Retired Sussex-area school teacher Cully Robinson doesn't currently live in Tobique-Mactaquac, but he plans to move to the riding if he wins the Sept. 20 election. And Robinson added, he intends to serve all voters' needs by being the voice of constituents in Ottawa.
He said MPs must be accessible and visible, something he suggests is not happening under incumbent Conservative MP Richard Bragdon.
Robinson — who ran unsuccessfully as the candidate for Sussex-Fundy-St. Martins in last year's provincial election — accepted the nomination when asked by the Tobique-Mactaquac Liberal Riding Association.
"I believe everyone has a civic duty to vote," he said. "And if asked to run, if you have the time and ability to do it, you should stand."
In his travels throughout Tobique-Mactaquac, Robinson said he found voters raising concerns about several issues with global warming, health care, housing for young people, and economic development topping the list.
He said health care appears to be the top issue, followed closely by climate change.
While acknowledging health care is a provincial purview, Robinson said the federal government controls funding, noting his party will increase health-care transfers and invest in other health-related programs. At the same time, he said, money must be spent as planned.
"We have to ask really tough questions about how that money is spent," he said.
He said New Brunswick must re-examine health care spending and operation.
"The way our health care is being run seems to be extinguishing services, not supporting them," Robinson said. "And, that's a concern.
During conversations in the riding, Robinson said, he heard over and over about the shortage of nurses and the lack of fair wages for health-care workers.
He also believes it's catamount to maintain health delivery as a public service and avoid the encroachment of private health delivery.
"Universal health care defines us as a nation," said Robinson
Regarding climate change, he said, his biggest concern is the lack of concern within the Conservative ranks, noting many "climate deniers" within the Conservative Party of Canada.
"That's ridiculous in this day and age," Robinson said.
The Liberal hopeful said his party's climate-change platform earned praise from experts, including Mark Carney, the former head of the Bank of Canada.
Robinson said the Liberal plan understands the importance of reducing carbon emissions and reaching the goals it set. While federal policies play the central role in addressing the climate crisis, he said, it requires a combined effort from all levels of government, along with industry and small business.
"Levels of government don't exist in vacuums," he said. "Municipal governments, MLAs, MPs, all levels of government have to work together."
He said corporations, small businesses and individuals are looking for support in searching for alternative energy options.
Calling small business the backbone of the economy, Robinson said the government must help them meet climate change challenges and help them overcome workforce shortages.
"Our employers need skilled labourers, skilled managers, and this has to have a multi-level effort working from municipal to federal levels," he said.
Robinson said the feds must partner with the province to develop an immigration process to meet workforce needs.
He said Canada also needs a multi-level effort to provide affordable education to train people to meet employment demands.
Robinson said the Liberals understand the fiscal challenges involved in protecting Canadians and restarting the economy.
"We've come through a period where our government has our backs," he said. "We had to go to a wartime footing. That's going to be ongoing for some time. We have to preserve and defend our economy and our citizens."
He said that it wouldn't require increased taxes for low and middle-income groups, but it requires a review of the tax levels of Canada's wealthiest.
"We have to ensure everyone is paying their fair share of taxes," Robinson said.
Jim Dumville, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, River Valley Sun