Heading towards election day, the Fredericton riding is a three-horse race.
Latest polls show a dead heat between the Liberal incumbent, Jenica Atwin, and Conservative challenger, Andrea Johnson. Both are polling at 34% of the vote.
With Atwin leaving the Green Party to join the Liberals in June, newcomer Nicole O’Byrne received the nomination to represent the Greens in Fredericton. She is currently polling at 23% and is within striking distance of Atwin and Johnson.
O’Byrne is a professor of law at UNB and has been involved with the Green Party for many years. Notably, she was part of David Coon’s successful 2014 campaign.
“There is a history of voting Green in Fredericton. We have a great team with a ton of experience and they know what it takes to win,” O’Byrne explained.
A main focus of her teaching is on Canadian Federalism which deals with the legal relationships between the provinces and the federal government.
“My job as a professor and educator is to introduce people to certain issues and get them thinking critically about them,” said O’Byrne. She believes that this experience makes her uniquely positioned to work in parliament.
Her educational background and experience as a professor have fostered an obvious passion for higher education.
“There is really no better investment than in young people’s education,” says O’Byrne.
She notes that many of her students have desired to work in nonprofit organizations or other public works organizations but the massive student debt they incur forces them into undesirable jobs.
O’Byrne notes that the opportunity cost of attending university can be astronomical for some individuals and may bar them from pursuing their dream careers.
University students often have concerns about the state of postsecondary education and their prospects of obtaining a home at some point after graduation.
All three contending parties have radically different plans for education and housing. Their positions are outlined below.
The Liberal Party proposes to eliminate all interest on student loans. In addition, they will pause all repayment for new graduates until they earn at least $50,000 annually.
The Conservative Party proposes a post-school jobs program for international students to help them remain in Canada after graduation.
The Green Party believes in universal post-secondary education. The party would work to abolish tuition and cancel all federally held student debt.
The Liberal Party will ask big banks and insurance companies to pay more in order to invest $72 billion in increasing new home supply. They will introduce legislation recognizing the right of Canadians to access adequate housing.
The Conservative Party will tackle housing by investing in building 1 million new homes. They will create blockades to foreign home ownership to reduce prices. Finally, they will invest in mental health and drug treatment programs to reduce homelessness.
The Green Party recognizes adequate housing as a human right and will declare housing affordability and homelessness a national emergency. They will protect the stock of existing affordable housing by funding its purchase by non-profit organizations. In addition, they will invest specifically in more supply of affordable housing.
Students are strongly encouraged to vote on September 20, 2021.