Chocolate milk, carbon tax, municipal governance among election issues Friday

A unique election issue has emerged in New Brunswick: chocolate milk.

The province's Liberal government introduced a much-derided ban on chocolate milk and other sugary drinks and snacks from being sold in schools, and the Conservatives have promised to kill it.

Tory Leader Blaine Higgs was even filmed drinking chocolate milk during the first week of the campaign for the Sept. 24 election, as the party said it would combat obesity in schools with meaningful programs, not token efforts.

On Friday, Liberal Education Minister Brian Kenny said he was troubled by reports from groups who said the ban, introduced in June, jeopardized their school fundraising events.

Some parent groups said the ban extended to what could be sold during fundraisers that generated revenues for such things as school supplies and a lunch program for students who had no meals.

Kenny says the policy, part of a continent-wide trend toward healthier school lunches, needs to be applied with common sense and judgement, and he'll make sure it's clarified if the Liberal government is re-elected.

While other political parties say they'll oppose a carbon tax, New Brunswick New Democrats say one is coming and they have a plan for it.

NDP Leader Jennifer McKenzie says, if elected, her party would introduce a Carbon Reduction Fund of 30 dollars per ton of carbon reduction that would reach 50 dollars per ton after four years.

She says the money would be used to help the province transition to green energy.

McKenzie said one-third of the funds would be returned to low and middle-income people in the form of a rebate.

Another third would be invested in green energy such as wind, solar, hydro, nuclear and geothermal.

She says the remaining third of the funds would go to green infrastructure programs such as electrified public transit and energy efficiency programs for homes.

New Brunswick's Progressive Conservative leader says the Liberal government has starved cities of the things they need to propel the province towards prosperity.

Blaine Higgs says prosperous municipalities mean more opportunities and a better quality of life for the people who live there.

Higgs says if his party wins the election it will overhaul the Local Governance Act to give municipalities greater control over their own affairs, including powers over taxation and property assessment.

He says a Tory government would support regionalization and partnerships and remove the "for profit" restrictions on city-owned utilities.

The provincial election is set for September 24th.