“Northern New Brunswick is in a position to benefit from economic development in green energy but first the proper policy has to be put in place.” – David Coon
That was one message David Coon, leader of the Green party and MLA for Fredericton South, brought to people from the Chaleur region and beyond at a conversation held at the Coffee Stain in Bathurst Feb. 13 about his new Green Jobs Bill. About 20 people attended from all over New Brunswick including the Chaleur region, the Acadian peninsula, Sussex and Saint-Louis-de-Kent.
He said the bill would“create jobs, that would be good for New Brunswick, be good for the environment and that will strengthen local economies around the province” while helping to combat climate change.
Coon said the bill would help places like the Chaleur region and northern New Brunswick which have resources for bioenergy already available to them. “We’ve got forests, farms, fisheries – all of which provide materials to manufacture biogas, biofuels, green diesel … biomass,” he said. “We’ve got the expertise, we’ve got the knowledge, we’ve got the trained people, yet these opportunities are not being seized because the government is still kind of stuck in thinking about the old economy.”
He said instead of waiting for industry companies to come to the province to invest, the government should be building on what it already has available such as natural resources.
The stop in Bathurst was the first of a four-stop provincial tour.
Coon said the purpose of the tour is to inform people about the bill to get some supporters in hopes the government sees there’s interest to have the bill pass “in some form”
As part of the bill, a new crown corporation would be established called Renew New Brunswick which will develop strategies to meet energy use targets outlined in the bill.Coon said the corporation would have monies to provide incentives and finical aid for developments such as green building, renewable energy, energy efficiency and clean technology. Ultimately it would all help to help reach renewable energy efficiency in the province.
Coon said as it stands New Brunswick has no economic development policy, no energy policy or climate action strategy.
“We’re operating in a vacuum and my bill was an attempt through legislation to suggest some of the elements that would lead to action directly and also suggest some sort of policy measures that we should be adopting,”he said.
Coon said he’s hoping the Liberal and Conservative parties take a look at the bill and make amendments “so that they’re comfortable with the details and support some version”of the bill being adopted.
“We need to be thinking about building a new economy based on what’s already here, in ways that don’t make greenhouse gas emissions, that help make the transformation away from complete dependence on fossil fuels while creating work and business opportunities in local communities all over the province.”
An example Coon gave for how the bill might work would be a program to help people insulate their homes – it would save the home owner money, would create work and would also help the environment by reducing the carbon footprint.
The second reading of the Green Jobs bill is expected to take place at the legislature on April 7. If the second reading goes through, the bill will go to committee for examination and to have amendments made before a third reading where it could be passed.
Catherine Doucet of Bathurst was one of the local people who attended the talk to learn more about the bill because of her own personal concerns.
“It started with the change in climate and I’m really concerned with that particular issue and I see, hopefully, this province moving forward with greener initiatives,”she said.“I see David Coon … presenting this bill as a favourable direction the province could take.”
Doucet said the message Coon brought was one of green technology and moving away from non-renewable resource development to a focus on greener energy.
“He sees this province lagging behind the rest of the world and I don’t want to be behind the rest of the would when it comes to change,” she said. “I see New Brunswick as able to stand up and be part of this green movement and that’s what I’m hoping for.”
After learning more about the bill and seeing the turnout at the talk with Coon, Doucet said she’s a supporter and hopes the bill goes through.