POLITICS

New Brunswick Conservatives hold onto seat in Rothesay byelection

06/25/2012 09:01 EDT | Updated 08/25/2012 05:12 EDT
ROTHESAY, N.B. - New Brunswick's Progressive Conservatives will extend their 13-year hold on the provincial riding of Rothesay.

Hugh John (Ted) Flemming won Monday's byelection in the southern riding by almost 300 votes over his nearest rival — Liberal John Wilcox.

Flemming captures the seat vacated by former Tory cabinet minister Margaret-Ann Blaney.

She stepped down in May to become president of Efficiency New Brunswick, a Crown agency tasked with promoting energy efficiency.

Her appointment became campaign fodder as the opposition parties called it a case of political patronage.

She will be paid a salary of between $150,000 and $175,000, and the appointment is for at least five years.

But while Flemming distanced himself from the issue as he campaigned, saying he supported the premier and the Progressive Conservative government, but didn't support the appointment.

"I didn't do it and I don't support it," he said.

Flemming thanked his campaign supporters and said he would continue to speak freely when he gets to the legislature.

Progressive Conservative Premier David Alward welcomed the win for his party, but acknowledged the strong voter support for the Liberals and New Democrats.

"Voters sent a message that we have more work to do," Alward said Monday night.

Liberal John Wilcox finished second in the vote, while NDP Leader Dominic Cardy secured third spot in the five-candidate race.

Wilcox said the strong vote for second and third should send a message to the Conservatives.

"If you take the two votes combined, I think that clearly shows a message that the good people of Rothesay were not happy with what's been done here — the patronage appointment and probably a few other things," he said.

Despite being disappointed with the third place finish, Cardy said he was pleased with the support.

"We managed to knock on every single door in Rothesay to massively increase our vote over previous results and to clearly establish ourselves as a contender for power in the province, but we didn't get there yet," Cardy said.

The NDP has not had a member in the legislature since 2005.

The Conservatives now hold 42 seats in the legislature, while the Liberals have 13.