New Brunswick premier calls early election during pandemic
HALIFAX -- Less than two years after winning a minority of the seats in the provincial legislature, New Brunswick Progressive Conservative Premier Blaine Higgs has called an election for Sept. 14.
"The choice was made last week when the Liberals walked out of our meetings," Higgs said.
The premier said the Green Party and the People's Alliance of New Brunswick (PANB) were willing, but the opposition party was not willing to agree to prop up the Higgs minority government until September 2022, or until the pandemic had been declared over.
Higgs says he consulted with Dr. Jennifer Russell, the province's chief medical officer of health, before deciding to call the election.
"She advised that we could safely proceed with a general election," Higgs said.
Even still, it will be an election campaign unlike any other, Higgs said, because there will be no door-to-door canvassing and no distribution of hand-held brochures.
"Politicians will have to get creative," he said.
Higgs said the decision to call an election was his alone.
New Brunwick Liberal leader Kevin Vickers was critical of Higgs and the decision.
"Under Blaine Higgs, our people have been divided," Vickers said.
Higgs said it is the responsibility of Elections of New Brunswick to develop new protocols to ensure that the election can be held while conforming to public health guidelines.
At dissolution, the Progressive Conservatives have 20 seats, the Liberals have 20 seats, while the Greens and the PANB have three each. There are two vacant seats and there is one Independent MLA.