Dominic Cardy says he’s not interested in being the leader of a party that doesn’t have a shot at winning any elections.
With that in mind, Cardy, the province’s New Democratic Party leader since 2011, said he’s hoping New Brunswick voters take the time to look over his party’s platform between now and the election on Sept. 22.
What they’ll find, he told a Miramichi Chamber of Commerce audience on Wednesday June 25, is a more robust, common sense vision than what previous iterations of the provincial NDP put forth.
“It’s not really a traditional thing for the NDP to be making an effort to reach out to chambers of commerce, so that’s a message that I’m here to deliver – the NDP has changed, our party is open for business,” Cardy said.
The session, held at the Mirawood Cafe, was part of the chamber’s ongoing political leadership series. Cardy was the fourth leader of New Brunswick’s five main political parties to address the chamber over the past few weeks.
Liberal Leader Brian Gallant, Green Party Leader David Coon and People’s Alliance Leader Kris Austin have already made appearances. Premier David Alward will touch on the Progressive Conservative Party’s platform heading into the Sept. 22 election on July 4. Alward will speak at the Rodd Miramichi River Hotel beginning at 12 p.m.
Cardy said that one of the distinguishing traits of the traditional NDP is that it was the only party made up of people who “didn’t think that winning elections was important.”
Under his watch, Cardy said that time has passed. He said the New Brunswick NDP’s approach is one that leans a little more to the centre than to the left.
“The NDP was, too often, been a party that was unrealistic in its platforms,” he said. “It was a party that would develop ideas that had no costs attached to them and weren’t really being written down with any thought of them ever being implemented.”
Since taking over as leader three years ago, Cardy says he’s helped eliminate more than $300,000 of party debt and would be just as aggressive in attacking New Brunswick’s ballooning deficit situation.
If elected, he said he would also have his sights set on eliminating the small business tax while also creating measures that would deliver more decision-making powers to municipalities while also ensuring politics doesn’t interfere in the growth of independent businesses.
He said he believes New Brunswick’s historic rotation of either a Tory or a Liberal government isn’t working and, especially as it relates to economic development and fiscal restraint, he said the current system is broken and in need of repairs.
“We have a deficit that is growing without any apparent control, a government that appears to have lost any sense of what it is supposed to do and businesses whose only way of succeeding is to make friends with people in a political party,” Cardy said. “So much of the economy is dictated by government handouts and programs – this doesn’t make any sense.”
Too often, he said, the success of a business is based on what kind of connections that business has within government.
He said no matter which business has the best idea, Cardy said he’s seen evidence that it’s typically the business that is on the right side of the government of the day that usually ends up earning that support.
With that in mind, Cardy noted a key component of the NDP platform would see the provincial Department of Economic Development eliminated. He said an NDP government would ensure that decisions about economic development would take place on a local level instead of out of an office in Fredericton.
“They’re not entrepreneurs, they’re bureaucrats and we let them make decisions about business investments and which companies will succeed and which will fail,” Cardy said. “That’s not the way to run a modern economy – not just because it’s wrong but because it doesn’t work.”
He said some of the money saved by scrapping the economic development department could be reinvested into areas such as boosting the province’s lagging literacy rates.
Cardy also pledged an independent environmental agency that would scientifically review industry development plans, in an attempt to eliminate any political influence on analysis and establishing what he called a “new jobs tax credit” which any business would qualify for if it created any new jobs.
He said he would also outlaw the ability of MLAs to have a hand in hiring or firing anybody outside of their own offices and creating a culture in the public service that allows civil servants to do their jobs and make suggestions without fear of reprisals.