My husband and I have been farming in Kings County for 40 years. We have always advocated for local food production and processing. Our farm was certified organic for several years, and we have since put it into the NB Community Land Trust so that the fields and forest will continued to be treated with respect in perpetuity. I was delighted when I went to the first Foods of the Fundy Valley dinner several years ago. It was confirmation that there is a real grassroots movement here for self-reliance in food production! There is no need for us to send 93% of our food dollars out of the Province. One of the things that drew me to the Green Party in the first place is the strong support for local and sustainable agriculture in the policy manual. Green MPs would make sure that government would be an ally, not a barrier, to local food production and processing. I wholeheartedly support the Buy Local initiative. Local processing is also very important, and it's essential to develop regulations geared to the operation. Small abattoirs serving a local market need different food safety rules than a slaughterhouse shipping all over the country. The Green Party supports family farmers as environmental stewards and as efficient producers of nutritious food.
The jobs situation in Albert County and NB as a whole is one of the most important issues a new government will have to tackle. We need, as a country, to stop subsidizing the fossil fuel industry with billions of dollars of taxpayers' money. There are more jobs in green tech now in Canada than there are in the Tar Sands. There is lots of opportunity for green jobs here: much of our current building stock needs to be retrofitted; new buildings need to be built with energy conservation as the highest priority; the making-do culture of rural New Brunswick can lead to lots of innovative thinking about saving energy instead of endangering our air and water by blasting and digging it out of the ground.
I ran a small business in Sussex for 25 years, and I know the value of entrepreneurship in job creation: 70% of private sector jobs are in small business and sole proprietorships in Canada. Also, multinationals and large corporations take their money out of Canada, while small businesses circulate our money in the communities we work in. Albert County is full of people, a lot of them young people, with the intelligence, energy, and initiative to build businesses, from small scale agriculture to start- up technology firms. Instead of subsidizing the fossil fuel industries of the past, the government must support innovation and entrepreneurial skills in the jobs of the future. We need MPs who have the vision to see those possibilities, who will support the changes that need to happen to build a thriving community instead of expecting people just to move out west for work. Many of our jobs here are seasonal, and that needs to be taken into account by those setting EI policy.
Stephanie Coburn, Green Party candidate, Fundy Royal