Bonnie Swift promises as Tantramar mayor to end secrecy, promote citizen engagement

Tantramar mayoralty candidate Bonnie Swift

Bonnie Swift says she decided to run for mayor of the new town of Tantramar because she wants to end the secrecy that has prevailed in Sackville’s local government.

“Actually, it was the biggest thing that motivated me to run, get the information to the people,” she said yesterday during an interview with Warktimes.

“I want the public to know what their town is doing and how they’re managing everything inside that town.”

As one example of secrecy, Swift points to the $28,000 Montana report on how to end bullying, harassment and favouritism in the Sackville fire department that has never been released to the public.

“I want to see the Montana report, what I can see, what I’m allowed to legally see, I would want to see,” she says, adding that the town government has been too closed.

“I mean that report is probably under lock and key in some CAO desk somewhere,” she says.

“If something’s not functioning right or people are being harassed and abused, as a mayor, I would want to know about that.”

Swift also says firefighters need better protection as whistleblowers.

“Whistleblowers are very important to the functionality of everything,” she says, “and I really didn’t like the silencing of the fire department.”

Swift notes that under Sackville’s whistleblower policies, firefighters are expected to report their concerns to senior management even when those managers may be causing their problems.

“As Mayor no whistleblowers will ever be silenced,” Swift writes in her platform document entitled “Fighting for Open Government.”

‘Citizen engagement’

Bonnie Swift addressing Sackville council last June

Swift’s platform position on “citizen engagement” partly reflects the circumstances that led to her appearance before Sackville town council last June as a member of Concerned Citizens.

The 35-member group called unsuccessfully on council to re-open a zoning change clearing the way for the AIL plastic pipe plant on Walker Road.

Concerned Citizens pointed out that residents of the area were not notified about the development before council held a public hearing on the zoning change before finally approving it.

In her mayoralty platform, Swift writes it’s a good example of the municipality’s poor citizen engagement process.

“One of the largest developments, if not the largest development, is currently happening in our town, yet almost none of the citizens in the region knew about it until the massive 18-acre clear cut took place,” she writes.

During our interview, Swift criticized town council for failing to do any research in order to answer residents’ questions about the potential effects on groundwater, air emissions or traffic in the area.

“I think, because the council is the first line of defence, you can’t rely on other levels of government, it’s your responsibility to keep the community safe, to keep the environment safe and to take care of public welfare,” she says.

“So, if you are not doing that, you’re not representing the people.”

Swift promises that if she’s elected mayor, “these types of inadequate practices will stop” because “poor engagement creates a lot of distrust with both the Council and the developer.”


Swift points in her platform to what she calls the “double standard” on climate change.

In 2001, Sackville town council passed a bylaw banning any further fast-food drive-thrus next to the TransCanada highway, a ban that it re-affirmed in 2016.

“I don’t think it’s fair to prevent a small business from expanding or having a drive-thru due to idling cars if you are going to have large manufacturing facilities go in without questioning their environmental footprint,” she writes referring, for example, to greenhouse gas emissions from the manufacture of plastics.

“Nobody in our council ever asked what the climate footprint of the plastics plant would be,” she says.

“We should have fair processes that evaluate everything, everything should be put under a climate lens, big business, small business, whatever comes into town; if we’re going to have a climate lens for this, let’s put everybody under it fairly or nobody under it at all.”


Swift does not mention fracking for shale gas in her platform, but during our interview, she said that as an environmental engineer, she knows that the public has received a lot of misinformation about it over the years.

That’s why she paid for a full-page ad on fracking in the Sackville Tribune-Post in 2012.

“I believe people should know the truth,” she says. “I worked on 1,200 fracked wells in groundwater protection and so, I know the industry.”

Swift says the critics had never worked on even a single shale or natural gas well.

“So, I thought who better to get the actual good, bad and ugly out about this industry,” she explains.

“I wanted people to know what’s involved, what we do to protect the environment and what the real risks are…

“I’ve never had to remediate a site because of fracking, ever.”

Swift acknowledges that there are some risks to fracking, mostly because of surface contamination, but says industry practices have now minimized those risks.

“I certainly don’t believe you should be fracking in the middle of a town, but if there’s remote locations where they’re developing wells, you know, there’s a possibility then,” she says.

“Is fracking right for Sackville?” Swift asks. “I don’t know. If people don’t want it, they don’t want it, but they should know everything about it before they make that decision.”


Bonnie Swift visited her hometown of Dorchester on November 1st to talk to about 25 people who attended the Tuesday Neighbour Café at the Moving Forward Co-operative on Station Street.

“This is what a community should look like, I don’t want smaller communities like Dorchester to be ignored,” she said.

“I have an ear and as mayor, I would listen.”

Swift grew up in Dorchester, one of six children in a working class family.

To read more about her background as well as her position on issues such as the hospital and heath care crisis, affordable housing and climate change as outlined in her 10-page campaign platform document, click here.

This entry was posted in Town of Tantramar and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

30 Responses to Bonnie Swift promises as Tantramar mayor to end secrecy, promote citizen engagement

  1. Kata List Productions says:

    Excellent! Thanks Bruce and Bonnie – lovely to see a very ethical lady running!

  2. Geoff Martin says:

    It’s great that we have a capable third candidate for Mayor. Recent news, reported by Erica Butler at CHMA radio, is that the advisory committee secretly recommended to the provincial “facilitator” in August that the new Tantramar mayor and councillor salaries be TRIPLED over the current Sackville rate. This recommendation has been accepted and presumably this will be inserted into the 2023 Tantramar budget by the facilitator. This is new spending of well over $100,000 per year.

    One of the things that I will be looking for in candidates is for them to say “this is wrong and if I am elected we will re-examine it and hopefully a majority will agree to roll it back to something more reasonable.” In 2024 at least, if 2023 is now set in stone (thanks to Higgs and Allain).

    If Bruce will indulge me ….
    Hefty raises on the way for new Tantramar mayor and council » CHMA:

  3. Peter says:

    Bonnie Swift’s platform for Mayor of Tantramar is a refreshing, articulate statement of principles that bespeak a candidate who will dedicate herself to transparency in all circumstances that permit it. This is clearly someone who will work with Council to restore the democratic functioning of our local government. It is time that the citizens of Tantramar have a trustworthy Mayor and Council who together will work to guarantee, to the extent possible, an honest, open and respectful environment for the difficult years ahead dealing with the downloaded financial burdens imposed by the provincial government.

  4. Dale says:

    Wow,finally someone who is ethical and will represent what is best for the welfare of the community .Making good decisions based on doing the research and what is the right choice for the safety and health of the community is a challenging job. ..Here is a candidate that is willing to put the hard work and an honest approach into what is right and best ,not try to sneak things in that benefit certain people that have a hidden agenda that is self serving.Bonnie would be a very good asset to a step in the right direction for this community.They would be fortunate to have someone of her rare integrity and calibre as Mayor of Tantramar!

  5. Carolyn Boland says:

    I read your article but I only see that Bonnie is running for Mayor of Sackville.There is no mention of Dorchester and the other areas that make up the new Tantramar region. She only talks about what she will do for Sackville.
    We live in Middleton and if our taxes are going to increase I want some, at least a fraction of the money go to other areas besides Sackville.
    Since moving here 8 years ago we are seeing a revitalization of the Dorchester area with new farming (Willow Farms, Homestead Farms, etc), B&Bs, plus Greater Dorchester Moving Forward Co-operative & Station 8 Community Fridge to name a few. Recently the Dorchester Daycare Center had to move to a new location because it had out grown it’s original space. This means there are new people moving to the area. Many older homes are being renovated for instance Lady Smith Manor and several residences in Dorchester & Middleton.
    Dorchester wants to be known as a place for people to come, stay and enjoy what it has to offer and not as a Drive Thru community.
    So I would like to hear what Bonnie & the other candidates are going to do for Dorchester & area and remind them that we are a part of the region as well as Sackville. We want our “share of the pie and not just the crumbs.”
    We may not have the population of Sackville but we have heart and care about our community!

    • Peter says:

      I believe that the point of the newly named united “entity” of Tantramar is based on relative distribution of population, I fail to see how Bonnie Swift’s platform can be construed to be detrimental to any one of the five communities that make up the township of Tantamar. The new town councillors will need to work together to ensure the needs of the whole are equitably met in all its parts. Remember that the four units outside Sackville proper have four voices on council, equal in numbers to the four voices of the the Sackville councilors. In other words, the four outlying communities have the same weight and voice as the community of Sackville.

    • Kata List Productions says:

      You might like to know that Bonnie Swift is from Dorchester and is one of the old school women — she has common sense and wisdom and kindness on her side… I like her… I know her husband.. these are sound thinking people. We could do a lot worse on this first Tantramar mayor’s run… think hard about what you want for your area and work towards it with others — we are literally all building this new world, not the politicians… stay positive! Thanks for your comment.

      • Bonnie says:

        Thanks, Kata, I really don’t get Carolyn comments. I grew up in Dorchester, I am the President of the Westmorland Historical Society in Dorchester. I pour tons of volunteer hours into Dorchester every year. As President of the WHS, I manage the Keillor House and St. James Church. We also host numerous and large events in Dorchester all the time. Also manage historical properties like the Bell Inn and the Payzant Card. Our society host the public library in our Payzant card building. Currently, I am the only Mayoral Candidate who is actively engaging in Dorchester and has been for years. I work with Meriam Andrews at the Lady Smith on various town activities all the time. We are on the same board.

    • Bonnie says:

      I grew up in Dorchester, I am the President of the Westmorland Historical Society there. I pour tons of volunteer hours into that community as their President. I manage the Keillor House and St. James Church. We also host numerous and large events in Dorchester all the time. I also manage the Keillor House Museum and St James Museum as well as many of the historical properties like the Bell Inn and the Payzant Card. Our society hosts the public library in our Payzant card building. I am speaking at Dorchester moving forward tomorrow. It would have helped to ask me Candidates before posting something like this. I am the only Mayoral Candidate who is actively engaging in Dorchester and has been for many years. I work with Meriam Andrews at the Lady Smith on various town activities all the time, we are on the same board. Ask the Citizens like Alice Folkins about me, she was volunteer of the year there and we work together continuously. Dorchester in my hometown and I care about it deeply. Dorchester is one of reasons I ran. I don’t want smaller communities being ignored.

    • brucewark says:

      Thanks so much for your comment Carolyn and so nice to meet you today at the Tuesday Neighbour Cafe in Dorchester. I’ve updated the story to include Bonnie Swift’s appearance at the gathering as well as the fact that she grew up in Dorchester.

  6. Tim Reiffenstein says:

    Interesting that Bonnie Swift is both for (pipe plant) and against (fracking) the precautionary principle. Not always possible to have it both ways in public office.

    • Susan says:

      Wrong she didn’t say that. She said she is for all industrial development when done right. She is against the lack of public engagement with the citizens and the double standards this town applies when evaluating small and large business for climate change. Since most of the citizens up there didn’t know about the plastic pipe plant, she is pretty bang on about that. If you read her platform that should have been abundantly clear.

    • Bonnie says:

      I worked on Nova Chemicals Polyethylene plant in Joffrey, AB. It is one of the biggest manufactures of polyethylene thermoplastics in Canada. The only difference was the town, and the developer actively engaged the citizens. Whereas the citizens of Sackville had no clue what was happening until they saw, an 18-acre clearcut and people started to ask what is happening here? After working on hundreds of industrial developments across western Canada this was one of worst examples of citizen engagement in a small town I have ever seen. It’s the town’s public engagement processes I am concerned with, not the industry. When you are an engineer consulting firm you do not pick and choose who you work for, you work for all types of industries. The town did the citizens a huge disservice and the backlash they are getting is well deserved.

  7. Bonnie says:

    There is usually no point to trying to talk facts and analysis to people who are enjoying a sense of moral superiority in their own ignorance, but I’ll give try. Hydro-fracking is a common engineering practice that environmental engineers use remediated contaminated sites when contaminants are bound to heavy soils. Water well drillers will use it to increase the flow rate of water wells. It’s used in mining as well. It’s used in numerous industries. It is a necessary engineering tool for many types projects. Look up hydrofracking for remediation.

    • Wrayton says:

      Wow Bonnie, that’s a pretty harsh response. I’m surprised someone who hopes to represent us all as mayor is so quick to get in a flame war with a constituent. I’m not sure I can support that kind of behaviour in a mayor. Would you?

      • Susan says:

        She’s just what we need. She speaks in facts and they were being rude. We have bigger issues than hydro-fracing that the town banned in 2012 anyway. It is a moot point to even talk about it. Everything else she wants to achieve is bang on.

  8. Tim Reiffenstein says:

    Ignorance? Really, Bonnie? We know (as in, that is the scientific consensus) that the industry vastly understated the amount of methane that escapes into the atmosphere from fracked wells. And how pernicious, if shorter-lived, a GHG is methane? Very. And what about the chemicals that are shot down into the earth along w sand, etc.? We can’t even learn what these are because the industry claims this info as proprietary. Sounds like a good case for the precautionary principle, as most NBers agreed when they turfed-out the Alward government.

    • Kata List Productions says:

      Tim would probably instruct his students to protest fracking and pipelines and oil sands and energy projects that aren’t solar panels and windfarms … but Tim would never mention a peep to his students about how wrong it is that so much Saudi oil flows into New Brunswick.

      • Susan says:

        I agree and we take more oil from Saudi Arabia every year. From a Country with no human rights, no women’s rights and no environmental rights.

    • Bonnie says:

      If you read my article in 2012 than you would have known that all chemicals are all pretty much food and household grade now. I posted a list of ones used and there are only about a dozen.They are only applied at 0.1%. There is nothing proprietary about them at all. Oil and gas is regulated by the province it has absolutely anything to do with municipal government. Plus, why would you assume I am for us against any industry? I am for the proper facts and information getting to the public so they can make wise decisions. I clearly said this industry is up to the people. If people don’t want it they need to speak to their MLA’s this has nothing with our municipal government the provincial government issues the licenses for this industry.

    • Bonnie says:

      On another note here are all the the additives.Soooo proprietary. Not!

      -Calcium chloride (food preservative)
      -Xamthagum polymer (food additive used in gluten free baking)
      -Sodium bicarbonate (common baking soda)
      -Polyamide fatty acid blend (fatty acid blend similar to linseed oil)
      -Carboxymethyl cellulous (food thickener used in ice cream, also used in toothpaste)
      -Bentonite (a fine clay soil used also used in kitty litter)
      -Barite (used in barium drinks for X-rays of the digestive tract )
      Base oils (environmentally sensitive synthetic oil)
      -Calcium hydroxide (lime used in lawn fertilizer and cement)
      -Sodium Hydroxide (used food curing)

      • Wrayton says:

        Just because something is safe as a food additive doesn’t make it safe to drink. Salt being an easy example.

      • Bonnie says:

        The water is not left in the ground all the water is pumped back out of the steel and concrete well casements and then taken to treatment facilities. So why would any have to drink it? That makes no sense. These casings to protect the groundwater are 4 feet of steel and concrete and pressured tested before operations to ensure they don’t leak.

  9. Karen says:

    In reading your platform I see no mention of any other areas except Dorchester and Sackville. Living in neither of these communities can you explain what you are going to do if elected as mayor for the other communities now becoming a part of Tantramar. Midgic, Middle Sackville, Westcok, Point de Bute, Jolicure etc ?

    • Bonnie says:

      Thanks Karen, I am contacting the reps from these areas so I can get out to present to them. I will be in Baie very soon. I will post the date. I am speaking with other ward candidates as well. On my “Bonnie Swift for Mayor” Facebook page. I will be providing those dates. What ward are you in?

  10. Norman Cole says:

    I am very pleased to see that a third person has taken up the challenge to run for mayor this is important to all the communities involved.Im afraid for years that a lot of these issues have not been handled on a consistent basis and a lot of issues seem to be based on who wants what.One that really needs more input is our volunteer fire fighters jumping out of bed at 3 or 4 am m/f to respond to life saving calls be respected and treated in a professionally manner with respect .Thank you for your service

    • Bonnie says:

      I have been speaking to several firefighters and I will be fighting for them. They know I have their backs.I will be taking up this issue up. Don’t you worry they are one of my top priorities. They will not be ignored by me.

Leave a Reply