St. Louis de Kent – About 50 Green Party supporters gathered in the St. Louis Aqua Centre Thursday, July 7, to put to the test their sense of a surge in Green Party support in Kent County by nominating 26-year old Rogersville organic farmer and social justice advocate Rebeka Frazer-Chiasson to be their standard bearer in Kent North.
That sense of a green tide rising in Kent County hasn’t escaped the notice of Green Party leader David Coon who was in St. Louis for Frazer-Chiasson’s nomination. His pledge to “break the stranglehold big corporations like Irving have on New Brunswick” was received with enthusiastic applause.
In his first campaign as Green leader, Coon also spoke of the “fear so many people feel at the domination of New Brunswick” by the corporate sector. Pulling no punches, he declared voters were “sick and tired of the lies” from successive Conservative and Liberal governments and want to “elect people who will tell the truth.”
“The Green Party’s job,” he said, “is to ensure that people are heard.”
Also highlighted at the Green event were New Brunswick food producers. Receiving much attention were a pair of food tables featuring local, organic vegetables, breads, dairy products and apple juice that underscored the Green Party’s commitment to self-reliance and support for local producers.
Frazer-Chiasson, a volunteer with the Community Inclusion Network and an anti-shale gas activist, talked about the need for people to defend their land collectively. Referring to the fact that pollution from shale gas wells travels long distances, Frazer-Chiasson pointed out that “it doesn’t matter what you do to protect your land and water, if somebody is fracking 10 kilometres away.”
Recalling last year’s demonstrations on Highways 116, 126, and 134, Frazer-Chiasson reminded her supporters that “as frustrating as that time was, it was also a powerful and beautiful time” that brought Aboriginals, Francophones and Anglophones together in common cause. “This election is about people coming together to take care of our land.”
Frazer-Chiasson sees the Green Party making headway politically because “people are finding it difficult to express themselves” politically through the other parties. “We need Greens on the ballot to express in government what we’ve been saying here for the last three years,” she told her supporters.
While Frazer-Chiasson is a first time candidate, she appears to be tapping into local support. She was nominated by Leo Goguen, a Rogersville logger well-known for his work with the Wood Marketing Board of Southeastern New Brunswick. Chairing the meeting was high-profile Notre Environnement, Notre Choix anti-shale gas activist Nicole Richard from St. Louis. On hand with Coon to welcome Frazer-Chiasson to the Green team were Kent South Green candidate Tina Beers and Stephanie Matthews, who his running in Shediac.
Of course, to become the alternative to the Conservative-Liberal political hegemony in New Brunswick, the Green Party must overtake the NDP, and that political fact of life hasn’t escaped Richard. She took NDP leader Dominic Cardy to task for his criticisms of shale gas protesters who used peaceful, non-violent resistance to delay shale gas development here. Protesters say that without peaceful civil disobedience, shale gas wells would already have been drilled in Kent County. Richard also blasted the Liberals for inviting the shale gas companies here in the first place.
Cardy is banking on his recent call for a legislated ban on shale gas to attract protesters. As well, the NDP here has nominated St. Charles Local Service District chair Allan Marsh, also a prominent shale gas protester.
While there is also deep suspicion of the Liberals in anti-shale gas ranks, Liberal incumbent Bertrand LeBlanc is more difficult to attack on the issue. His record of opposition to shale gas dates to the earliest days of the Conservative government and pre-dates the Liberal Party’s move to support a moratorium.
Conservative candidate Nancy Blanchard is viewed as a non-factor in this race. Although representing the Conservative ‘brand,’ a party fully committed to the shale gas industry, Blanchard has raised puzzled eyebrows by voicing support for sustainable development.
The Kent North Greens are doing things a little differently. Dispensing with more traditional longer speeches that put the derriere to the test, the business of nominating Frazer-Chiasson was quickly disposed of by a unanimous vote and much applause. Thereupon, an animated performance by Acadian story-teller Kevin Arseneau enabled an upbeat group of Greens to laugh up enough of an appetite to do the food tables justice. The remainder of the evening was devoted to talking with local candidate Frazer-Chiasson, party leader David Coon, and each other.
Dallas McQuarrie writes for the NB Media Co-op.