Citizens of New Brunswick deserve an open debate about their future.
“A task force charged to solve a particularly complex problem is generally comprised of individuals representing a variety of perspectives, expertise and experience and it engages in broad public consultation to inform its deliberations. A report with recommendations comes at the end of a thoughtful, inclusive process, and reflects as much as possible a consensus of thinking among its diverse members, influenced by what they have heard from the public.” – Janice Harvey, Telegraph-Journal column, February 21, 2007
This task force has a mandate to make recommendations to the government that will have a major impact on the economy, environment and social fabric of the province for at least the next generation. In order to properly examine the issues facing the province, the task force must explore the issues from many viewpoints and be open to a wide range of suggestions and ideas. Instead, this task force is seeking input through a limited number of mechanisms such as private meetings, the Internet and only 3 days of public hearings in Fredericton. We believe that the ongoing private meetings are not sufficient and that a democratic and public process is required. Such a process would recognize all citizens as stakeholders in New Brunswick’s social, economic and ecological future and provide an opportunity for all citizens to participate through a series of open public meetings held in all areas of the province.
The Self-Sufficiency Task Force is holding three days of hearings in Fredericton but this is not sufficient and the hearings are already full. As well, the process is very limited because of the resources, such as money and time, which are needed in order for organizations, citizen committees or individuals to participate. This applies even more so, for those from the Edmundston, Restigouche or Bathurst areas, all of which will be heavily impacted by the current proposals.
The survey offered on the Self-Sufficiency Task Force website is simplistic and restrictive. It only allows survey takers to agree or disagree with the statements in the reports authored by the task force. The topics for discussion are framed solely in terms of the statements made in the task force reports. A democratic process would provide an opportunity for input on topics other than those presented in the Self-Sufficiency task force reports.
A percentage of New Brunswickers do not have access to the Internet, limiting the number of people who are able to participate in the web-based survey. As well, the survey is not secure and can be taken several times by any individual who wishes to do so. This will produce meaningless results that have the potential to be highly skewed. The Self-Sufficiency Task Force cannot use this survey as a measure of support for their ideas.
Many citizens who would like and need to give input, are not able to submit briefs, due to time and/or financial restrictions. There is no indication that those who do submit briefs will have the opportunity to present and defend their submissions publicly.
We call on Premier Shawn Graham to open the Self-Sufficiency Task Force to all citizens of New Brunswick through public meetings in every region of the province. Every New Brunswicker has a right to participate in the debate about the future development of their province regardless of social position, level of education, place of residence or accessibility to the Internet.
Groups endorsing this statement include:
- Bathurst Sustainable Development, Brenda Kelly, 548-2106 - Campaign for Pesticide Reduction – NB, Patty Donovan, 849-8997 - Citizens Coalition for Clean Air, Gordon Dalzell, 696-3510 - Citizens' Press, Graham Cox, 455-8756 - Civic Fidelity Inc., John-Paul Arp, 461-4071 - Coalition of Concerned Citizens, Unions and Small Businesses – Saint John, Teresa Debly, 633-0270 - Common Front for Social Justice, Linda McCaustlin, 854-5856 - Conservation Council of New Brunswick, Jaime Watson, 476-6093 - Council of Canadians - Greater Moncton Chapter, Anne Levesque, 389-1779 - Council of Canadians -Saint John Chapter, George Vair, 672-1412 - Environnement Vie, Florian Levesque, 826-2648 - Forest Watch – Kent, Roger Babin, 775-6639 - Fredericton Social Network, Tracy Glynn, 454-9527 - KAIROS Saint John, Sister Angie Martz - New Brunswick Federation of Labour, Michel Boudreau, 381-8969 - New Brunswick Partners in Agriculture, Gabriele Kretzschmar, 488-2407 - Opponents to the Grand Lake Industrial Waste Landfill, Randy Nason, 339-5448 - People Against Nuclear Energy, Beth McLaughlin, 854-6377 - Public for the Protection of the Forests of New Brunswick, Donald Thébeau, 775-9239 - SOS Eau Water Sankwan, Louisa Barton-Duguay, 204-0473 - Symbiose, Simon Dubé, 384-2938 - Coalition for Pay Equity of NB - Public Service Alliance of Canada, Dave Shaw, Atlantic Regional Organizer