David Coon, New Brunswick Politics, and the History of Environmental Activism in Ontario

If you've been following coverage of the New Brunswick election that occurred yesterday, you may have heard that the leader of the provincial Green Party, David Coon, was elected in the Fredericton South riding. While David spent twenty-eight years with the Conservation Council of New Brunswick before entering the world of electoral politics, I actually first came into contact with him while researching the history of environmental activism in Ontario. As it turns out, he worked with Pollution Probe during the late 1970s. He explained in a far-reaching interview that it was a turbulent period at the ENGO, as they constantly struggled to meet payroll. (These cash flow problems would lead Energy Probe, then a part of the Pollution Probe Foundation, to separate and form the Energy Probe Research Foundation.) It was an exciting time as well, as Pollution Probe was in the midst of developing Ecology House, the energy conservation demonstration site that would serve as its headquarters throughout the 1980s and into the 1990s. David was kind enough to share a photograph of Ecology House with me, which will appear in my book.

As it turns out, David is just the second Green Party candidate elected to a provincial legislature in Canada. In an interesting twist, David is married to Janice Harvey, one of the candidates that ran in the 1980 federal election as part of "the small party," an Elizabeth May-led group that ran on an anti-nuclear platform. Using E.F. Schumacher's Small is Beautiful as their platform, the small party aimed to bring attention to the nuclear issue by running candidates against high profile members of the government. None were elected, but this group is historically significant insofar that it served as the root of the Green Party of Canada.