2006 January 6
By BARB RAYNER
ST. ANDREWS Green Party candidate Erik Millett says he would really like to see New Brunswick Southwest elect the first ever Green MP which would put the riding on the map historically for ever.
A St. Andrews resident, he has been vice-principal of Milltown Elementary School since 2004 and prior to that worked at the Kiwanis Community Station alternative school in District 10 for two years.
Born in Truro, N.S., but raised in Saint John he has been living in the riding for four years now and this is his second run in New Brunswick Southwest for the party.
He is a graduate of Carleton University, St. Thomas University and UNB . Since moving to the area, he has become a member of the St. Andrews Film Society, the St. Andrews Players theatre group, is on the provincial board of directors of the Conservation Council of New Brunswick, is secretary for the John Howard Society Charlotte County Outreach Committee and is the New Brunswick representative on the Green party's national council.
Millett said he has always been a champion of the underdog, working for marginalized people.
"I've always had a soft spot for those kind of marginalized issues and causes whether protesting low level test flights over Labrador or putting my politics on the line and being arrested to stop the flow of arms to third world dictatorships or whatever the case might be.
"I think the Green Party has been a marginalized voice in the past. I don't know so much it's coming into the main steam as it's inevitable that sooner or later people are going to realize that capitalism as an economic system, much like socialism and communism as an economic model, is unsustainable and what we need is something to replace that with.
"We need more locally, democratically controlled decision-making and decentralization of power to let communities make decisions for themselves with long term environmental sustainability as the central point of that. Of course this flies in the face of the dominant culture which is globalization, centralization and monopolization of resources. When we don't listen to our own fisherfolk, farmers or wood lot owners, we're doing so at our own peril, I believe."
Millett became involved in the Green Party when he was living and working in the Republic of the Maldives. The majority of the country is nine feet above sea level so sea level rise is a huge concern and they were hit quite hard by last year's tsunami.
"Whether it's the tsunami and the environmental fall out from that or whether it's Hurricane Katrina and the failure of the dykes, I think all these are lessons that technology is no match for Mother Nature and we can fool ourselves for a certain period of time but eventually something will happen and technology will fail."
In this election, said Millett, one of the big issues is liquefied natural gas (LNG). Both he and party leader Jim Harris are on record as being opposed to any LNGs in Passamaquoddy Bay but also to LNGs period including the one proposed for Saint John.
He is also opposed to Point Lepreau because, he said, eventually technology will fail and the nuclear generating station is built on an earthquake fault. If there ever is an earthquake, said Millett, he does not have the confidence in the technology that the station will withstand whatever Mother Nature will throw at it.
"Lepreau is out of sight and out of mind for most people but it represents a much more detrimental and a much longer-term environmental threat to this region than any LNG plant but both Jim Harris and I are both on record that we are opposed to LNGs - period - not move them up the coast."
People have said that security on LNG tankers is not that great, said Millett, so what is stopping someone from highjacking one and sailing it directly into Point Lepreau. If they are going to have LNG in Saint John, he said, those tankers will be sailing right past Point Lepreau.
New Brunswick Southwest is a rural riding, said Millett, relying mostly on fishing, farming and forestry so why is there a nuclear power plant in their backyard? In this type of area, he said, it makes more sense to have a lot of small sources of power generation.
Another issue closely linked with LNG, said Millett, is the recognition of the Passamaquoddy First Nation. It's interesting, he said, that it's only since the LNG issue came up that the Passamaquoddy have really been consulted and given recognition.
"I think now is the time that we give the Passamaquoddy their due. This is their land. They never ceded it. They never gave it up in a treaty and it's time the Canadian government recognized the Passamaquoddy as an officially recognized First Nation in Canada and the land rights that come with that.
"I think that's an unresolved social issue for a large part of this riding that hasn't been addressed and it affects three or four hundred residents with Passamaquoddy heritage."
Green Party leader Jim Harris has been in the riding twice in the last six months, said Millett, and was most recently in Gagetown demanding compensation for those exposed to the different chemical agents.
Millett said he feels it is time to revisit the role of the Canadian military and he would like to see it much more associated with the UN and its peacekeeping role and have that reflected in terms of what Base Gagetown is used for. He said he does not feel spending money on new equipment is the answer and they need to define what the purpose of the military is and what they want to use it for.
The economic base of this riding depends on fishing, farming and forestry, said Millett, and these resources need to be managed into the long term, looking down the road six and seven generations.
"I would like to see a real kind of consultation or visioning process take place for this riding with those who have a stake in those resources and chart a course for the long term, sustainable management of those resources and identify what programs are there so they can take advantage of them."
Millett said he would love to see New Brunswick Southwest known as the only riding in the country where all farmland is under organic production or that the Bay of Fundy is free of fish farming or that the woodlots are being sustainably harvested.
"That takes someone with vision and leadership who will get people involved and chart a course as opposed to just letting the status quo continue. I believe in challenging the status quo when it's not working and I would argue that the status quo needs to be challenged in this riding - and perhaps in the country as well."
This week the Green Party, which has 308 candidates running across the country, released their platform and Millett said its not just an environmental party but a party that argues that at the core of everything you do, the environment needs to be front and centre.
With respect to aquaculture, he said the party has said it would phase out aquaculture and federal government bail-outs for the industry would go.
"I think it would be really neat if the voters in this riding decided to vote Green and elect the first Green MP in Canadian history and even if it was the only Green MP it would put this riding on the map historically forever and at a time when I think the environment is crucial to this riding. I think it is really time we start looking at the world through a green lens."
Millett is currently in negotiations with the province's Department of Education as they have a policy that states that anyone seeking political office has to take an unpaid leave of absence even though he was prepared to work and only campaign in his off hours. He said the New Brunswick Teachers Association is seeking a legal opinion on this since this is the only province requesting this and he may challenge the ruling under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Since he is a provincial employee and running federally he said he didn't see any direct conflict of interest.
Although he had no signs up in the last election, Millett said he has taken 50 generic signs that can be reused and will give them to people who request them. He said he has challenged the other candidates to only put signs on private property, because private citizens are not allowed to put up signs on public property where they want.
© 2006 Advocate Media
Article republished on Save Passamaquoddy Bay website with permission.
The Saint Croix Courier, St. Stephen, NB