By Mark Squibb | Vol. 7 No.9 (May 9 2019)
After seeing no one else stepping up to the plate, David Brake is hoping to give Mount Pearl a taste of what the NDP has to offer.
Brake has been living in Newfoundland since 2016. In the past, he’s lived in Ontario after moving from the United Kingdom a number of years ago. He said he hopes his new involvement in politics will help him better the region for his family, as well as everyone else around them who call the district home.
“I look around this province, and I see the state of the tweedledum and twedledee parties, as I like to call them, and I couldn’t stand by and do nothing,” Brake said. “It’s a relatively small province, so in bigger places one might think ‘Oh, that’s someone else’s job.’ But this time it’s my job. I was able to get time off work, and I though that if I don’t step forward, then who will? It’s on me.”
Brake works for Let’s Talk Science, an educational organization that aims to get young children involved in science, math, and engineering at an early age. He has worked as an educator for nearly a decade.
On top of that, Brake has done a fair bit of activism over the years. While he still lived in England, Brake got involved with trying to spruce up a local park in his neighbourhood, which he said went quite successfully.
That, he says, is where he got his first taste of doing good for a community and his fellow residents.
Now, his activism is focused more on the existence, or possibly lack thereof, of public transportation. This chapter of his activism started while living in Ontario, but after moving to this province and seeing the state of Newfoundland’s public transportation system, he said his efforts have doubled as he aims to see a reliable public transportation system implemented.
“I picked up the reigns of the essential transit association, which is lobbying to establish and improve regional transit in the province, and I’m delighted to see that one of the elements of (the NDP’s) platform is looking at a regional transit plan, and helping to support that,” Brake explained. “That’s particularly important for Mount Pearl and Southlands - Southlands especially. Because there’s no regional transit authority, if they want to get transit coverage, which they need, Mount Pearl has to pay St. John’s the cost of running a bus out to Mount Pearl, and they want to organize it in an efficient way that it can get to most people … Who pays what to whom? That’s an area where having a regional authority would really help.”
Aside from some capital expenditures, Brake said the costs of running and maintaining a transit network fall on the municipalities. This, Brake said, ties in well with one of the NDP’s policies that looks to work with Municipalities NL to see some sales tax revenue fall back into the hands of towns and cities, ultimately giving them more spending money for things he sees as essential services, such as a regional transit system.
“The province goes around to these communities, and tells them ‘Oh, we’ll give you this, and we’ll give you that.’ The municipalities just aren’t in the driver’s seat,” Brake said. “The power needs to come down a little bit and more into the hands of local people.”
Brake is also involved in Happy City St. John’s, which tries to raise awareness of municipal issues, and encourage political participation by people in the region. He said he’d like to see this organization expand to become something of a Happy Northeast Avalon instead, though he understands this might be a plan for further into the future.
“I want to make sure the values and policies the NDP espouses will really have a voice in the Mount Pearl area, and like I said, I felt that someone should step up to the plate this time around. This time, it was me,” Brake said.
“I’ve heard that childcare is a big burden that people hope to see dealt with. I think it’s rather opportunistic that the PCs have basically yoinked our policy, which we had for many years, but I don’t know how seriously you can take a policy like that that just pops up out of nowhere from them, when we’ve been banging on the same drum for many years. Childcare is an issue, particularly in Mount Pearl where there are a lot of young families, the schools are getting to be quite crowded. Southlands doesn’t have a school and, Galway, if it grows as it hopes, will need one. So that’s something else we’ll need to look into carefully.”
Brake said the NDP has some solid ground to stand on, despite the constant struggle for power between the two major parties in the province - the Liberals and the PCs.
The province is due for change, he added, and he hopes to see voters give the NDP a shot this time around, if only to give them a chance.
Brake was especially critical of some of the more recent endeavours from the PC party, such as Ches Crosbie’s new “Pot for Potholes” idea.
“Tying, in some way, income from cannabis sales to fix potholes for no other reason than the fact that it goes well together in a sentence … Is this really the level of thinking that we want in this province?” asked Brake. “We have plenty of skilled, talented people, and I don’t get a sense from either of the other two parties that they’re doing the forward thinking that (the NDP) is doing.”