Outgoing New Brunswick Premier Blaine Higgs won his bet Monday night by securing a majority in Canada’s first general election since the start of the pandemic.
The Progressive Conservative Party won 27 of the 49 seats in the province, securing a narrow majority in the Legislature. The Liberals had to settle for 17 seats, while the Greens and the People’s Alliance of New Brunswick follow with three and two seats respectively.
In addition to winning the majority of the seats, the Progressive Conservatives had obtained about 39.3% of the votes cast, against 34.4% for the Liberals by 9:45 p.m. The Greens, at 15.2%, and the Alliance , at 9.2%, brought up the rear.
Not surprisingly, support for the Liberals was concentrated in the north of the province and in Acadia, while votes for the Progressive Conservatives crystallized in the rest of the province, particularly in urban areas.
Mr. Higgs has therefore, as predicted by the polls, succeeded in his bet. The Progressive Conservative leader at the head of a minority government since the fall of 2018 had decided to call an early election on August 17 after a few days of negotiations with the opposition parties, judging that his government could no longer go forward.
Mr. Higgs himself was re-elected in his riding of Quispamsis, while his main rival, Liberal Leader Kevin Vickers, was defeated in the riding of Miramichi. Mr. Vickers rose to fame in 2014 when he shot an assailant in the Parliament of Ottawa when he was the House of Commons Sergeant-at-Arms.
“Tonight the road has cleared. [..] New Brunswickers want us to seize the momentum and keep moving forward, ”Higgs enthused in his victory speech.
“I will continue to be inclusive and collaborative, whether with urban or rural areas. Our goal will be to help all regions […]. Together we will recover [de la pandémie], we will reach our full potential and we will reach new heights, ”added Higgs.
The Prime Minister took the opportunity to congratulate his fellow citizens, who went to the polls in large numbers despite COVID-19.
“I know that many of you are disappointed with the results and I take full responsibility for it. Consequently, I am resigning as leader of the Liberal Party of New Brunswick, ”reacted Kevin Vickers, visibly disappointed with the results.
“There is still a lot of work to do to grow our economy, protect our environment and bridge the gap between New Brunswickers,” he added, calling on his troops to uphold his party values.
For his part, the leader of the Greens, David Coon, admitted in an interview with CTV News that he hoped that a new minority government would be elected, judging in passing that in his opinion, the previous government of the last two years “has served New Brunswickers beautifully ”.
Mr Coon also said he was pleased to see that his party was able to retain its seats, while increasing its share of the popular vote.
Pandemic forces, the four-week election campaign has taken on an unusual face, taking place almost entirely on social networks and through press conferences. The traditional handshakes, photos with babies and door to door had to be left aside by the candidates, who had to respect the rules of social distancing.
The last general election in New Brunswick, on September 24, 2018, had a controversial outcome, with the Liberals winning the popular vote, but with one seat less than the Progressive Conservatives. Former Liberal Premier Brian Gallant tried to rally the Alliance of New Brunswickers and the Green Party to form a government, without success, leaving the way open to Blaine Higgs.