RE: Pre-NB Day Thoughts on #Moncton & #NBpoli

Dear George LeBlanc, Mayor of Moncton
CC:  Robert Berry, Mayor of Sackville 
       Claude Williams, New Brunswick Minster of Transport
       Martine Coulombe, New Brunswick Minister of Post-Secondary Education, Training and Labour

New Brunswickers are a creative people. In trying economic times, this creativity is paramount; we need to address our social and economic challenges in a way that meets present and future needs of the province

The difficulties of the Greater Moncton Area are exemplary of social and economic tension. Currently, the only English degree granting institution in the GMA is Crandall. I refrain from calling them a university because of their compromised concepts of academic freedom. They operate under Christian fundamentalist ideas requiring that faculty have a personal faith in Jesus Christ, that one hold personal and professional views that are consistent with the Bible and the university’s Statement of Faith.[1] The Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) concluded that Crandall’s concept of academic freedom is “significantly inconsistent with that of the CAUT and the majority of universities across the western world, and assurances that free enquiry is still possible within its constraints are unconvincing.”[2]

Further, they have a written policy prohibiting the hiring of queer faculty. Crandall is in no way a public institution and should not receive public funding to inculcate hate in our society.

Moncton has also experienced the failure of Highfield Square. The once bustling mall is crumbling and taking up space. Highfield’s redevelopment will be integral to the definition of the GMA as a modern world-class small city.  

All of the redevelopment concepts presented by city council emphasized how the proximity to the Moncton Central Train Station will be a driver for the complex’ continued success. That notion took a blow as Via announced a reduction in “The Ocean” route between Montreal and Halifax. Present concern has many Monctonians crying foul as they lose their weekend connection to Halifax.

We can do this New Brunswick; take these 3 bad things and make an awesome thing. We can organize our resources effectively to make Moncton an international example of small city living. Many things make the GMA a great place to live, study, and do business. Moncton boasts: a bilingual labour force, an accomplished French university, access to transportation, affordable rents, and both career and community colleges. The GMA has one obvious deficit: an English university. As noted, Crandall has an unflattering academic reputation, which prohibits it from fulfilling the economic and cultural potential of a university.  

The development of South-Eastern New Brunswick must include an emphasis on Sackville’s Mount Alison University. One of the most respected undergraduate institutions in Canada, MTA is only 50 km from Moncton. Further, Moncton and Sackville are connected directly by rail. While the Via Rail service cut may be an inconvenience, it frees up a lot of rail time.

I’m suggesting the development of a commuter train system in South Eastern New Brunswick extending from the Greater Moncton International Airport to the Central Station near Highfield Square, and to Sackville. This route has many strategic advantages; foremost, connecting the airport to the downtown core is great for tourism. It will also become increasingly valuable as a means of public transit as Dieppe continues to grow.

Connecting Sackville means integrating MTA’s world class English education into the urban amenities of the GMA. This blend of urban and rural-academic lifestyles will attract innovators and investors to the area. Further, the airport connection to the downtown core and Sackville makes both Universit√© de Moncton and Mount Allison more accessible to international and out of province students studying in either of our official languages.

I admit this sounds expensive, but it’s not infeasible. Consider that the redevelopment of Highfield is inevitable, and not connecting our air travellers to that development would be regrettable. The rail to Sackville is not only built, it’s becoming more available. Lastly, it would be entirely appropriate to reallocate funds once earmarked for Crandall to Mount Allison and the development of a South East railway. Seeing that since 1996 Crandall has regrettably received over $24 million[3] in public money, we can make this happen.

[1] Fleming, Berkely, and Jennie Hornosty. Report of an Inquiry Regarding Academic Freedom at Crandall University (formerly Atlantic Baptist University). Moncton, New Brunswick: Canadian Association of University Teachers, 2010. P. 20
[2] Ibid. P. 20
[3] Global Maritimes. Calls to cut funding for Moncton university that prohibits hiring of gays. May 28, 2012. (accessed August 3, 2012).