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N.B. party platforms as told by their leaders

The Brunswickan interviewed the leaders of New Brunswick’s five main political parties to get the rundown on their platforms for the 2014 general election. Advanced polls are this week in the Student Union Building.

David Alward, Progressive Conservative

Q. What is the PC plan for the cost of tuition and funding for students?

A. We’re the first government in New Brunswick history to bring forward a multi-year budgeting process between government and universities. So what that will allow is universities to know over the next couple of years what money they have from government to be able to plan … Part of that that we’ve required is to ensure that the university also provides students with multi tuition agreements as well so that students can know what to expect for tuition going forward.

Q. How does your party plan to address youth unemployment and underemployment in the province?

A. As a government we are focused on growing a strong economy. That is based on developing our natural resources in a safe, responsible way; natural gas, oil, mining and forestry … Now it’s two other things that we’re doing very strategically. One is the ‘One Job Pledge.’ That program guarantees the recent graduate financial support of up to $10 an hour for a year in a permanent job … We’re investing significantly in innovation and in the start-up community … and another area would be the significant amount of work we’re doing around apprenticeship.

Q. How does the PC view women’s reproductive rights and access to abortion?

A. We’ve been very clear as a government … in New Brunswick we provide public access to medically necessary abortions. We will continue to provide that public access.

Q. How are mental health services included in your platform?

A. One is better access to primary care, making sure that when someone needs care that they’ve got that access. So we’ve already started down that road in terms of community health clinics … We’ve already started forward on a number of recommendations  … to improve better access to mental health services. We are working with the university community, the community college community, so that we can earlier diagnose and earlier intervene to be able to work with young New Brunswickers.

Q. What stance does your party take on shale gas?

A. We support the responsible and safe development of shale gas in New Brunswick.

Q. How do you plan to tackle New Brunswick’s debt and deficit?

A. We have a plan that’s already open, transparent [and] accountable identified that we are following that will be completed by 2017. Growing jobs … will give government the revenue that we need to be able to invest in people and pay down the debt that we have to pay down. The money that would come from royalties from shale gas will allow us to pay down debt and invest in the future of New Brunswick at the same time.

 

David Coon, Green Party

Q. What is the Green Party’s plan for the cost of tuition and funding for students?

A. The party’s long-term goal is to adopt the European model of no tuition for post-secondary education, eliminating tuition from post-secondary education … In the short-term, the cost of tuition is really all about the amount of money that the government is able to provide to universities and how that gets used by the universities.

Q. How does your party plan to address youth unemployment and underemployment in the province?

A. We would focus on building our local economy and strengthening our local economy so that more of what we need is produced here in New Brunswick and keep the money we spend in New Brunswick to create jobs here. And to really focus on commercializing the green technologies and processes that are being developed right now.

Q. How does the Green Party view women’s reproductive rights and access to abortion?

A. We would eliminate the regulation that requires women to take the permission of two doctors to access abortion services … But we’d go beyond that and also eliminate the regulation that requires abortion services to be provided in hospitals.

Q. How are mental health services included in your platform?

A. In our platform we said it’s absolutely essential that a greater proportion of the department of health’s budget be devoted to mental health services.

Q. What stance does your party take on shale gas?

A. Why on earth would you ever permit shale gas fracking in New Brunswick? It doesn’t make any sense. There’s plenty of evidence that illustrates the harm that it does to people’s health, to people’s water supply, the air quality and the nature of the rural communities too.

Q. How do you plan to tackle New Brunswick’s debt and deficit?

A. We need to increase our revenue and we’re proposing a number of ways to do that. The biggest source of revenue we’re proposing is instead of raising the HST … we would put a tax on pollution. We would raise a similar amount of money and in the tax specifically would be on the amount of carbon imported into New Brunswick, into the economy at the level of the industries that are doing so.

 

Kris Austin, People’s Alliance

Q. What is the People’s Alliance’s plan for the cost of tuition and funding for students?

A. The People’s Alliance has in our platform a four per cent increase over four years for universities basically to lower the tuition rates. We also believe in removing the parental contribution for student loans.

Q. How does your party plan to address youth unemployment and underemployment in the province?

A. We believe what needs to happen is we have to scale back the corporate subsidies that we give to large corporate interests every year … If we scale those back, reinvest it in small- and medium-sized businesses and then create some incentives for entrepreneurs to get the ball rolling, we feel it can be more effective for young people to get business going.

Q. How does the People’s Alliance view women’s reproductive rights and access to abortion?

A. I believe that abortions should only be funded by the taxpayers when they are medically necessary. I do not believe we should be funding from taxpayers’ money on-demand abortions.

Q. How are mental health services included in your platform?

A. We believe that we have to give resources to the department of health for mental health.

Q. What stance does your party take on shale gas?

A. We believe that shale gas may have some economic benefit for the province however we’re not quite convinced that the economic benefit outweighs the environmental risk when it comes to that industry. So as a party we are calling for a referendum on shale gas and allow the people of New Brunswick to decide for themselves.

Q. How do you plan to tackle New Brunswick’s debt and deficit?

A. Our focus is to scale back the corporate subsidies. We also have in our plan to merge the two health authorities which would save millions of dollars every year. We have to cut upper management within the bureaucracy in New Brunswick.

 

Dominic Cardy, NDP

Q. What is the NDP plan for the cost of tuition and funding for students?

A. We’ve got a really strong package of reforms to try to help students out, especially with tuition and the debt load. We’re announcing a “free in eight” program. So what we’d like to see instead is after eight years if you’re staying in New Brunswick, we’ll actually help make sure that we’re paying off the loans with you.

Q. How does your party plan to address youth unemployment and underemployment in the province?

A. We’re trying to make it as easy as possible for people coming out of school or even if they’re still in school to start up their own businesses if they want to. Getting rid of the small business tax … We need the businesses that are successful to pay taxes, but let’s make it easier at the outset for new business to get started. We’re also going to create a new jobs tax credit so any employer that hires anyone … and create a new job they get a tax credit so they get a nice reduction on their following year taxes.

Q. How does the NDP view women’s reproductive rights and access to abortion?

A. The NDP heath minister, the first day that he or she is in their office, will repeal regulation 84-20.

Q. How are mental health services included in your platform?

A. You’ll see in our platform our commitment there. So it’s something that if providing healthcare for students, which of course we are and should be, then the mental health component has to be there. So there needs to be those services available not just on campuses but in high schools and even the lower level schools as well.

Q. What stance does your party take on shale gas?

A. We don’t think we should do anything that’s not going to make us money and be safe. We don’t see it at this point that the price is right and we don’t see that the technology has been proven to be safe.

Q. How do you plan to tackle New Brunswick’s debt and deficit?

A. Right now it’s after health, education and social development, interest payments on the debt are the biggest thing that we spend money on. So we’ve got to try and start reducing that as quickly as we can. Let’s invest money in things that are going to generate a return for the province not just in terms of cash but in better educated, healthier, happier workforce, happier population and stop doing the other stuff. We also have a plan to start combatting the debt right away with an income trust on the future earnings of NB Liquor.

 

Brian Gallant, Liberal Party

Q. What is the Liberal Party’s plan for the cost of tuition and funding for students?

A. We’ve made it very clear that a Liberal government would eliminate the parental and spousal contribution which is now inserted into the calculation of who can get a loan and grant. We also are committed to providing student loan relief to new parents as well. And we’re also committed to having new financial assistance to those with the greatest financial need.

Q. How does your party plan to address youth unemployment and underemployment in the province?

A. We believe that education, training and literacy should be a big part of our diversified plan to grow the economy. We also want to create specifically a youth employment fund which would allow for 1500 placements for New Brunswickers between the age of 18 to 29.

Q. How does the Liberal Party view women’s reproductive rights and access to abortion?

A. We’ve made it very clear that we think the province of New Brunswick is not respecting a woman’s right to choose. We’ve made it very clear that a Liberal government would act swiftly to find all barriers to a woman’s right to choose and we would eliminate them.

Q. How are mental health services included in your platform?

A. One thing that is very clear to us is that we have to do a lot better when it comes to supporting people and families who are struggling with mental health issues … We have to have an overall strategy to address this and do much better than what we’ve been doing in the past.

Q. What stance does your party take on shale gas?

A. The Liberal Party’s position on shale gas is a moratorium until we fully understand the risks to our water, to the environment and to our health.

Q. How do you plan to tackle New Brunswick’s debt and deficit?

A. We believe we need a balanced approach. We need to stimulate the economy in the short term and we need to find efficiencies within government and the services that we provide. We have a plan over six years to balance the books. In our first budget we have measures such as taxing the one per cent richest New Brunswickers, reversing the tax break to large corporations.

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