Gallant’s Uninspiring Throne Speech

Commentary in the Telegraph-Journal by Jennifer McKenzie, Leader of the New Brunswick NDP

The Liberal Government delivered a singularly uninspired and unfocused Speech from the Throne last week at the first sitting of the Legislature, in the final session of their mandate. The lack of applause from anyone but the Liberals themselves was deafening.

Liberals cite three priorities for the coming year as being the economy, health care and education, which they say are the three main priorities of New Brunswickers. Even if so, their record in all three areas is nothing to crow about.

Tens of millions of dollars have been given in the name of creating dubious short term or non-existent jobs at corporations like Sears and TD Bank, the latter of whom recorded a $2.4 billion profit in the first quarter of this year. Any growth – which they like to give as a compound rate over three years to make it seem inflated – is as a result of factors well outside of their control, like federal infrastructure spending (and why are there so many Nova Scotia and Quebec work crews on our roads?) or a strong U.S. economy and U.S. tourists fleeing to Canada from Trump.

On health care, they fare far worse. Gallant capitulated into a deal with his federal counterparts that does not account for the fact that we are the oldest and fastest-aging province in Canada. This means that our health care costs will rise faster than anyone else’s, without a corresponding increase in our health care transfer funding line. Each year the province will be squeezed tighter and tighter on the largest line item in the province’s budget. No wonder they want to hide behind handing over the management of home nursing to Medavie, a private company. Things are going to get progressively worse in coming years and Gallant’s Liberals wish to have their backsides well-covered.

In education, high illiteracy rates continue to dominate the headlines and post secondary enrolment rates continue to decline.

Now let’s get to the unmet promises that got them elected. In the last election, Gallant promised that every New Brunswicker would have a family doctor by 2018. Where are we on that file? There are two months left until 2018 and we get vague promises of working with the Medical Society to get more family doctors in place?

Gallant also promised to get the property tax system sorted out. Well, that went well didn’t it? Cities like Saint John are left holding the bag and being forced into austerity-style cuts. Who gets hurt by austerity? The poor, the vulnerable, the aged.

It is indeed ironic that anti-poverty initiatives are underway in Saint John while the Liberal government has so badly mismanaged, and continues to mismanage, the property tax file. As Mayor Don Darling and his council so clearly pointed out in their motion, the tax system is broken. Just the taxes alone missed on the Canaport LNG property – where the province hired an American pro-industry firm to do the property value assessment – could have wiped out food bank use in Saint John and beyond every year from now on.

Two measures in the throne speech deserve support: amendments to labour laws to permit binding arbitration to settle a first contract and the intention to bring in amendments to occupational health and safety laws, which make violence in the workplace an occupational hazard. These are both long-overdue changes. They are but the tip of the iceberg in terms of changes needed to protect workers in this province, issues that will be addressed head-on by the NDP in the coming election.

It is extremely difficult to watch a government pretend that it has progressive intentions at the very last minute – when its actions to date clearly show that it does not. The tragedy is that progressive policies are indeed the ones that can save this province, attract and keep youth here, and lead us into prosperity. But they have to be part of a comprehensive and cohesive plan not a scattergun, last-minute plan to get re-elected.

Today there is an obvious need for a real alternative to the two-party system in New Brunswick and to put an end to the complacency and entitlement we see in our elected officials. To break the destructive pattern, New Brunswick must turn to a party that believes in good government and a strong public sector, and that doesn’t look to the private sector to run government. I intend to present the NDP as that alternative as a ready-to-govern option in every part of the province.

This election must be about what kind of future we want for our youth. We must create an economy and a society that our youth believe in and want to stay for. It’s time for change.

Jennifer McKenzie is leader of the New Brunswick New Democratic Party.

Jennifer McKenzie Commentary on Throne Speech

The Gallant Liberals have an abysmal record on healthcare which includes capitulating into a deal with their federal counterparts that does not account for the fact that we are the oldest and fastest aging province in Canada. Likely to shield themselves from the effects of this as healthcare costs rise, they have privatized and continue to privatize parts of the healthcare system we hold dear, like Extra Mural and Tele-Care. Only an NDP government would be assured of keeping our healthcare system public.

Vague promises of working with the Medical Society to get more family doctors are much different from the very explicit promise he made in the last election that every New Brunswicker would have a family doctor by 2018. There’s two months left until 2018 and far too many New Brunswickers are still without a family doctor.

I applaud the decision to finally implement First Contract Legislation which has been an NDP policy for years, however, the implementation of this bill is now urgent because of the healthcare privatization initiatives that this government is implementing.

Violence in the Workplace Legislation is also urgent now due to government neglect of this issue. Too many women and men experience violence in the workplace and have to wait three days to qualify for compensation. As New Brunswick is one of the last provinces to implement this legislation, how can this government call itself a pro-worker government when it only gets around to implementing Violence in the Workplace Legislation in the last year of its mandate?

Of course, the NDP completely supports more investments in childcare. During the 2014 campaign the Gallant Liberals also proposed greater investments on childcare than this throne speech offered. In fact, Brian Gallant called it a “no-brainer” pledging 6,000 new childcare spaces and $62 million to help low income parents afford childcare. These throne speech promises pale in comparison to the Gallant Liberals’ own campaign promises, offering only a fraction of what they promised to do to get elected in the first place.

NB NDP Comment on Election Speculation

October 23rd 2017
After a weekend of speculation that the Gallant Liberals would call what would have been a very premature election, Premier Gallant has finally put to rest rumours.  This game-playing showed a complete disrespect for the people of New Brunswick, his staff and his coworkers in the Legislative Assembly.  Rather than working to improve the lives of the people, he is playing games with the democratic process.


“On Friday, Brian Gallant’s office sent out a press release saying that their mandate was accomplished.  I, like many New Brunswickers, was concerned that the Premier felt that his job was done.  This province suffers from having some of the  lowest paid workers in the country, an underfunded healthcare system, and a lack of opportunities such that our children have to move away to find work,” said Jennifer McKenzie, Leader of the New Brunswick New Democratic Party.


“How can the Premier say that he’s growing the economy when we have the lowest median incomes in the country?  Clearly the economy isn’t growing for everyone.” added Ms. McKenzie.


“The NDP is  ready for the possibility of an early election. With innovative policy proposals and a healthy campaign war chest, we are more than prepared to offer New Brunswickers a serious alternative to the same old failed policies that the Liberals and Conservatives have been offering for decades.” said Ms. McKenzie.

“Industrial users must pay their fair share of property tax in Saint John”

“Industrial users must pay their fair share of property tax in Saint John”, said NB NDP leader Jennifer McKenzie today in response to the release this week of the “New deal for Saint John” initiative.  The Gallant government must respond to the real concerns of Saint John and other cities and must work with all municipalities to create a fair property tax system.

I agree with Cathy Rogers statement that the Equal Opportunity Program tax reforms of the 1960s gives the province the role to provincial government  to design and set property tax classifications in New Brunswick as a way to insure fairness across the province. But this is not an excuse for doing nothing.

This is a problem created by a series of unfortunate decisions of the Gallant government culminating when it arbitrarily put a freeze on 2018 property assessments to avoid the scandal caused by its political interference in the assessment process.

Canaport LNG’s assessment was reduced from $8.1 million to $2.6 million, or a $5.5 million reduction, when US firm Nationwide Consulting Company – a company that prides itself in persuading local authorities to reduce property taxes on behalf of industry – was hired by the province to assess the LNG property.

As I called for last month, we need  a real alternative to the property tax scheme in our province.  We need a commission to review the role property tax on people’s homes plays in the revenue of provincial and municipal levels. We must ask, what is a reasonable tax that home owners and industry should pay?

It has been well documented that industry has for years not paid its way and I  commend  Mayor Darling  and the Saint John Common Council for raising this important issue.


For media inquiries  please contact:

David Brown, 506 651-8203


The NB NDP is Hiring!

NB NDP Executive Director

The New Brunswick New Democratic Party is seeking an individual to fill the position of Executive Director.

The Executive Director is the senior administrative position in the NB NDP, reports to the Provincial Executive and is responsible for all operations and  on- going development of the Party.

The successful applicant must have excellent communication skills and be capable of playing a leadership role in a growing political organization. Applicant should have previous political and electoral  experience in the NDP.

Salary commensurate with experience.

Applications must be received at  the NB NDP at with resume on or before 4:30 pm on Friday,  November 17, 2017.

All applications shall be confidential to the hiring committee of the NB NDP.