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Summer 2016 Newsletter 
Bulletin du Ètè de 2016

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Report from Your MLA

by David Coon

On July 8, the Liberals tabled a discussion paper entitled Strengthening New Brunswick’s Democracy and announced they wanted the Legislature to establish a Select Committee on Democratic Reform. The irony was delicious. Since Christmas, the seat of our democracy had barely had the chance to warm up. Inexplicably, our sitting days were severely cut back and important financial oversight committees had not been permitted to meet. Against this democratic deficit, the members of the Legislature were being asked to form a Select Committee to consult the public on how to improve our democracy.

The Official Opposition refused to play ball and would not provide committee members. I said I would be a member of the committee, as I believe electoral reform is essential to making progress in New Brunswick. However, if the Tories would not join, there was no point in me participating in a Select Committee that was not representative of our provincial parliament. 

For reasons only know to the Liberal’s back room, the motion to establish the Select Committee on Democratic Reform was botched. I had agreed to second the motion, but the Liberals waited until the very last day of the sitting before the summer break to table it in the House. Without prior notice of the motion, the rules required all parties in the House to give permission for it to be considered. The Tories said no. We have a discussion paper on democratic reform on which to consult New Brunswickers, but no Legislative committee to do so.

This fiasco is symptomatic of what’s wrong with the seat of our democracy. For years, Liberals and Tory governments have treated the Legislature as a mere formality to implementing their agendas, rather than the Legislative branch of government. In this case, the Liberals had committed in their election platform to “investigate means to improve participation in democracy, such as preferential ballots and on-line voting.” However, there was no prior discussion about how to investigate this with the opposition parties. Like so much else, it was sprung on the Legislature. Here are the terms of reference, like ‘em or lump ‘em, government holds the majority of seats in the Legislature.

There-in lies the problem. We have multiple parties, but functionally we have a two party parliament with the current first-past-the-post system. Twenty-five percent of New Brunswick voters cast ballots for parties other than the Liberals and Tories, but the only seat not held by those parties is mine. The bulk of the votes cast for other parties just went into the garbage can. The voices of those voters are not represented in our assembly of representatives. While we are all supposed to be equal before the law, our votes are not. This fundamental unfairness could be rectified by replacing the first-past-the-post system with one based on proportional representation. We have been down this road before. 

Bernard Lord established a Commission on Legislative Democracy in 2004 to examine how to strengthen our democracy. It recommended a mixed-member proportional system. It also made recommendations on how to enhance the role of MLAs and the Legislature, and how to give New Brunswickers a stronger voice in the decisions of government and the Legislature. Sadly, most of the Commission’s recommendations were never implemented, though they are discussed in detail in political scientist Willian Cross’s 2007 book entitled, Democratic Reform in New Brunswick. 

We have an assembly of representatives that does not represent the views of large numbers of New Brunswickers. A system of proportional representation where the percentage vote a party receives is reflected in the number of seats it holds in that assembly would be one step toward returning democracy to the seat of our democracy – the Legislative Assembly. 

Majority government would become less common, forcing parties to collaborate with each other in the Legislature. In the current system, the intensity of partisanship is a barrier to the kind of collaboration New Brunswickers want. There would be a greater diversity of parties in the House, more accurately reflecting the choices of the electorate. This would end the tyranny of the two-party system, where to form government you just have to bide your time until voters turf the other guys out and it’s your turn to run things again.

We need a system of proportional representation to strengthen our democracy. Without it, our province will continue to drift aimlessly, blown this way and that way as power shifts from Liberals to Tories, and back again.

Version en Français ici

On July 17th, David Coon hosted a town hall meeting at Stepping Stones Seniors Centre. He was joined by City Councillors: Kate Rogers, Greg Ericson, and John MacDermid. Here's a brief video summarizing the event.
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Le 17 juillet, David Coon a organisé une réunion publique au centre Stepping Stones. Il était accompagné par les Conseillers/Conseillères Municipaux : Kate Rogers, Greg Ericson, and John MacDermid. Voici un petit sommaire de cet événement par vidéo.

Community Resource Infographics


Since being elected in September 2014, more than 300 people have visited David Coon MLA for Fredericton South, at his Constituency Office on King Street seeking help with housing, employment, health and income. Many people are not aware of the resources available through community agencies and organisations.
With that in mind, Katie Beers, who interned at the Constituency Office, developed a series of community resource infographics to let people know what services exist in Fredericton. Read More...
The Work of David Coon's Seniors Round Table
 
In 2014, shortly after beginning his first term as the Representative of Fredericton South, David Coon gathered together a number of seniors living in his riding and established a Seniors Round Table to advise him on issues concerning seniors. In turn, David keeps them informed about changes proposed in the Legislature on issues of particular concern to seniors, such as pensions, extramural health care, and nursing homes. Read More...

Pharmacists in NB: Bring Your MLA to a Pharmacy Day

On May 30th, David Coon, MLA for Fredericton South and Leader of the Green Party of New Brunswick participated in Bring your MLA to a Pharmacy Day, hosted by the New Brunswick Pharmacists Association.
David stepped into the Ross Guardian Pharmacy on Rookwood Avenue that afternoon and was met by Brian Greenfield, owner and lead pharmacist at all three Ross Guardian Drug Stores in Fredericton South. Read More...
Our Neighbours
In the coming months, I want to introduce you to some of our neighbours. You’ll find our series on our website starting with this one profiling members of our LGBTQ community and continuing with distinct communities each season. Click on each photo for more. Photos courtesty of: Kelly Baker Photography
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Dans les mois à suivre, j’aimerais vous présenter à certains de nos voisins, voisines. Vous retrouverez la série de Profiles sur le site web, commençant avec celle-ci. La série changera avec les saisons. Photos courtoisie de : Kelly Baker Photography
We live in a richly diverse community, but we sometimes don’t see the unique and beautiful individuals and families who live in Fredericton South. Many members of our community are overlooked, some are invisible, and sometimes they are Othered. In the coming months, I want to introduce you to some of our neighbours. They are us. You’ll find our Profiles series on our website starting with this one profiling members of our LGBTQ community and continuing with distinct communities each season.
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Nous avons une communauté riche et diverse, mais nous oublions de remarquer et d’apprécier les beaux individus et leurs magnifiques familles qui habitent ici, dans la région de Fredericton-sud. Plusieurs membre de notre communauté sont délaissés, certains invisible, certains sont stigmatisés en tant que « l’Autre ». Dans les mois à suivre, j’aimerais vous présenter à certains de nos voisins, voisines. Ils et elles, sont des nôtres. Vous retrouverez la série de Profiles sur le site web, commençant avec celle-ci. La série changera avec les saisons.

Funding
Canada’s 150th Grants of up to $15,000 for community building projects are available by application through the Fredericton Community Foundation.  Applications will be accepted through to February 1, 2017. For more on Canada’s 150th Grants click here.
 Les bourses communautaires d’une valeur jusqu'à 15 000$ pour le 150e anniversaire du Canada  qui ciblent la mobilisation de projets de construction locaux sont disponibles par demande à travers la fondation communautaire de FrederictonLes applications seront acceptées jusqu’au 1er février 2017.Pour des renseignements supplémentaires, visitez (disponible seulment en anglais)
 
Canada’s Registered Disability Savings Plan (RDSP) became available in 2008, but not many people seem to be aware of it. Out of 500,000 eligible Canadians, only 78,000 have opened an account. This can be a valuable tool for ensuring future financial security for people with disabilities. To find out more
click here.
Le régime enregistré d’épargne-invalidité (REEI) est devenu  disponible depuis 2008, mais très peu de citoyens semblent être au courant. Sur 500.000 Canadiens admissibles, seulement 78.000 ont ouvert un compte. Cela peut être un outil précieux pour assurer la sécurité financière future pour les personnes handicapées. Pour des renseignements supplémentaires, visitez  
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Copyright © 2016 David Coon, MLA, All rights reserved.


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