New Brunswick Green Party leader David Coon says serving in the provincial legislature is like taking a cruise and getting an opportunity to go up on the bridge to see who’s steering the boat, only to find it empty and “discovering that everyone’s down in the boiler room playing poker with the high rollers.”
“It’s no wonder we’ve got problems,” he said during an election rally in Sackville on Thursday. “I think like some of you, I too have the feeling that there’s actually no one in charge, there’s really no one running the province.”
Coon outlined a long list of problems including overworked, burned-out hospital nurses, nursing home and home-care workers, and paramedics; ambulances that can take 45 minutes to respond to emergencies as well as long wait times for mental health services.
“The time it takes to get into seeing a psychiatrist or psychologist, if you can find one, is unsafe for many people,” Coon said.
He added that he spoke to the doctors in charge of emergency rooms in Moncton and Fredericton. “They both said the same thing to me, ‘David the waiting times are unsafe for some of our patients.'”
Coon pointed to other gaps: “Child protection, social welfare, affordable housing, it’s system critical,” he said.
“In a sense, there is no one running the province, the province is not being run for our benefit as it should be,” he added.
“From a democratic perspective, we’ve come to a pretty sorry place where the old-line parties are so preoccupied with their own political fortunes and so captured by the special interests of the few that they’ve lost track of the fact that their job is to actually provide good government and as a result, the Liberals and Tories have taken measures that have degraded the quality of our public services.”
Coon was in Sackville to support Megan Mitton, the town councillor who is once again carrying the Green banner in the Memramcook-Tantramar riding for the provincial election on September 24.
In her speech, Mitton highlighted a key theme of the Green campaign, relying more on local, community solutions.
“We need to build a more integrated health care system with decentralized health care programs to complement urgent care facilities,” she said. “We need local delivery and governance, such as through community health care clinics.”
Mitton, who says she has knocked on at least 200 doors so far from Sackville to Memramcook and Port Elgin, also mentioned the importance of buying local food.
“The other day I had the option to buy Belliveau Orchard apples from Memramcook or apples from New Zealand,” she said. “”We need to make sure institutions are buying local and healthy food for our children in schools, patients in hospitals and so on,” she added.
Mitton also called on New Brunswickers to move away from what she called “a scarcity mindset” and a “have-not mentality.”
“We live in a beautiful region with hard-working and creative people, and an abundance of natural resources,” she said. “The key is to manage them responsibly and ensure that the wealth is distributed more fairly.”