Incumbent for former Memramcook-Lakeville-Dieppe riding attempting to unseat MLA in new Memramcook-Tantramar riding
MEMRAMCOOK-TANTRAMAR, N.B – He’s served as an MLA for the Memramcook-Lakeville-Dieppe riding for eight years and will attempt a run at a third term, this time for a seat in the newly-established Memramcook-Tantramar riding.
Bernard LeBlanc, the Liberal Party candidate for the local riding in the upcoming provincial election, said he has been hitting the campaign trail hard for several weeks now and is excited about the potential of serving as the new MLA. He knows it won’t be an easy task to unseat the Conservative incumbent, who also has two terms under his belt, but he says he enjoys a good challenge.
“It’s a beautiful area and there’s so much potential here,” says LeBlanc, who hopes to be given the chance to represent the new riding.
LeBlanc, who has lived all his life in Memramcook, was first elected to the Legislature in 2006 and was re-elected in 2010. Now running for the third time, LeBlanc said his main goal is getting the economy back on track and creating more employment opportunities.
“With a Liberal government, creating jobs will be our priority,” he said. “We’ve got to create jobs here in New Brunswick, there’s no question about it.”
The current government has not placed enough efforts into economic development, said LeBlanc, preferring instead to look toward shale gas development as the answer to the low unemployment and financial struggles facing the province.
“This government has pursued one area only. They’re putting all their eggs in one basket. They should have been developing other jobs,” he said.
“I believe in this province,” said LeBlanc. “We have the capabilities to create employment, we just have to look outside the box.”
LeBlanc said the provincial government can work more closely with municipalities to create local job opportunities.
“Municipalities are the engine of growth and must play a role in creating employment . . . so we’ll be looking for those opportunities,” he said.
LeBlanc said there are also plenty of young, up-and-coming, innovative entrepreneurs throughout New Brunswick who are trying to create job opportunities here and that market should be tapped into.
“We have a lot of champions, a lot of people who want to get engaged ... entrepreneurs who know what this area needs,” he said. “We need to find a way to support them and make it easier for them to do business here.”
He also pointed out that more strategic investments in education will ensure students start getting the proper skills and training in order to fill the skills gap.
The Liberals also recently announced a significant investment into road construction and infrastructure, if elected, which will help create hundreds of jobs, said LeBlanc.
“It moves the economy, keeps it rolling,” he said.
A Liberal government would also place a moratorium on hydrofracking, said LeBlanc, an issue that seems to be a key concern for the majority of residents right across the riding.
LeBlanc said as he’s been going door to door during this election campaign, voters are voicing their fears about the potential risks involved in shale gas exploitation.
“They’re afraid for their water, their health and their environment,” he said.
The moratorium would not be lifted, said LeBlanc, until more questions are answered and until it has been determined that the hydraulic fracturing can be done safely without endangering the waterways and the air quality.
“It’s not there now,” he said.
If elected, LeBlanc said one of his first tasks as MLA would be to assess the road conditions in the riding, which is one of the largest in the province. He knows there are certain areas that need more work than others so it will be important to determine which will need to take precedence, safety and traffic wise.
“We have to make a blueprint. We have to know exactly where we’re going and have a plan to get there,”
LeBlanc, who describes himself as community-oriented, has been involved over the past couple of decades on a number of committees and projects in his hometown. He established Memramcook Valley Kindergarten, was president of the Memramcook Valley Community Centre, president of the Foyer Saint-Thomas, and chair of the Local Service District Committee in Pré-d’en-Haut and served as mayor of the village from 1996 to 2001. He has been a member of the executive of Dr. Georges L. Dumont Hospital, the Memramcook Institute and the Memramcook Historical Society.