Progressive Conservative Leader David Alward is campaigning in Moncton today and is using the city’s economic turnaround 20 years ago to boost his argument to develop a shale gas industry.
Alward used freight trains as a backdrop for his morning photo-op. The trains behind the Tory leader carry wood products to market.
“Here at CN’s yards in Moncton we can see the heartbeat of New Brunswick’s economy,” Alward said.
But Alward also cited greater Moncton’s success in the 1990s in depending less on rail and more on new industries like call centres and information technology companies.
And he tied that economic turnaround to his pro-hydraulic fracturing campaign, arguing local leaders in the city could have shied away from new sectors.
“Instead they took a different direction and said yes to the opportunities that they had,” he said.
‘It’s about having a diversified approach, and that’s what greater Moncton did. And it was also about going after a sector that was safe.’- Liberal Roger Melanson
But Dieppe Liberal candidate Roger Melanson said it’s not a valid comparison because Alward’s basing everything on shale gas.
“It’s about having a diversified approach, and that’s what greater Moncton did. And it was also about going after a sector that was safe,” he said.
Melanson also said community leaders were united in Moncton, which is hardly the case now, with New Brunswick divided over shale gas.
A CBC/Radio-Canada poll, which was conducted by Corporate Research Associates, found 49 per cent of people completely or mostly supported the exploration and development of shale gas compared to 44 per cent who said they mostly or completely opposed the industry.
The poll said 67 per cent said they completely or mostly agreed that the shale gas industry would lead to long-term economic benefits for the province.
The survey also indicated that 81 per cent completely or mostly agree that regulations are required but they still worry about the environmental impact of shale gas.
Corporate Research Associates surveyed 800 people on the telephone between Aug. 19 and 31. The poll’s margin of error is plus or minus 3.5 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.
Job creation has been a main theme for both the Progressive Conservatives and the Liberals during the election campaign.
The Tories have focused their campaign on developing the shale gas sector. Meanwhile, the Liberals have promised to use a $900-million infrastructure fund to stimulate the economy over six years.