Democracy Soup

Making sense out of the world of politics

New Brunswick goes Liberal and adds a Green MLA

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This column courtesy of CanadianCrossing.com runs here with complete permission.

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New Brunswick flipped back to the Liberals, but not by much.

The Liberals took back the government in New Brunswick by an unofficial count of 27-21-1. The 1 went to the Green Party. Much more on that later.

Brian Gallant is the premier-designate. The Progressive Conservatives’ David Alward is out after one term, same as the Liberals’ Shawn Graham. Before Alward’s win in 2010, New Brunswick premiers have gone at least 2 terms since Confederation.

Gallant and the Liberals led early in the race, but the PCs made some progress toward the end of the race.

The themes of the night were very close races and frustration over getting vote counts from the new tabulation machines system. The PCs are asking for a hand count of the votes. 5 of the 49 ridings were decided by fewer than 100 votes.

David Coon will represent the Fredericton South riding for the Green Party, the only MLA not from a major party. The NDP hadn’t elected a MLA in 9 years, and NDP leader Dominic Cardy came up empty last night. Cardy says he will resign as party leader.

The People’s Alliance almost took a seat, but also fell short.

The Liberals won in great part over being vague on shale gas and the potential for fracking. Coon also won his seat in great part over the issue. If the Liberals thought about fracking, the close margin and Coon’s presence will make that more difficult. Nova Scotia is introducing legislation to ban fracking this fall.

Without shale gas and fracking, the economy and jobs and keeping young people in the province will be paramount for the new Gallant government. That, along with a massive provincial debt, will make the Liberals job that much tougher. Not having a consenus majority will also make those tasks difficult.

I watched and listened extensively to the CBC coverage last night. In all that time, the word “abortion” was never mentioned. The closing of the Morgentaler Clinic definitely weighed on New Brunswick voters. A rough economy means people can’t afford unwanted children; limiting abortion options hurts the economy even further. Unfortunately for pro-choice advocates, the close margin may make change more difficult for the Liberals.

The PC party went from 41 seats (out of 55) to 21 seats. The Liberals went from 13 seats to 27 seats. The independent seat went Green in this election. New Brunswick voters wanted a significant change for the second election in a row.

Even in the relatively poor Maritimes, New Brunswick is hurting. According to former Lt. Gov. Mariliyn Trenholme Counsell, the province has the lowest literacy rates of all provinces with the exception of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Counsell also noted that over half of New Brunswick’s citizens 15-65 “do not have the necessary literacy levels (level 3) or the workplace essential skills to compete in the workplace.”

We heard a lot during the CBC coverage about young people moving to Alberta to make more money and because they aren’t many good jobs in New Brunswick.

I enjoyed my time in New Brunswick and the province is absolutely gorgeous to see. But I could definitely see the economic concerns that plague the province. Let’s hope the people of New Brunswick can figure out some of these heartbreaking issues. And strength to the new Liberal government: Brian Gallant and his fellow Liberals will need all the help they can get.

photo credit: me

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