable and transparent in Saint John. And so all this kind of work I’ve been doing in the community, sitting on boards, et cetera, really led me to want to contribute in a more meaningful way. And the party I’m with really aligns with a lot of my values, not everything perfectly, but a really good chunk. So when the opportunity came up, I just spoke to them and they offered to support me in the run for this riding. 

2. Describe how the time living in your riding has informed your qualifications as a candidate.

I’ve lived in my riding. I was born here. I was raised here. I went to school at St. Pat’s and Beaconsfield. And also my family is probably like five generations deep on the West side. So I’m very well connected with the church network. I grew up Catholic, so my family is very well connected and involved with a lot of these people’s lives. And it’s less about religion now than it is about community. So I grew up going to church breakfasts and things like that, but there was lots of other community events. I also went to the Baptist Bible camp and, you know, different things around the West side. So it’s just been like, I’ve been so attached to it: It’s beaches, it’s organizations, it’s community events, it’s people, for as long as I can remember.

3. Describe how your time living in New Brunswick has informed your qualifications as a candidate.

So I’ve done a lot of work in economic development and ended up working with people across the province for the last seven years. And it’s really informed me on just how different and totally different communities are in New Brunswick and how proud folks are to be from all those places. So I think it’s like this thing where understanding small businesses and helping them from across the province, I’ve come to learn that we are a super diverse group of people in many ways. I also camp in Charlotte County, we hang out with lots of folks in the country too, and just know that there’s a lot of different issues people face, even if you drive like an hour away. So I feel that’s really helped me inform myself on the nuances of dealing with our province as a whole.

4. How does your experience (ie. education, lived experience, workplace) contribute to your qualifications as a candidate?

So I am a typical millennial who until I started my own business was job hopping every year and a half, two years. So in my background, I’ve worked at T4G, I’ve worked at the Delta, I’ve worked at Brunswick Square as a marketing manager, I was a waitress, I helped my ex-husband start four restaurants. I have volunteered for almost my entire life. I started my first business at 19. So I really have tried so many different ways to be super involved, both in my business and personal time with what’s going on in Saint John and New Brunswick in general. So I’ve been able to, because of my work in economic development, be able to go. And in my work experience, travel to conferences, the state of the province, the different sort of things that have been happening around our province for the last 10 years. And I’ve been able to be like a participant in a lot of that. So I think I’m fortunate that my profession has also led me to have community leadership experience, but I think, you know, no matter what I’ve been in my own business, we volunteer a lot of our time with high school, middle school kids doing entrepreneurship. I work with Community Loan Fund. I do a lot of work with their Enterprising Women Programs. So I’m trying to have a career that is not just a moneymaker, but one that also is doing things in the community as well.

5. If elected, what will be your top 5 priorities for your riding?

Number one, I feel is tax reform, but as subsection of tax reform, which is figuring out how Saint John can actually receive a hundred percent of the money that goes to Fredericton. To me that one is like the lowest hanging fruit in the tax reform issue list. So after that, I think it is about getting a reassessment done on all of the property tax deals that were made.So I’d say that’s number two, tax reform subsection, getting an understanding of what all these exemptions were about. Number three is adequately providing for services in New Brunswick. And in order for that to happen, those first two things have to happen. So it’s not that it isn’t the first priority. I just understand that those are two things that we can do right now without getting into a lot of stuff with unions. And that to me is like a very long, long, long journey and figuring that particular part of tax reform out. So with those first two things then we’re able to properly fund the services we need. So let’s talk about in that subsection, access to healthcare. So we obviously do not have adequate enough access to healthcare with Clinic 554 closing, and reg. 84-20 still existing. So we need the funds to properly create an accessible healthcare network. And that to me would be the number three thing.

So, get the money invested into making sure everyone has the suite of services that every city has, even if you’re in St. Stephen, even if you’re in Campbellton, et cetera.

Number four for me is a socially just economy. So as it stands right now, a lot of small businesses pay a lot of tax and have a big burden on them because the larger companies aren’t paying their fair share. So we would need, I think, to look at how we can encourage people to actually be okay to start small businesses right now. I see it as too big of a risk for a ton of people. There’s also a lot of nuances in there around EI. So like, if you are someone who wants to start a small business, it’s very hard for you to do that because you can’t make too much money or else you lose all these benefits. And it’s not just the financial benefits, it’s the, you know, your Medicare extra benefits, the different things that you get when you’re on social assistance. So we’ve created a huge barrier there when it comes to “people lifting themselves up by their bootstraps”. So I think like actually looking at the economy in a way where it’s, how can we make it more just, is something very specific to my background that I think I could really contribute to.

And the fifth thing I think is this concept, knowing my riding, knowing that everyone is really concerned about jobs, is how do we switch over to renewables and in a much more accelerated pace. I went to the wind presentation and they’re like, “Oh no, you know, by 2023″…and I understand these things take time, but how do we accelerate renewables being a part of the New Brunswick kind of fabric and how can we make it really easy for folks to switch over from… if you need an upgrade and you’re an industry, like what do we need to do to make it? So it’s easier for a small business or a company to stop using fossil fuels, et cetera. So I think that’d be number five.

6. LGBTQ+ and reproductive healthcare

As a member of the LGBTQ+ community, as well as a woman, I have gone through our service system as it comes to this and it is not accessible. It is not doctors and nurses, et cetera. People have not gotten the proper kind of empathetic care model that I’ve seen in other places where they’re not understood, they’re not well educated on it. We need to actually mandate that that’s a thing. So honestly the education piece around healthcare in this respect, I think it will be a big learning curve, for physicians and folks in New Brunswick. So I do think that solutions wise if we’re going to transform our healthcare system into one that this stuff is available in every community, we need to make sure that the frontline folks, the ones who are right with our people are well aware of these issues and are able to, you know, actually care for folks who are LGBTQ+ or in a reproductive health situation. So I think we need to focus on that component as a building block, to having accessible healthcare everywhere in New Brunswick.

7. Access to mental health and/or addictions services

So this is a concept that I also can speak to. We run a peer support groups for entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurs often do not have any coverage at all for things like therapy or counseling. You have to sort of be connected to the old corporate benefits structure in order to do that. So my idea would be that we would start to look at how we fund nonclinical, nonmedical, mental health care. There’s lots of counselors and therapists and folks like Family Plus, different places that could use a program for instance, to be able to expand their capacity. So we are always hearing, we have a hard time finding medical staff, medical people, doctors, et cetera, to move here. So why wouldn’t we try to strengthen the capacity of the folks that are having to charge people to stay alive as a nonprofit in order to make sure that we actually have capacity to help people. So I would think we would try and bring those people under some kind of funding umbrella to make it so there is more places that people can go in their own communities to access mental health care. And also, I don’t think we should have a cap on the amount of appointments for instance, that someone needs. That’s another cultural thing in New Brunswick. And a lot of corporate benefits packages is a three session cap. I think that hopefully a program like I’m dreaming of would fund those folks to be able to bill whatever it is back to the province.

8. Glyphosate use in New Brunswick

So I absolutely think the glyphosate problem here in New Brunswick is one that needs to be eradicated. There’s no reason for us to be using such a harsh chemical on forest, that for one, have been monoculture, meaning that they are one type of harvestable lumber. We need to look at mixed use forests. And the fact is the glyphosate is used for a very specific purpose and is not a good contributor to having a forest that is actually natural and mixed in the sense that it is a New Brunswick -led trees, New Brunswick-led forest, trees that were here naturally before we were clear cutting and doing all these drastic things to our forest basically here. So I support a full ban on any kind of pesticide that is going to take out the natural culture of this place.

9. Access to affordable housing in Saint John

So in my work at the Community Loan Fund, I witnessed the building of a two unit building with $105,000 to do which was such a good price. They had Catapult working on it. They brought in this whole team of people who should be doing this project. Anyway, it was so hard. It was so hard. It took literally over a year and a half to secure $105,000. And I know for a fact that the province has made deals, worked out things with Wayne Long, et cetera, to have an affordable housing plan. I see the people actually doing that work, running into barriers left, right, and center. So I know there is enough people who are able to come and build these units here, and the province is literally blocking them from accessing the funding in a meaningful way. So again, the money is there and we need to let the people do the work they need to do. Saint John knows how, what it needs. So we need to take the chains off of these programs that I have seen in the application forms. I’ve seen how difficult it is to work with program officers. That has to end. That culture thing has to end because there’s a ton of folks who are ready to activate and actually create this, create these units and do this kind of work. Like the Teen Resource Center has a huge list of young people who need housing along with community, living along with, you know, Coverdale, et cetera. We know what we need. We have the people who want to build it, but we need to unlock that funding. So I think that’s my biggest thing is figuring out why that has yet to be unlocked yet.

10. Police funding in Saint John

So we do not get to see what really the police spend money on, and that is a very deeply concerning thing to me. So I honestly believe that it’s a complicated issue with the police commission and how things can get done, et cetera. But in my research around this issue, I realized that New Brunswick is one of the only provinces that does not have a meaningful citizen led sort of oversight committee, group, et cetera. So I think that really has to change. I think that’s like another thing like tax reform, like, what is Step One here? So I think Step One is we need to see inside and under the hood, like, what is everyone doing? Why does it take this long for sexual assault cases to be addressed? I have my own personal experiences in dealing with the police where I was not, I don’t believe, effectively handled. So I know that these things have happened and we need to know what the deal is, and actually have a system where we can hold people accountable for things that happen. Especially our police, as we do pay $26 million to them every year. And I think if they are truly community minded, then we’ll all be able to come to the table and try and figure out a better way to actually provide public safety. Because at this point, I don’t know how safe people feel, and that should be really the utmost importance of the leading public safety group in this town. So, we need to find a way to talk and understand what their challenges are. So then we can go advocate back to the province for the things that we need and that they think we need.

11. Reporting and investigations of sexual assaults

So we definitely need to have some sort of oversight, accountability, subsection of whatever this might look like, because this one is something that has plagued our city for decades, I think, and honestly it really is something that needs a process around how it is addressed because obviously the way people feel at this point is that no one is feeling supported, and that is a huge red flag for a community, for its’ people, not to trust law enforcement. So in order for that to change, they need to admit to it. And again, like I said in my last question, like open up the hood, how do you guys do this? Educate us, tell us how you investigate this kind of thing, let us know as a community, what can we be doing? Like, I think for too long, just the police have felt like they have it all under control and that no one in the community really knows what we’re talking about, but that’s not the case. There’s lots of people who have experience outside of here who understand how other places handle it. You know, there’s the Philadelphia model. There’s tons there to replicate, but they need to be willing to see the problem first. And that, I think, has been the challenge up to this point in what I see going on. And that has to be a number one thing. Again, you have to admit your mistakes so that you can improve and we need to get the police to the table in order to do that.

12. Municipal and Industrial Tax reform

So we need to reassess this whole beast that’s been created what I understand over the past 60 years, there’s just been willy-nilly kind of deals made each time there is a new development. So in my time at economic development, I sort of witnessed this play out in some ways with regards to subsidies that would come from ONB or from PEDL for wages, et cetera. It’s always sort of an ad-hoc process based on what party is in power that time. So in our majority government history, we’ve just had people to create these deals. So I think what we need to see, what was the deal made? Why was it? How long was the timeline? You know, why was it made? And then we need to create a process going forward where it’s like, okay, here’s the things that are applicable for tax exemption. I don’t think McCain foods should qualify as a farmer for instance, which makes them exempt from property tax at this time. And there needs to be some kind of two bracket system where sure, if you’re a small town farmer, you should absolutely have a tax break because you’re trying to feed your local community. But if you’re exporting to millions and billions of dollars of our potatoes, that’s not the same situation. So for industrial and, you know, tax reform there, we need to look at what is the company, why do they have this deal? And what is the timeline on this property tax break? Because I don’t think anyone has that process built and it’s missing. That’s a huge missing component in our government.

13. Access to public transit in Saint John

Well, honestly, I’m appalled at the way public transit has been eroded, at least even over the course of my lifetime. And they’ve made it so difficult and made it such a fight within Saint John to access and have a good transit service that is fundamentally funded as a utility. It should not be something that needs to create enough revenue in order for it to survive. It is not some sort of limousine as in the old song. Like you say as everyone thinks, it’s something that’s going to facilitate people getting around as well as actually reducing carbon emissions overall. So if anything, we need to strengthen our transit system and create one that’s even more accessible, because of the fact that Saint John, Fredericton, and Moncton, inside of Saint John city limits, we have a huge area. We need to service everybody. So if that takes, you know, petitioning the federal government to make it so people can get to the hospital on a bus, then that’s what we should be doing.

14. Access to affordable childcare in Saint John

Much like the story I told earlier, my partner went through this with trying to access daycare subsidies here in this province. So right now they’ve made it so it’s really difficult. Her two kids had two different program officers, tons of forms, tons of scans, tons of things she had to send in like proof of how much she made, which is fine. We can do those things, sure. But the system, as it’s set up currently, makes it almost completely impossible for someone who doesn’t have access to a computer or who doesn’t have the wherewithal to fill out so many forms, et cetera. So they’ve made it completely where they have daycare facilities, but they make it almost impossible and they make you want to quit. So this is another thing where we need to have universal access to childcare for kids, not just when they’re zero to school age, but for afterschool, it needs to be afterschool program, universal health care programs. And when I lived in Denmark, they were pretty much built into every institution that I could find. So even if you were a corporation, you had a childcare facility and in the first floor that was funded by the government. So I think that in order to be a part of a society where people have to work and you wanted to have children as well in order to perpetuate that said society, then you need to have a built-in childcare if you want people to work because it’s a mortgage payment right now for folks to pay for daycare. If you make $55,000 or above, it’s $1,480 for a month for two kids in daycare, that is, it’s more than a lot of people’s rent. So, you know, it’s unacceptable that we live in a country, in a province as rich as this is and aren’t able to take care of the precious few that are left here in that even in that age bracket, it’s something we’ve heard for years is that there’s not going to be enough kids to take care of, you know, this society that is coming and yet we don’t want to fund them. So that to me has never made good sense. And honestly, the people in there are frontline workers for people who have to go back to work and that’s just unfair across so many reasons.

15. Media Ownership in New Brunswick

New Brunswick as it stands now, and far as I can tell, is basically, I took Atlantic Canadian history in university and… It’s a feudal system. So basically we have certain Lords and they may be in government, or they may be as head of a corporation or head of a rich family, but there’s this culture of people not being allowed to speak out because they’re scared of what the Lords are going to do. And Irving has made it another level, more impossible with owning every single news outlet in this province practically, besides the ones that are coming up now that are grassroots and trying to combat this. They make it so headlines are twisted. They make it so information is left out. It is like a completely propaganda based situation we have here in New Brunswick. And we, as citizens, have watched them buy up every single little tiny newspaper. And I’ve heard really wild stories about how they would try and bankrupt some of these ones in central New Brunswick as well, the little sort of more rural newspapers. It was a complete corporate takeover that unfolded over many years. And unfortunately, as a society, we have to make the decision on whether we are okay with that or not. And so I’ve seen it said that we have to sort of trust bust, this kind of thing, as much as I see in their explanation of how it’s not all one company, it’s still all one family. And that to me is a huge problem with New Brunswick and having to serve a family because you cannot truly speak out. You cannot truly speak your mind because A. It might not get published or B.They will completely turn it around on you. So I’ve watched that happen to a lot of my very smart activist friends, and this kind of thing will only happen in the vacuum that it is here because we don’t have anyone big enough to challenge them back. So I think trust busting would be my favorite idea when it comes to media ownership.

Candidate Interview: Tony Gunn

He/Him • Saint John Harbour • PANB

About the interview

We have reached out to all candidates in Saint John-Lancaster, Portland-Simonds, Saint John Harbour, and Saint John East ridings. All candidates were contacted via email, phone, and social media. 10 out of the 22 candidates responded, and each was interviewed by phone. Candidates were not provided with the questions in advance, as our objective was to give each candidate an equal opportunity to provide honest, unscripted answers. Candidate interviews were transcribed in full, edited, and emailed back to candidates to confirm accuracy. Below is the recording of the interview followed by a transcript. We invite candidates, the media, and everyone from the public to download and share these interviews freely.

All candidates were asked the following questions:

Section 1: Get to Know the Candidate

  1. Why are you running in this election?
  2. Describe how your time living in your riding has informed your qualifications as a candidate?
  3. Describe how your time living in New Brunswick has informed your qualifications as a candidate?
  4. How does your experience (ie. education, lived experience, workplace) contribute to your qualifications as a candidate?
  5. If elected, what will be your top 5 priorities for your riding?

Section 2: FLIP Areas of Priority
What are your thoughts on the following areas? When applicable, please provide examples and solutions.

  1. LGBTQ+ and reproductive healthcare
  2. Access to mental health and/or addictions services
  3. Glyphosate use in New Brunswick
  4. Access to affordable housing in Saint John
  5. Police funding in Saint John
  6. Reporting and investigations of sexual assaults
  7. Municipal and Industrial Tax reform
  8. Access to public transit in Saint John
  9. Access to affordable childcare in Saint John
  10. Media Ownership in New Brunswick

Interview Transcript

1. Why are you running in this election?

I’m running basically because I grew up in my area. I grew up in the South End, born and raised my whole life. And basically I spent the last four decades hoping for some change for Saint John and then really have just never seen it happen. So I just thought I would maybe push it myself. Maybe just try to get in there and maybe make the really final push that Saint John really needs from an MLA.

2. Describe how the time living in your riding has informed your qualifications as a candidate.

Well, I’ve lived there my whole entire life. I grew up in the South End. I grew up through poverty. I made it out of it. I worked myself out of it and I think I know what people who still live there are dealing with, you know, they’re dealing with poverty every day. They’re dealing with homelessness, they’re dealing with no job security, and I think I could maybe help them figure a way to get out of that.

3. Describe how your time living in New Brunswick has informed your qualifications as a candidate.

New Brunswick is one of the best places I’ve ever been. I’ve traveled a little bit now. I’m not a world traveller or anything, but I’ve traveled to the US and places like New Brunswick is one of the most friendly, inviting places you would ever want to go to. I find that the only problem is, we seem to be fighting against each other rather than fighting with each other. And I would just like to maybe be the middle ground for these groups that are always fighting with each other, maybe make them understand that, maybe we can’t give you all of this, but we can give you most of it. If you give us some of this, I find that there’s not enough. There’s not enough give and take in our province at the moment. And I think I could provide that middle ground.

4. How does your experience (ie. education, lived experience, workplace) contribute to your qualifications as a candidate?

I worked myself through poverty. Our family was dealing with it when we were growing up. And then once I got out of high school, I dealt with it on a more personal level because I really didn’t know what other options were out there. You know, I didn’t know how much more of a benefit that education would give a person. And now I do, after going to community college and then finishing my university degree, I realized how much more of a benefit that will be for the rest of my life. And I don’t know if anyone in the neighborhoods in our riding still understand that. I think they’re of the nature that, okay, school is not for me, you know, I’ll just work through it, but they don’t realize that in their lifetime, an education, a formal education, almost doubles their lifetime earnings. And that’s what I think I could help with.

5. If elected, what will be your top 5 priorities for your riding?

Number one obviously would be poverty reduction because like I said, that that’s what I’ve dealt with my whole life. And that’s what I think the area needs the most. You know, the Saint John Harbor riding specifically has five of the poorest neighborhoods in New Brunswick and generational poverty is especially tough to deal with. And I think that would be my main focus, would be trying to deal with that and trying to get people out of that. And obviously second would be a Saint John development like into the harbourfront development, anything that would bring development into our areas, new commercial development, obviously because that increases your tax base. And then that goes into the third item, which would be tax reform, either municipal tax reform allowing municipalities like Saint John to keep our tax base, to keep our industrial taxes that are paid in, but sent to Fredericton. And then on the other option would be the property tax assessment issue.

6. LGBTQ+ and reproductive healthcare

Okay. Now that is not something I’m overly familiar with being a single male. But definitely I’m in favor of full support of whatever my constituents would benefit from. I’m very open to having clinics that provide that service for healthcare and for mental health services. You know, I think that’s what we need more of in New Brunswick, is outside of the general hospital issue is more walk-in clinics that provide that type of service. And I think that would benefit that community, especially as well as the poverty community.

7. Access to mental health and/or addictions services

That kind of falls under the first option, is obviously being in the Saint John area and our riding specifically have a much higher suicide rate, addiction rates, mental health issues, than the rest of the province because of the poverty issue and the urban nature of our area. So again, the walk-in clinics, obviously those clinics would have to have mental health services, as well as physical services, you know, like a general practitioner and things like that. And as well as, there should be those within our school system, there should be mental health professionals involved there all the way through and not just at certain levels.

8. Glyphosate use in New Brunswick

Our party is already on record as wanting to ban that on crown lands. We were able to work with the minority PCs to get it reduced by 30%. But obviously if we were elected, we would push for that to be eliminated completely.

9. Access to affordable housing in Saint John

Falls under that poverty is now our issue, is that we have a very transient base in the South End and in the other communities where families are living in one building and rents go up. So they have to move into another one. So they have to, you know, continuously move so they don’t really have a sense of belonging to any one area. They’re just always on the move and with affordable housing that would allow them to have a more permanent address and provide a more stable environment for children. And just a better state of mental health for the individuals who would normally have to move every three or four months. So affordable housing would obviously be key. You also kind of have to look at the double tax issue. The double tax issue is an investment killer. So if you don’t have outside investment into these rental apartments, that basically takes away that, you know, the rents become too high. Whereas if you eliminated that double tax, the owners would be able to keep the rents as low as possible for the ones who can’t afford the, you know, the Germain Street condos and that sort of thing.

10. Police funding in Saint John

I’m not really up to date on the cost. I know our police force is the only, I believe, it’s the only municipal police force in New Brunswick. I believe the other ones are all RCMP and I have to look that up, but no, I’m for funding for the police department within the guidelines that they need it for. I know, as far as a per capita basis, I believe Saint John is pretty much in the middle. I’m not sure if we’re, you know, if we pay higher rates per capita or lower rates per capita, but I’m pretty sure we’re in the middle of it. And I don’t really know if that’s an issue right now, but obviously it could be down the line. Again, that would be something I would have to look for more information on.

11. Reporting and investigations of sexual assaults

100%, I’d be in favor of whatever was the concern of the person who is making the complaint. You know, it’s one of those issues where the investigation should take place no matter who makes the complaint. It’s one of those issues where it’s such a touchy subject, it’s such a thing we have where we have to protect those individuals as much as possible and make sure that they have no fear to come forward, make sure that they have a safe place to go. And make sure that there’s no repercussions on making a formal charge and that sort of thing. And that’s kind of where you need to be. And I don’t think we’re there yet, but I think we’re on the right path for sure, with the agencies that are working within our communities.

12. Municipal and Industrial Tax reform

Oh, that’s a big one for me being an accountant. Yeah, no, I definitely think there is room for major improvement in both municipal with the way the municipal tax calculations are done. I think it hamstrings Saint John specifically because of our large industrial tax break base. I mean, we have more industrial property in Saint John than the rest of New Brunswick combined, yet we see no tax benefit from it. All that money goes to Fredericton, or at least a large portion of it. And if our party was elected or was in a power to make that happen, that is one of our main platform issues is changing that specifically for the benefit of the many municipalities that deal with the heavy industry.

13. Access to public transit in Saint John

It’s been a long, long time since I used public transit, but I know there’s a lot of issues with availability in certain areas, routes that were once very popular that are no longer in service because of cuts. And obviously when there’s federal money available, that obviously our province should have accepted that or, you know, been part of that. And when our leaders decide on their own that money is not necessary, I think that’s a big issue for me, you know, that if there’s money available for one specific thing and in our area, it’s definitely needed to either keep the cost of ridership low or to include those areas that didn’t have service anymore.

14. Access to affordable childcare in Saint John

That falls under the larger poverty issue. Childcare should be right up there with healthcare as a charter. For parents, especially working parents, it should be provided. For now, I’m not sure what is offered now, not having a child of my own. I know a lot of families do struggle with the high cost of private childcare. Now, I would hope that all governments, whoever gets elected, should be looking at providing that with no additional service under the Horizon Health Network or the Vitalité Health Network. I think it should be one of those things that’s included in our major healthcare.

15. Media Ownership in New Brunswick

No. Well, I mean, as far as we all know that the ownership of the media is pretty much under one umbrella. And so therefore there’s not always an open discussion on things. It’s more of an opinion based media rather than a fact based media. Now, I’m new to this, so I don’t know 100% sure on one way or the other how it falls, but from what the things I read, it feels more that there’s a bigger slant towards certain issues that are important to those that own the media, rather than being a more open discussion across the public area, the way it should be, the way a newspaper and media should be.

Candidate Interview: Brent Harris

He/Him • Saint John Harbour • Green Party

About the interview

We have reached out to all candidates in Saint John-Lancaster, Portland-Simonds, Saint John Harbour, and Saint John East ridings. All candidates were contacted via email, phone, and social media. 10 out of the 22 candidates responded, and each was interviewed by phone. Candidates were not provided with the questions in advance, as our objective was to give each candidate an equal opportunity to provide honest, unscripted answers. Candidate interviews were transcribed in full, edited, and emailed back to candidates to confirm accuracy. Below is the recording of the interview followed by a transcript. We invite candidates, the media, and everyone from the public to download and share these interviews freely.

All candidates were asked the following questions:

Section 1: Get to Know the Candidate

  1. Why are you running in this election?
  2. Describe how your time living in your riding has informed your qualifications as a candidate?
  3. Describe how your time living in New Brunswick has informed your qualifications as a candidate?
  4. How does your experience (ie. education, lived experience, workplace) contribute to your qualifications as a candidate?
  5. If elected, what will be your top 5 priorities for your riding?

Section 2: FLIP Areas of Priority
What are your thoughts on the following areas? When applicable, please provide examples and solutions.

  1. LGBTQ+ and reproductive healthcare
  2. Access to mental health and/or addictions services
  3. Glyphosate use in New Brunswick
  4. Access to affordable housing in Saint John
  5. Police funding in Saint John
  6. Reporting and investigations of sexual assaults
  7. Municipal and Industrial Tax reform
  8. Access to public transit in Saint John
  9. Access to affordable childcare in Saint John
  10. Media Ownership in New Brunswick

Interview Transcript

1. Why are you running in this election?

 So for me, I got involved with a bunch of different community development work in my past when I was living in Hamilton, Ontario, actually. And from that, I just fell in love with local community based development, activism, and just different ideas around social enterprise development to solve problems creatively. And when I moved back to Saint John it very quickly became apparent to me that the housing issues were unlike any I had kind of seen with the other place, just at least in how apparent they were and how intertwined they were to other problems. Like just the overall systemic poverty you know, our city as well as investment development economically. And so that really grabbed my attention. And of course, with the tool library, there was a bunch of us kind of batting around ideas, living in the South End of what might be kind of a grassroots initiative. 

We could develop to rally people around this idea of maintaining and coming together to work on each other’s homes and keep them up to try to interrupt some of that narrative that was taking place. We saw with our neighbors with, you know, you walk out your door and you see these buildings in the state, they are, it’s hard to develop a positive narrative, which makes it hard to develop a positive feelings about where you live, which usually means we don’t take risks in our community or care to invest in it or those things. So for me personally, that’s what got the ball rolling. And over the years of being involved with that just seeing so many different pieces of the puzzle that are in government’s hands that we won’t, I don’t think we’ll be able to solve the housing crisis unless they change, unless there’s significant housing reforms around the Tenancies Act also as well as just how development is done around housing and who gets funding for what purposes and who gets focused on and all those things. So that was really the issue that kind of, I guess, focused on, but since then a number of other issues have kind of come to the front. So food sovereignty and just different ways of doing localized development economically have just become something I care about. So I found a home with the [party name hidden] and over time they asked me to run. So here we are.

2. Describe how the time living in your riding has informed your qualifications as a candidate.

 Yeah, because I rallied a bunch of different people to do an issue that I was involved with, it allowed me to create a network, I guess, that is very different. And a lot of us aren’t necessarily people who were at the table of making decisions or talking about policy before, but now many of us are. And so I think that probably is my strongest qualification. I mean, I do have some education background, but I think for any person in government, your strongest qualification has to be, can you bring people together to solve this problem? And can you build a team and do you know how to collaborate? So that’s something I’ve been able to accomplish and hope to continue to do.

3. Describe how your time living in New Brunswick has informed your qualifications as a candidate.

 So being born in Blacks Harbor, New Brunswick, I was brought up in a rural environment, but having lived in Saint John, having lived in Sackville, having lived in Fredericton, I’ve been around different communities. And I think one of the things I continue to see is that there has been a momentum shift just across the province in the past number of years. And again, that network that had been developing mostly around social entrepreneurial development with groups like B4 Change that I think will allow me to tap into some of those potentials. So I think that’s probably my strongest qualification there.

4. How does your experience (ie. education, lived experience, workplace) contribute to your qualifications as a candidate?

 So as far as lived experience goes, I’ve had a chance to see, you know, other perspectives and other cities like Hamilton and Toronto and Sackville and whatnot. So I’ve also had the opportunity to live among people who live on the margins, so refugees, immigrants, but also just the poor in the riding of Saint John Harbour when I was living in the South End. And I think having had those experiences has informed certainly my education because my education, you know, it was always done at university. And so that was a way from those people away from those specifics. And I think having those specific examples with specific people in situations really has developed my ability to see solutions that are achievable, not just that are, you know, ideal.

5. If elected, what will be your top 5 priorities for your riding?

 Top five priorities for the riding? Well, first and foremost, it’s attracting the proper attention. We need that stuff in school. And that’s not just because it’s a hot topic that people have rallied around. It’s because it’s very important for that part of our city to receive a level of investment that it hasn’t had beyond that we want to look at municipal reform, which includes governance reform, which means changing the relationship and the partnership between our city and Fredericton. Food sovereignty is a big one that I’ve been involved with and the [party name hidden] is moving towards pretty rapidly. And then beyond that, just looking at again, social enterprise development and how we actually can empower change makers in the communities and what would go on with those types of investments.

6. LGBTQ+ and reproductive healthcare

 So my thoughts on that issue are that, you know, compared to other places I’ve lived, New Brunswick really has lagged around it’s involvement and it’s support of that group. And it’s, to me, it’s so clear that we have an opportunity and we have examples elsewhere of access to, you know, places to have a safe abortion, places to receive support through counseling, places to receive, you know an environment where you’re not in a big, huge hospital that’s busy and has lots of people in it. There’s a, you know, a person that you’re in a little more of an intimate environment to talk about some of these bigger challenges. So to me, when it comes to funding that stuff there is just a way forward has to be through decentralized healthcare. And we’ve seen that work in other provinces. And I think it’s just about time we catch up and get that done.

7. Access to mental health and/or addictions services

 So along the same lines when it comes to mental health, our leader, David Coon has been battling for many years to raise the awareness and attention and on what the levels of access to and what the levels of supports are for people who have that. And there’s been some good policy work done around that. And that’s, I think what the general basic areas that Guaranteed Basic Income is aimed at for the [party name hidden] platform. And it’s something that I think would go a long way stabilizing just the amount of opportunity that people who are in those situations of needing mental health support and access to that kind of healthcare can get to those places a little more easily. And certainly again, when you have decentralized healthcare, when you’re not focusing everything on three schools versus only three hospitals, for the most part, then you’re making the access. So it’s not just based if you can get a ride to Fredericton or the Regional there’s something closer to where you live with people who, you know, to be able to get that support. 

8. Glyphosate use in New Brunswick

 Is abhorrent. Glyphosate use… it’s ludicrous to me, and there was an article that just went out about how farmers don’t want to abandon it, because it’s the only thing that works. And we know from regenerative agriculture practices that have been well-documented scientifically for the past 20 years by individuals like John Kemp is absolutely not necessary to use that. Absolutely degregates the soil. It destroys biodiversity in our forest. And that creates forests that get sick more often. And not, you know, when you look at Dutch Elm disease, or when you look at the Ash borer beetle, or the pine beetle, those pests thrive in areas where there is lack of diversity because the diversity is what keeps some of those things in check and same with our soil. So a device that you use has to be ended and farmers need to get the support they need. They only know what they’ve been taught in many ways, and that we need to use poisons to grow food, and it’s not true.

9. Access to affordable housing in Saint John

 So access to affordable housing is, of course, you know, the main hat for me as far as where I want to go after. And I mean, I, myself ran into issues with when I was trying to find housing and we ran into struggles with our landlord. So to me, there’s a number of solutions we can apply. One of them needs to be that we reset the Landlord Tendencies Act because some of the housing that we have right now is affordable, but it’s not stable because there is a lot of issues either with the building themselves and the building isn’t safe, and the landlords don’t necessarily have the supports. They need to maintain them, or the landlords aren’t practicing responsible practices and there’s very little resources for recourse for tenants. And so, I mean, we fixed that by amending legislation. That’s a hundred years old and hasn’t been touched and we put in safeguards for tenants, but we also build in supports for our landlords so that they can receive the help they need on those buildings. And things like rent controls, things like different supports from the tribunal for landlords difficulties, with tenants, not just having to go to evictions and things like that are important steps to make, for sure.

10. Police funding in Saint John

 So as a rule, I think across the board, we have looked at police funding in the wrong way. And I think the Black Lives Matter movement has highlighted this. And as we look at defunding the police, we want to have safe neighborhoods, but we want to focus the jobs that our police are supposed to be doing in those areas. Instead of having them respond to every other type of incident, that’s kind of not in their wheelhouse of skills. So that means funding our social system properly. And it means, you know, funding social workers to be able to be in those situations and not be so stretched that they’re burnt out all the time, which is something that’s a real problem for social workers in this province. And so you know, we have to look more holistically about how we fund police and municipalities need to have leadership in the province on how to do that. And I don’t see that happening right now. I see openness from our municipalities to explore that. And then I see concern from the police associations to kind of shut those conversations down because they don’t want to lose funding and the province is silent and that’s not what we need. We need an alternative and we need some leadership on that I believe.

11. Reporting and investigations of sexual assaults

 Right. So around sexual assault reporting there has been a lot of troubling stories that have come out in just recent history, but I know that this problem is far more protracted than that. And so with no third party investigative body in New Brunswick around policing, you know, anytime we need somebody to investigate the actions of the police, we have to call them from Nova Scotia or Quebec. And that’s something David Coon has called for. He’s even proposed an amendment to legislation, I believe, I don’t know if it ever reached the floor, but around having a watchdog that is in New Brunswick that can investigate these issues because there’s been a lot loss of trust for sure, among people who have encountered sexual assault and not received the support or the justice that they sought to receive. And that needs to be something that is addressed. And I think an easy way for that is to start with the police watchdog and then to move from there.

12. Municipal and Industrial Tax reform

 So how we govern as a province for the last 150 years has been mostly around rural policy. And that’s because we were mostly a rural province, but we have three large cities and we have six other, what we call cities, in this province that have all begun to feel the pain of how that policy works for cities. We have different issues. And when you’re encumbered with lots of industry, like we are in Saint John, you know, the way that the tax system works in rural areas does not work for us. And so we need major reforms there. We need to remove the exemptions that have been put on mills. We need to remove the tax reductions that have been put on our refinery, but that goes across the board to our other jurisdictions, machinery that’s for forests and things like that because again, for cities specifically, we’re never going to be able to provide our citizens with the service they need and to solve the problems, cities know how to solve best without some sort of intervention. And I think, you know, a quick way to look at that is to amend the percentages that our cities hold within that they get back from that, from that tax system currently. But ideally it would be the move to a land value tax system for our big cities, so that we put pressure on the right assets and land use not being idle, rather than putting pressure on landlords and homeowners with high tax rates. 

13. Access to public transit in Saint John

 So public transit, you know, so many people rely on it just to be able to function day to day activities. And in Saint John for a long time, there has been a struggle to figure out how to fund transit well, and we see a good movement right now of people trying to lobby for active transportation. And I know that will help some of the pieces of that puzzle for sure, around how we get around, how do we get from point A to point B, but transit needs to be stable. It needs to be accessible. And right now our city is just constantly going back to the drawing board on ‘how do we pay for this thing and get people the access they need’? And as we’ve seen, we have a government that doesn’t seem to care too much about that struggle and went off for help from the federal government around transit, turned it down, and that’s not the kind of partner I want to be for Saint John in Fredericton. We need somebody who understands that it is hard work getting around on a bus and to not have the right routes and the right bus structures around that or transit structure is just holding everybody back.

14. Access to affordable childcare in Saint John

 Right. So if we’re expecting people to contribute you know, in our communities, but we’re not giving anybody the supports or the opportunity to have their children looked after I don’t see how we can move the needle forward on a number of issues like poverty and education. So there has been federally, I know there has been good legislation around universal childcare, and I see that in Quebec and as we have the tax situation and as we fix our revenue problem by taxing people properly, I know we can find money in our budget to begin targeted approach to childcare centers being developed where they’re not currently developed. And it also means pushing for our workers who are working in that industry to receive fair wages and compensation because there’s a lot of turnover in that industry because the pay isn’t always great. And nor is it sustainable, it’s certainly not a living wage for many people. So I think that’s something that we can stabilize the current model we have, but also go further and try to target legislation that can help develop further centers in cities.

15. Media Ownership in New Brunswick

 So media ownership is a tough nut to crack because we certainly can’t, unless somebody stepping up to start their own media outlet and fork over the money, it’s hard to throw stones at people who have bought it up at the same time. It isn’t right. That we see such a centralized force in our media ownership, in New Brunswick, being basically within one family. And because of that, I don’t think people have the trust in our reporting. And because of that, I think people are just disenchanted. And so there needs to be steps taken. And how that happens is still still a bit of a mystery to me. And what you do to try to break up that monopoly? Certainly there’s government actions that can be taken around legislation to break up the monopoly. And where do we go when it’s broken up? Like who takes it over? That’s where we need to do more work as a community to figure out how we can support good and resilient media ownership and reporting for our communities.

Candidate Interview: Tim Jones

He/Him • Portland Simonds • Liberal Party

Listen to the full interview

About the interview

We have reached out to all candidates in Saint John-Lancaster, Portland-Simonds, Saint John Harbour, and Saint John East ridings. All candidates were contacted via email, phone, and social media. 10 out of the 22 candidates responded, and each was interviewed by phone. Candidates were not provided with the questions in advance, as our objective was to give each candidate an equal opportunity to provide honest, unscripted answers. Candidate interviews were transcribed in full, edited, and emailed back to candidates to confirm accuracy. Below is the recording of the interview followed by a transcript. We invite candidates, the media, and everyone from the public to download and share these interviews freely.

All candidates were asked the following questions:

Section 1: Get to Know the Candidate

  1. Why are you running in this election?
  2. Describe how your time living in your riding has informed your qualifications as a candidate?
  3. Describe how your time living in New Brunswick has informed your qualifications as a candidate?
  4. How does your experience (ie. education, lived experience, workplace) contribute to your qualifications as a candidate?
  5. If elected, what will be your top 5 priorities for your riding?

Section 2: FLIP Areas of Priority
What are your thoughts on the following areas? When applicable, please provide examples and solutions.

  1. LGBTQ+ and reproductive healthcare
  2. Access to mental health and/or addictions services
  3. Glyphosate use in New Brunswick
  4. Access to affordable housing in Saint John
  5. Police funding in Saint John
  6. Reporting and investigations of sexual assaults
  7. Municipal and Industrial Tax reform
  8. Access to public transit in Saint John
  9. Access to affordable childcare in Saint John
  10. Media Ownership in New Brunswick

Interview Transcript

1. Why are you running in this election?

 I think it’s pretty clear that I’m very driven and connected within my community and I’m driven on a mandate for not only change, but for more opportunity within Portland Simonds. I have a very strong focus on education, I have a very strong focus on healthcare, I have a very strong focus on the economy, and I have a very strong focus on the citizens. And I think that’s what’s most important is that I’m here to represent the citizens of Saint John. I do believe in a fiscally responsible province, but at the end of the day, we need to look after the citizens within our riding and I’m here for that. And I believe that after the last 20 years this riding deserves a change with an open mind that it reconnects with the citizens. And that’s exactly why I’m running.

2. Describe how the time living in your riding has informed your qualifications as a candidate.

Well, I’ve been in our riding for almost 17 years. I lived at one spot for almost nine years and then built a home and I’d been down there for close to a decade in our riding. So I’m rooted in our riding and have been around. I built businesses in this riding and I’ve investigated this riding significantly over the last decade as well, without divulging too far into that. My daughter was born in this riding. My family has grown up in this riding and I reside here because I love it. 

3. Describe how your time living in New Brunswick has informed your qualifications as a candidate.

 I wake up every morning, I read world news, I read national news, I read provincial news and I read local news. And I think that’s really important, to have an understanding that we step back when we have a clear understanding of how we got here, policies that are coming from federal to provincial and down in this bubble and how they all tie together and having a clear understanding of how that impacts our community. And so, that could range from, you know, facilities in our neighborhood, like the Saint John Regional Hospital and also economic opportunities that we’re seeing in our riding. So to answer your question, I’m informed because I do the homework.

4. How does your experience (ie. education, lived experience, workplace) contribute to your qualifications as a candidate?

 I built a school here in our riding, Forest School, which I started with five kids now and has over 70 kids that attend full time from September through to June. And if you want to step back and look at that, I’m very focused and rooted within our youth. And I recognize the youth are our next generation coming up and our future. I guess building a school in our community is a good way to show that I’m educated enough to support this riding.

5. If elected, what will be your top 5 priorities for your riding?

 Well, it may sound broad, but, I’ve contributed significantly to our foundation. So the Saint John Regional Hospital, I’m a heart patient there as well. So healthcare is very important to me and ensuring that we’re conscious of what’s available and accessible to all walks of life in our riding. In saying that education is a really important one for me, through building of our forest school, have developed a system that has significant impacts on our youth and all youth and all learning styles and all behavior styles. So, we want that focus to move forward as well in education. And the economy’s huge, I’m probably one of the few candidates that actually did the environmental impact assessment on an interchange project that was announced several years ago. And that was a major economic opportunity for Portland-Simonds that has been shelved by the government. And, so for me, the economy is what’s going to provide opportunities for our citizens and jobs for our citizens right here in Portland-Simond’s so there’s some key factors that are important to me.

6. LGBTQ+ and reproductive healthcare

 I think the [party name hidden] has taken a real progressive approach and you’ve heard Mr. Vickers speak in reference to the Clinic 554 up in Fredericton, and you’ve heard his stance on supporting and bringing together all New Brunswickers regardless of any division that separates us, as humans. So I guess at the end of the day, I’m fully on board with the platform that’s been presented from the [party name hidden], for sure.

7. Access to mental health and/or addictions services

 Well, that’s a loaded one for sure. I mean, at the end of the day, there’s a simple solution to that. It’s no different than a lot of our solutions. It requires financial investment. If you want to look at the description on our website at www.tim-jones.ca it clearly states in there that education needs to be combined with strong mental health and wellness supports. And we’re very clear on that. So I think it starts at the grassroots that we prepare our youth to handle the challenges of life.

8. Glyphosate use in New Brunswick

 Well, the [party name hidden] took a stand on that, and we all recognize that there’s some more study that’s required and there’s certainly an argument right down the middle on whether it’s a positive way forward or not. [party name hidden] government has announced that they’re going to ban the use of that on crown lands as a step within the next four years and the mandate, I think that’s a great step, you know, I think we have to be concerned and obviously work with our farmers and those out there that are looking after putting food on our table. That’s why I think they began with crown land, to be able to move that forward on a step-by-step basis. So I support the [party name hidden] platform.

9. Access to affordable housing in Saint John

 I just finished the interview with their budget with the Human Development Council here in Saint John just last week and they posted it on their YouTube. And, you know, I think you want to look at affordable housing. We talk about poverty, you know, 30% of our kids in our riding are under that line. And at the end of the day, it needs our attention, really from the grassroots from education. So we can break the cycle of poverty, but at the same time, it’s going to require a financial investment to ensure that we have the affordable housing to begin that. So that’s how I feel about that.

10. Police funding in Saint John

 I’ve never studied it. I’m going to be completely frank with you. It’s one of those jobs though that I will say, saves our lives, and I don’t take that lightly. I think at the end of the day, if I had the opportunity to sit down and have a clear understanding of where the shortfalls are from the police association and where the shortfalls are from the city of Saint John, and, you know, I’m just speaking to our municipality in itself, then I’d have a better position going forward. But I do know though, is that those positions save our lives and when we need them and I think that that’s something we need to do is continue to protect the citizens the most vulnerable within our city. And so for me, it would just be a matter of sitting down and having a better understanding of where those gaps lie. I fully support a fiscally responsible city, and I also fully support those that are out there risking their lives every day for us. So I think there’s a fine balance in all of that. I would love to be able to sit down and have a better understanding of what those numbers look like.

11. Reporting and investigations of sexual assaults

 Well, I think at the end of the day, if we have one issue, that’s too many. I believe every case matters. I believe that every situation deserves an investigation and I think every situation deserves the follow up and the answers that are required. As far as how I feel about it today, it’s difficult for me to comment when you’re looking at it as a holistic sort of a question versus on a case by case specific scenario. So I probably would be reluctant to say that it’s well looked after, because at the end of the day, you’d have to show me some more information exactly how your question is referring within this framework.

12. Municipal and Industrial Tax reform

 Well, I think at the end of the day, we all support that we recognize even within our riding here at Portland Simonds, that public safety is a major issue. We’re looking at closing a fire station, and I don’t take that lightly. In my view, we have a lot of seniors that live in our neighborhoods. And at the end of the day, I think it’s important that we recognize that services need to be available there for them. So I guess, when you step back and you look at public safety, that’s certainly a key interest for us, but how do we get there? I think tax reform is how we get there. I think that Vickers had announced just last week that industrial tax, he’s looking to keep that in the cities. And if you look at the city of Saint John, that’s the type of city we are, he never talked about raising them. He just talked about leaving them in those cities, and that’s a great first step for economic health and a stabilizer for the city of Saint John. So for me, I fully support tax reform.

13. Access to public transit in Saint John

 Well, the Higgs government left millions of dollars and walked out of meetings in Ottawa when the rest of the province had  jumped on board. And I think if you read about it loud and clear, our transportation is a must in any city, for not only all citizens, but specifically for those that are most vulnerable that require it. And so if we’re leaving money in Ottawa during a time when our transportation infrastructure is struggling, I struggle with that. I think that we’ve had a missed opportunity and I think it deserves more attention.

14. Access to affordable childcare in Saint John

 Yeah, that’s a loaded one. And that’s a provincial question versus Saint John in itself. And what I mean by that, as we have provincial programs that are heavily weighted towards trying to be able to support that affordability for childcare. I’m a believer in that. I mean, at the end of the day, if we’re not able to take our kids to childcare and go to work because it’s costing us too much, then we’re better off staying home. And that’s not the cycle that we’re looking for. We want to get people out and get them moving. So I think that’s a provincial matter more so than actually here, specifically in Saint John. We follow the Department of Education as it relates to childcare, therefore we’re following the Early Childhood Education Act. And so it’s not all well-defined within that. So I think it’s a priority not only within Saint John and it’s probably in our province.

15. Media Ownership in New Brunswick

 I think we all have the ability through social media to free speech now. So, I mean, if we want to step back and look at media, it can be defined as newsprint, it can be defined as radio, it could also be defined as social media. And so I think we all have a free range on platforms to be able to speak and how we feel in this environment and at the end of the day, I think that’s what we all require. That’s what we need. And that’s what makes us all strong. I mean, if you want to look at FLIP Saint John in itself, and how you’ve been able to get there, through media. I mean, it’s been through our local CBC, and it’s also been through social media platforms to be able to get your message out, and you’ve done it loud and clear, and you’ve done a good job with it. So in saying that, I think it’s well balanced at this point. And because we’ve been given new mediums to communicate over the last 10 years or 15 years, 20 years, I think the balance is there and we’re able to hold to account whatever issue or concern we have. And I think that’s important.

Candidate Interview: Courtney Pyrke

They/Them • Saint John Harbour • NDP

Listen to the full interview

About the interview

We have reached out to all candidates in Saint John-Lancaster, Portland-Simonds, Saint John Harbour, and Saint John East ridings. All candidates were contacted via email, phone, and social media. 10 out of the 22 candidates responded, and each was interviewed by phone. Candidates were not provided with the questions in advance, as our objective was to give each candidate an equal opportunity to provide honest, unscripted answers. Candidate interviews were transcribed in full, edited, and emailed back to candidates to confirm accuracy. Below is the recording of the interview followed by a transcript. We invite candidates, the media, and everyone from the public to download and share these interviews freely.

All candidates were asked the following questions:

Section 1: Get to Know the Candidate

  1. Why are you running in this election?
  2. Describe how your time living in your riding has informed your qualifications as a candidate?
  3. Describe how your time living in New Brunswick has informed your qualifications as a candidate?
  4. How does your experience (ie. education, lived experience, workplace) contribute to your qualifications as a candidate?
  5. If elected, what will be your top 5 priorities for your riding?

Section 2: FLIP Areas of Priority
What are your thoughts on the following areas? When applicable, please provide examples and solutions.

  1. LGBTQ+ and reproductive healthcare
  2. Access to mental health and/or addictions services
  3. Glyphosate use in New Brunswick
  4. Access to affordable housing in Saint John
  5. Police funding in Saint John
  6. Reporting and investigations of sexual assaults
  7. Municipal and Industrial Tax reform
  8. Access to public transit in Saint John
  9. Access to affordable childcare in Saint John
  10. Media Ownership in New Brunswick

Interview Transcript

1. Why are you running in this election?

Okay, so I’m running in the election because when I worked at the public librarian at the Saint John Free Public Library, I saw a lot of patrons, too. Voices and values weren’t being heard or listening to by the current government or the past government. And for me, I want to uplift my community to ensure that all the voices are being heard in my community and that everyone in my community is contributing to shaping our future.

2. Describe how the time living in your riding has informed your qualifications as a candidate.

Yeah, so I do live in my riding and I worked in my riding. I don’t work anymore. I’m unemployed, I’m a student now. So because of the school I go to, it’s that school outside of my riding. But when I worked in my riding, I saw a lot of injustice and I saw a lot of people who kind of weren’t being listened to and were kind of being left behind. A lot of people, like, just through my experience at the library, it seemed like they didn’t really care about politics. And I think that really stems down to, like, they were just constantly being let down by the government and having to jump through these hoops to do things like find housing or kind of get their way out of poverty. In my riding, we have the highest child poverty rate. So I think it’s just things like this, a large part of the community and my riding is this and is just constantly being let down by the government. So I think in terms of that, they just didn’t see the value. They don’t see the value in getting involved because they don’t trust the system, I guess. And I think for me, that’s disappointing to see, because I feel like everyone in my community should feel that they can get involved and should feel that like their voice matters. But I think through my experience, it wasn’t like that at all.

3. Describe how your time living in New Brunswick has informed your qualifications as a candidate.

Yeah, so I actually grew up in a different province. I am from Saint John. And so I have a unique experience in that I’ve seen kind of a different experience in a different province. And for that, I come here and, you know, we pay some of the highest taxes and we’re not getting the same quality of life, I guess, that they’re getting in other places where they’re paying less taxes. And I know there’s more people in those places and it’s, it’s different. But I do feel like here, it just seems like the system is a little bit more corrupt and it seems like it’s working more against people rather than for people.

4. How does your experience (ie. education, lived experience, workplace) contribute to your qualifications as a candidate?

Yeah, so I’m a student at the university and I’m studying education. So I’m kind of doing a deep dive into the curriculum system here to understand kind of like what students are learning in terms of information literacy skills. So that’s definitely been eye opening to see that there’s kind of a huge gap there, particularly in digital literacy and information literacy as well. My mom was actually a teen parent and she is from Saint John from the old North End. I grew up in poverty. So for me that experience, I guess, I don’t want any other child to have to go through what I went through when I, you know, grew up with a single parent living in poverty. So as a librarian and a public librarian, I am even actually working at a university, which has an academic library there. You know, I see a lot of students who are in crippling debt who can’t afford to eat who were at the university all day, every day without food. So that in like, you know, they’re exhausted, they’re tired. They’re constantly worrying about how they’re going to pay for next semester or how they’re going to pay for their rent. Like that has been pretty eye-opening for me. And then as well as the public, the other side of it at the public library where I’m working with more of the general public just seeing how let down people are, people just seem so depressed and there’s no hope left. That the system really is kind of beating them down. And oftentimes people will just tell me, “Oh, well, that’s just the way it is here”. But it doesn’t have to be like that.

5. If elected, what will be your top 5 priorities for your riding?

So number one would be tax reform and municipal reform. That’s a huge issue in New Brunswick in general. I mean, obviously it’s a huge issue in Saint John because the city is broke. But it definitely is. It affects kind of every, every part of New Brunswick. I mean, the rich keep getting richer and the poor keep getting poorer. And it’s definitely seen in Saint John Harbor.

My next one would be access to healthcare. I care about Clinic 554. I advocate for Clinic 554. I want to see that service paid for and I want to see that service extended across New Brunswick. As well as other services like primary care, we need to really put money in and focus and energy into primary care to have more family doctors and more nurses available to people here.

The next one would be education. So the Community Hub and Learning Commons that the South End is trying to get, Develop Saint John and Living Saint John are actually trying to get funding for by the provincial government. That’s a huge priority for me. We haven’t had a new school in 40 years! Four, zero, 40 years. So it’s more than just a school, it’s wraparound services. And that’s definitely something in a place that, where we have the highest child poverty, that’s a hundred percent needed to kind of uplift this riding.

I would say the other one is affordable housing. Affordable, mixed income housing is super important. I want to work with people like Dr. Julia Woodhall-Melnick, and Dr. Eric Wiseman, who specialize in this area at the university, and they have a lot of good ideas and good research in terms of changing the policy, like the double taxation and different things around that too, to change the way that the system was working in Saint John Harbor.

And I would say the last thing would be transit. Transit is important for like, for everyone really. Even if you have a car, I mean, I have two cars and I wish I didn’t have any cars. But it’s really hard to get around and in New Brunswick and Saint John without one, if you need to be constantly driving outside the city or if you have multiple jobs that you need to get from one job to the next, like the transit system is not good because it’s not properly funded here. And I really think that transit, it shouldn’t cost anything. It should be free. That should be covered by the provincial government, especially after COVID after so many people kind of got let go and had financial difficulties there. We need to focus on being able to get people back up onto their feet. 

6. LGBTQ+ and reproductive healthcare

Blaine Higgs doesn’t clearly see the obviousness in it, but repealing 84-20 would be the biggest thing, the main priority that needs to go. And on top of that, I’m working with the New Brunswick Medical Society and the healthcare workers in the city. So I know that even if 84-20 gets axed, there are still a lot of barriers that need to be addressed. So for example, the way that the billing system works in New Brunswick with the medical billing system, I don’t know, like a lot about that, cause I’m not a healthcare professional, but I know that it’s an issue and it needs to be addressed just based on my conversations with the New Brunswick Medical Society.

Regulation 84-20 affects the payment for the required equipment in the family practice offices, because the equipment in the hospitals is currently being paid for mostly by the government. But in a family practice office there’s currently no policy or anything that holds the government to having to pay for those, for that equipment. So when you provide an abortion, you need to have ultrasound equipment and if the government is not going to pay for that, then that holds onto the family practitioners to pay for that. So I think it’s definitely a complicated issue in terms of reproductive health. We need to be working with the medical society. I know that they recently released an ask of their demands for the incoming government.

So I think it’s important to work alongside them in terms of these issues, rather than kind of pretending that, you know, how this is gonna work. Because like I said, I’m not a healthcare person, so I don’t have all the answers and I don’t work in that field, but you know, they do. So for me, it’d be really important to work alongside them. And also on that note is in terms of educating doctors on LGBTQ+ health, that’s a huge issue. So the system is kind of flawed in that a doctor technically never has to learn anything about LGBTQ+ health. So they do have to take continuing education credits every year to a certain number. But they get to choose what they want to take. There’s no mandatory course or subject that they have to take or learn about.

So technically a doctor could go, like I said, 50 years and never have to learn about LGBTQ+ health. So I think that in itself needs to be addressed. That’s an issue that needs to be addressed with the College of Physicians and Doctors because they kind of control/mandate that, so kind of making sure we’re holding those doctors accountable. Like I asked my family doctor, what are you doing to learn about LGBTQ+ health? What are you doing to learn about black people? Because you know, those symptoms are different on that skin tone than white skin tone. So yeah, it’s a complicated issue that we would have to work alongside the medical societies and the College of Physician and Doctors with.

7. Access to mental health and/or addictions services

So I think that those and I believe this is in the [party name hidden] platform as well. That service needs to be covered by Medicare. That’s the first barrier, is that it’s not covered by Medicare. So you know, for both myself and my spouse, we pay, I think each, we pay $200 a month, so $400 a month for therapy and counseling. And that needs to be covered by Medicare. It’s ridiculous that anyone has to pay that much to take care of their mental health. I mean, mental health is just as important as physical health. So definitely that, and I think making sure we’re doing a better job at recruiting these people, these professionals into the province. So for example, my therapist needs to take more people in, like she’s told me if you know anyone who needs counseling, let me know. But the problem is that people can’t afford it.

So I think we need to kind of figure that out and pay for that service for people. I know that Family Plus offers a sliding scale model where they charge based on what you can afford. But you know, a lot of people don’t know about that. And also I don’t know, I feel like some people feel like, “Oh, well, you know, I should be able to pay the full price like everybody else”. So they either don’t go and see it or, or they don’t take advantage of that service. But yeah, it definitely needs to be covered by the government fully. And I think that would help people going to see counselors because you don’t need to go to the Mercantile Center. You can just go to a counselor or therapist in the city instead.

8. Glyphosate use in New Brunswick

So for that we just need to stop using it. We need to stop spraying. We need to, you know, stop hurting our environment the way that we are, we only have one earth. And we need to take care of it the best we can. So I mean, this is a subject that I don’t know a lot about because it’s not something I study every day. I work in education, I don’t work in environment. So for [party name hidden] again, we are working with the professionals on this topic. We’re lucky in that, you know, in New Brunswick we have academics and we have a few universities and environmental specialists that we can lean on to to help us with these issues. I think for me, that’s definitely what I would be doing is educating myself through consulting the professionals and what we can do to get away from the spraying on the province

9. Access to affordable housing in Saint John

It’s about mixed income. Housing is really important and it’s a model that they use in a lot of other places in Ontario. So for something like this, we do have specialists that are literally in Saint John working on this issue. So Dr. Julia Woodhall-Melnick and Dr. Eric Wiseman specialize in homelessness and housing. Julia Woodhall-Melnick worked with Dr. Jim Dunn who is the Canadian Institute of Health Research Chair in Ontario. Him and his team in Hamilton had been doing a lot of work around affordable mixed income housing. So we should be kind of looking at those models and the work that they’ve done to implement that here in Saint John.  The double taxation needs to go. That’s a huge barrier as well for the province. I know that Dr. Eric Wiseman has been working on tiny homes, which is a really interesting concept that we could introduce in Saint John and in New Brunswick in general, to help get people off the streets and to help provide people with homes. But I really do think that the answer would be the mixed income housing. People like landlords are so skeptical about it because they think that, Oh, when they take someone in who was homeless, they’re not going to pay their rent, or they’re gonna cause problems, or kinda like mess up the apartment or whatever. But we know from research that it’s actually better to have somebody in your apartment building that experienced homelessness, because when they receive their government funding for their housing, that money automatically goes to the landlord. So you’re guaranteed the rent from that person rather than, you know, a working individual who might  leave their job or something might come up. So yeah, I think definitely mixed income housing is really important and something that we need to look into and implement here in the Harbour and then New Brunswick.

10. Police funding in Saint John

So I am definitely pro Defund the Police, but I think it’s more than that. And so obviously the police need more training for sure. Like they need more mental health training and more training in those areas that they’re not getting from their courses at Holland college or wherever else they might take that if they go to Ontario or something. So they definitely need more training there and more support there. But I think it’s also about taking money from the police budget and spending it on more social services. I was talking to Donna Reardon about this who told me that, you know, they need police officers in her area because there’s drug issues and kind of vandalism issues. But if these people had better support in social services, we know from research that the vandalism and the drug use and that would be lower. So we definitely need to give the police more training and support in that way, but also we need to take money from that and put it into other social services.

11. Reporting and investigations of sexual assaults

So I think that kind of falls in line with the more training for police officers. It’s tricky because, I mean, personally, I think that when you report something like this, it should be reported to the police, but also the Sexual Health Center or something like that. Somewhere there is a specialist that knows more about these issues than the police would. So kind of including this organization in those reports, I think would help with that issue. I don’t know a lot about the back-end about how that would work, but I would like to see kind of the Sexual Health Center or, you know, some sort of other body similar to that work with these individuals who are reporting as well as the police, so that we can guarantee that these reports are being dealt with in an appropriate way. I think it’s kind of foolish that we’re only relying on the police to deal with this where, you know, they don’t really have that in-depth experience working with sexual assault survivors or sexual assault victims.

12. Municipal and Industrial Tax reform

So I think it needs to be done. It needs to, we need to tax the rich or, you know, the Irving’s or the McCain’s or whoever you want to, whatever you want to label as the rich and give that money back into social services, back into the nonprofits, back into the community partners, and back into transit. The rich in the city keep getting richer and the poor keep getting poorer and, you know, it doesn’t need to be like that. We need to kind of comprehensively reevaluate how taxes and how this poor reform is looked at in our city. I met with Don Darling and talked to him about his document that he had released to the candidates that are running and I think it’s important to work alongside the city and make sure that taxes are staying in Saint John. Not only staying in Saint John, but being used in a way that benefits, you know, the people at the bottom. So we should be taking care of the people at the bottom rather than kind of giving these organizations tax breaks. The tax breaks that the Irving building got uptown, like stuff like that needs to, needs to stop.

13. Access to public transit in Saint John

So I actually went to the rally, the Saint John Transit rally recently, and I was talking to the union rep there. And he had informed me that the commission that the city has for transit is actually ending and that the city is taking over transit completely now. And that just puts that more of a burden on the city. So I do think that transit needs to be funded by the provincial government. I’m really disappointed that Blaine Higgs didn’t take the money from the federal government to help support transit after COVID. I think that transit should be free. I think that it should be better than what it is now. We need more routes, more buses, and also more inter-city buses as well. So like the COMEX, for example, and you have to run more often and needs to run later. I don’t want to take that service completely away from the city. Like, I obviously want them to have a voice in that service, but I think that the government needs to play a bigger role, particularly in funding it and in supporting transit in not just Saint John, but in every city in New Brunswick.

14. Access to affordable childcare in Saint John

Yeah, so that’s actually in the [party name hidden] platform. We support universally funded childcare. It’s really important. We know from research and from past experiences that oftentimes when a parent has to stay home because of COVID or for whatever other reason, it is oftentimes the mother. So, you know, women are having to stay home with kids and not able to go back to work. So we need to ensure that when both parents, or both caregivers, or one caregiver, depending on the situation, decides to go back to work, that they can go back to work worry-free without having to stress about how they’re going to pay for childcare throughout the day. And then on top of that, how they’re going to buy food and how they’re going to buy clothes and all that kind of stuff. We need to make sure that parents and caregivers can go back to work, worry free, and that their kids are being taken care of and that the government’s doing their part in funding childcare. It’s so expensive in New Brunswick.

15. Media Ownership in New Brunswick

Yeah, so this is something as a librarian that I really care about because I think that all information should be open and free to all people. I think for media ownership, it’s just a way to kind of keep information from people or kind of, I don’t want to use this word, but it’s basically a way to dumb down the system. So when media is owned by one particular organization, such as Irving, it’s a way to control the narrative and in an entire province, which is our situation right now. So the news that like our grandparents get and our parents and even maybe friends are getting is right from Irving. It’s obviously biased. We need to do a better job at teaching people the information literacy, which is something that I care about so that when people are reading the newspaper, they know that it’s being funded by Irving.

It’s being written by X person and X person has, you know, published this or published that, I don’t want to get into specifics, but it’s the same in research when an article or a research project is funded by big pharma. You know that the research might be biased because of who funded the project. So it’s the same for immediate ownership and for news as well. You need to know more about who’s writing the article and where it’s coming from, where it’s being published, or like, what paper is being published to understand how this information might be biased for media ownership.

I don’t know what the answer would be to end that. I know that BNI has been taken to court a few times now to end this media ownership. So like, I don’t know what the answer is to ending that, but it definitely needs to be, it needs to stop. I don’t support the media ownership here and I think it’s hurting our province more than helping.

Candidate Interview: Mike Cyr

He/Him They/Them • Saint John Harbour • Independent

Listen to the full interview

About the interview

We have reached out to all candidates in Saint John-Lancaster, Portland-Simonds, Saint John Harbour, and Saint John East ridings. All candidates were contacted via email, phone, and social media. 10 out of the 22 candidates responded, and each was interviewed by phone. Candidates were not provided with the questions in advance, as our objective was to give each candidate an equal opportunity to provide honest, unscripted answers. Candidate interviews were transcribed in full, edited, and emailed back to candidates to confirm accuracy. Below is the recording of the interview followed by a transcript. We invite candidates, the media, and everyone from the public to download and share these interviews freely.

All candidates were asked the following questions:

Section 1: Get to Know the Candidate

  1. Why are you running in this election?
  2. Describe how your time living in your riding has informed your qualifications as a candidate?
  3. Describe how your time living in New Brunswick has informed your qualifications as a candidate?
  4. How does your experience (ie. education, lived experience, workplace) contribute to your qualifications as a candidate?
  5. If elected, what will be your top 5 priorities for your riding?

Section 2: FLIP Areas of Priority
What are your thoughts on the following areas? When applicable, please provide examples and solutions.

  1. LGBTQ+ and reproductive healthcare
  2. Access to mental health and/or addictions services
  3. Glyphosate use in New Brunswick
  4. Access to affordable housing in Saint John
  5. Police funding in Saint John
  6. Reporting and investigations of sexual assaults
  7. Municipal and Industrial Tax reform
  8. Access to public transit in Saint John
  9. Access to affordable childcare in Saint John
  10. Media Ownership in New Brunswick

Interview Transcript

1. Why are you running in this election?

Well, the biggest thing is, other than being sick of being an arm chair advocate for various things in government, I really wanted to step up. I’ve done a bit to help my community and the people around me. And I see the same thing happen every time we elect someone new, and I want to do something different. I’m sick of the petty party politics that everybody else goes on… You wind up voting somebody in, and they just wind up fighting for the party instead of the people that elected them. With myself running as an independent… If people vote me in and I get in, I am not behooven to hold party lines, I can be nimble and do what’s needed for the city. 

2. Describe how the time living in your riding has informed your qualifications as a candidate.

Well, the easiest way, because living is kind of a loose word… living would be in this riding. Most of my time has been couch surfing, a brief period, squatting, living in a business that I had up here generally suffering all the yields of unaffordable housing, and all the uncertainty of housing in this city. In addition to just generally living here, hearing what people have to say, knowing what the problems are, because I don’t just see them, I live them.

3. Describe how your time living in New Brunswick has informed your qualifications as a candidate.

So as New Brunswick as a whole I’ve seen a lot of it. I’ve been to most of it, and I’ve spent a large portion of time. I tried living in Moncton. I’ve tried living in Fredericton. I’ve spent quite a bit of time in Sussex. Yet again, you get to meet the people, you get to see the problems and as somebody like myself, you wind up living those problems. You see the shortcomings of all the different areas of this province. You see the people who are struggling and why they’re struggling. I’m not just an outside observer saying I hear the statistics on this. I’m either one of the statistics or I’m directly related or sitting with those statistics.

4. How does your experience (ie. education, lived experience, workplace) contribute to your qualifications as a candidate?02: Well, my main and most consistent gig as of late has been a barber. People come into the shop on Germain street and they tell me about their problems. Nobody’s truer and more honest and open about what’s going on with their world, then in a barber chair. I hear the complaints. I hear the concerns. Furthermore to that, I have been a member of the local arts community for a very long time, particularly in the world of music. And if you want to meet people on the fringe of society, both in the goods and the bads, it’s musicians. They’re the ones who deal a lot with the problems. So I hear it from them. And as far as knowing how the solutions go, a lot of these solutions are a lot more simple than most people would like to think… a problem with homelessness. It’s not a complicated process, but to have somebody who’s actually been there, who sees it, it makes it easier. And working with the people every day, my entire career, that’s what I think informs, and gives me the best education I needed, to know what’s going on here.

5. If elected, what will be your top 5 priorities for your riding?

The top five priorities would be: number one, housing insecurity and homelessness in general, food insecurity, I mean the fact that people are still going to bed without food and their stomach in the city is appalling, considering how much we make.

Educational reform, the amount of people who are leaving schools in this province that are having a difficult time, even understanding basic reading. We really got to take a look at what we’re doing and set ourselves up, not only for a better future for all of those individuals, but as a province, as a whole.

Healthcare reforms… Our healthcare, I mean, it’s good, but it’s not great. I’ve experienced a lot of the problems with our health care and the shortcomings, something just as simple as myself, I went through a period of time where I had a hernia and I was waiting on surgery and that made me very ineffective at my job. So I’m not earning as much. It’s putting me at risk and everything else just due to the long wait times. It’s a lot better to get people up and running again, as fast as humanly possible so that they could get back to the normality of their life and not have so many concerns and worries as well as our mental healthcare issues and all that, that healthcare really, we need to take a look at it. Maybe what we’re doing is entirely wrong. Maybe it needs a ground up rebuild, but that’s another story for probably another question later down the line, we also have a fifth big thing would be tax reform, tax reform, tax reform. If your candidates out there aren’t preaching that, there not doing it right. 

That’s the biggest thing to be able to help everybody get things running, right? We need to start putting money where it’s supposed to be and making everything a lot more fair. If you’re in the poorest section of New Brunswick and you’re paying the highest taxes in that area, there’s something that doesn’t add up. Yeah. We need to make things add up at the end of the day. And that’s really what we’ve got to do. The industrial tax, in with that, really needs to be looked at as well. I mean, if you’ve got to suffer the sights, the sounds, and as we all know the smells of heavy industry, we should also be reaping all the rewards from it as well. And we’re just not with  provincial government keeping a hold of all the industrial tax money.

6. LGBTQ+ and reproductive healthcare

Straight up, that one I feel is easy when you have places like Clinic 554. We don’t need to just fund that one. We need to fund one of those in every major city center. We need doctors who are trained and knowledgeable in the issues that come up there and doctors that aren’t just going to refuse because they’re not trained on dealing with somebody that is trans for instance, like we don’t want anybody to not be able to receive the same health as everybody else in a timely, healthy, and manageable way.

7. Access to mental health and/or addictions services

We definitely need to step that up. I have dealt with so many people with mental health issues in Saint John and tried to help them attain them, and the fact that they’re rarely attainable, and if they are, requires so much work to get, we really need to focus on that. And not just from a -it’s the right thing to do perspective-, but even if you look at it from keeping your population healthy and mentally well, means they are working, they’re no longer a liability line, if you will, they are now an asset line, because they are productive, healthy, happy member of society. It’s way cheaper just to make their mental health better than it is to not deal with it at all, or deal with it poorly.

8. Glyphosate use in New Brunswick

Just stop doing it. Other areas have banned it. We should be doing the same. It doesn’t make a lot of sense to be doing something that really only benefits the heavy industry. It doesn’t benefit all of us.

9. Access to affordable housing in Saint John

House the homeless and ensure people who have homes now are worried about it just makes good sense. If you take care of people too, at the end of the day, basic needs like food and shelter, everything else becomes easier and cheaper, frankly, focusing on affordable housing and at the end of the day, even free housing for those that absolutely need it, is going to save us so much money. It just doesn’t make good financial sense to keep slapping bandaids on… That costs way more than it is to just solve it.

10. Police funding in Saint John

Honestly we need a complete restructuring of our emergency services in Saint John, including the police. One, because they’re doing jobs that their entire job wasn’t meant to do. They are another great example of band aid fixes being applied to problems instead of just dealing with the problem. When you start looking at crime, how much crime is driven by poverty in this city? So why are we giving more money to police to deal with crime that is a result of poverty, instead of just resolving the poverty, so we don’t need the police. It’s finding ways to solve problems before it comes to police. Police should be our last line on anything we do because, it sounds horrible, but they are a lot more like a janitor in anything with society, they clean up after everything else has failed. So if we don’t have things failing as much, we don’t need to have them as much. And that’s really, we should be working towards a future where we don’t have them. I mean, they’re still going to be there, but if we can do things in a way better way, we should even be doing things such as less necessarily criminal policing and moving more towards things like even just traffic control, having a better setup for that, because, why is a police officer going to a non-hazardous, if you will, traffic accident, when really at the end of the day, it’s to take a couple of photos and fill out forms so that the insurance companies can decide what’s actually going to happen. We don’t need to have an armed officer taking care of that.

11. Reporting and investigations of sexual assaults

We really have to look deep into that, and not just here in Saint John, not just in New Brunswick, but globally needs to really change their attitudes on what’s going on with that. The fact that our ratio of, and yet again, nothing’s been proven, but claim sexual assault versus solve to resolve cases, versus it’s just left to sit there, cause they say there’s no proof, there’s no evidence, there’s no anything. They need to do a lot more work and actually do the police work that we are kind of overpaying them for anyway. At the end of the day, do your job. We absolutely have to have you. We absolutely have to pay this amount. Maybe whenever somebody brings up a claim, you should probably do the job and investigate it. Otherwise people are going to be screaming to defund you.

12. Municipal and Industrial Tax reform

Oh, definitely. And I’ll be a hundred percent clear and transparent. Do I, a hundred percent, know what needs to replace it? No, but I’ve got some great ideas of ways that we can work at, but we’re working with a tax system that’s sixty years old. I mean, I don’t know about you, but a lot of people won’t even live in a home that old, for fear of what the problems it has. Why are we using a tax system that’s old? We need to do a much better job of making things fair. If that means converting to regional taxation versus individual municipalities and everything else, then maybe that’s the way we have to go. But at the end of the day, we need to make sure everybody paying taxes is not only paying their fair share, but getting their fair share for the taxes that they do pay.

13. Access to public transit in Saint John

How can you be worried about the people at the bottom rung of a society’s ladder, as far as financial and risk and everything else go, if you’re not worried about public transit. And a lot of people say… “Well, we don’t have the ridership”. Well, if you don’t have good service, people aren’t going to use it. So it becomes kind of a chicken and the egg. If you build a stellar transportation system, you’re going to get people using it. It’s when a transportation system and a general active transportation isn’t helpful to people, that’s when they stop using it, that’s when it stops being feasible and everything else. We’ve got to start from a good position if you want to stay in a good position. And it is one of the most important thing to keeping your citizens mobile and working and everything else

14. Access to affordable childcare in Saint John

So yet again, if you want your citizens to be happy, healthy, and gainfully employed, they’ve gotta be able to have a spot to put the rug rats. It’s really gotta be a thing that we’re working and doing a lot better on. I know a lot of work has come up on it, but we need to do a better job. If that means we have to look at it as a public thing. If that means we have to start looking at it as giving more incentives to private things, then we’ve got to do whatever is going to do the best thing to get childcare available for individuals. I mean, some of the biggest stuff, if we really want to recover from COVID, and give women, who traditionally wind up stuck at home with the kids, back into the workforce as well, we need to make childcare affordable and available. We disproportionately punish a large portion of our population by not providing affordable and easily accessible childcare.

15. Media Ownership in New Brunswick

Oh, the whole monopoly thing, right? It’s ridiculous. Now some can argue that, oh yes, they have a monopoly cause nobody else has tried to do anything, but often anytime anybody else tries to do anything, they get basically strangled and choked out of the market by the giant ones. This is why things like CBC are still good because they, although they are a little left leaning, they still are fairly neutral towards these things. And we do need to encourage more media to grow in New Brunswick. Oh, do we ever! It would be lovely to see things back, like various broadcast stations out of Saint John that we had that were not owned by a giant mega oligarchy monopoly. We need available media, we need non-biased media, one that’s not spinning it from one point or another. We need the most neutral media we can have show up and still tell interesting and decent stories. Unfortunately, not a lot of people are stepping up to the plate anymore. Whether it’s out of fear, whether it’s out of lack of finances, and, if at the end of the day, that’s something that we have to fund maybe, but even then my fear is of government funded media often tend to lean or bias towards the hand that feeds, if you will. So independent media, it is incredibly important. I wish we had more if there were ways… If people had great ways to foster it, I’d love to hear it. I worked briefly in journalism myself and just getting started up to get to that audience and maintain a solid journalistic ethic of standards is incredibly difficult and incredibly hard. And I really hope some people out there are up to the challenge.