N.B. Liberals surprise party leaders with amendments to their throne speech
In a surprise twist, New Brunswick's minority Liberal government is amending its own throne speech.
Adding what some are calling a “goodie bag” of promises in the hopes they'll find a way to survive Friday’s confidence vote in what some see as an act of desperation.
It was business as usual. Almost all New Brunswick party leaders had already spoken to media -- except the liberals.
But then Benoit Bourque rose in the house.
“We have a historical and important opportunity for all parties to collaborate and find the best solutions for New Brunswickers,” Bourque said.
He then presented an amendment to last week’s throne speech, adding a grocery list of promises to appease the other parties, including:
- More money for paramedics and home support workers;
- a review of social assistance;
- additional support for adults with autism;
- reducing the small business tax; and,
- promising to meet with all party leaders even if the house isn't in session.
“Well, we're doing it because we have a vote on Friday,” said Liberal MLA Lisa Harris.
The Liberals admit they're trying something, and hoping it will work.
“Shame on us if we didn't come out and use every opportunity that we can,” Harris said. “And it’s an opportunity for them to say ‘hey you know what? The Liberals did listen.’”
The opposition parties have until Friday -- during the vote -- to make a decision on this.
Each of the three party leaders admitted to being very surprised
“I don’t know how I feel,” said Peoples Alliance of New Brunswick leader Kris Austin.
“Well who knew that you could do over a throne speech,” said Green Party leader David Coon. “I didn't know a do-over was possible!”
Progressive Conservative leader Blaine Higgscalled the move “quite unusual.”
After the surprise wore off, Higgs was less diplomatic.
“If this was supposed to be such a collaborative effort, this throne speech to begin with, you'd have to question what is the necessity now for amendments other than desperation,” Higgs said. “That's what we've witnessed: desperation.”
The amendments caught Coon’s attention.
“They've taken some things right out of our platform and added them in so, it makes it much more interesting than it was before,” Coon said.
Austin took a position more aligned with Higgs.
“I think they're grasping at straws,” Austin said.
Harris touted the importance of the vote on the throne speech.
“They're making a big decision on Friday that's going to change the course of the province of New Brunswick,” she said.
This is the first time in 100 years that this is happened. So we are just trying to show that hey, this is available to us, we used it - we want to work with you.”
Most people expect the vote will take place Friday. That's assuming all parties use up all of their time to debate.
If not, it could happen sooner.
With files from CTV Atlantic’s Laura Brown.