POLITICS

New Brunswick Byelection: Saint John East Voters Back To Polls

11/16/2014 01:00 EST | Updated 01/16/2015 05:59 EST
FREDERICTON - People in the New Brunswick riding of Saint John East head back to the polls Monday in one of the more strange byelections to be called in recent memory.

Liberal Gary Keating won the seat in the Sept. 22 general election by just nine votes to sit on the government side in what was the closest contest in the province.

But three weeks later and before he was sworn in, he quit, saying in a statement that the hours and travel that came with the job would have had a negative impact on his health and family.

Still new into his role as premier with no real record to run on yet, Brian Gallant called a byelection.

"It's too soon for anyone to form a new, negative judgment about the new government, so I think nobody can take too much for granted here," said Tom Bateman, a political scientist at St. Thomas University in Fredericton. "It is going to be a bit of a ground war."

Glen Savoie is again running for the Progressive Conservatives, hoping to build on his second-place finish in the general election.

"I know a lot of people didn't get out last time that are telling me they are getting out this time," Savoie said. "That to me is a good sign that they know what direction they want to go."

The Liberals enlisted Shelley Rinehart, the deputy mayor in Saint John. She has been telling voters that as part of the government she could work to create partnerships with the city for the development of infrastructure and recreational projects.

"We have an opportunity to make a decision to put somebody on the side of government to represent the interests of people who live in East Saint John," she said.

But some observers were left scratching their heads about her candidacy for the Liberals as they noted her support in the provincial election for the Tory candidate in her home riding of Saint John Lancaster.

Rinehart said she had a Progressive Conservative campaign sign on her lawn because she couldn't support the Liberal candidate due to differences over visions of economic development.

For Dominic Cardy, the byelection is a battle for his political future. The NDP leader had high hopes of securing a foothold in the legislature in the general election but his party was shut out. He announced his intention to resign as party leader that night.

Supporters urged him to reconsider and run in the byelection. He heeded the call, which will be his third attempt to win a seat.

"Part of being a leader is listening to people, so I'm doing that," he said. "I'm here and happy to be in this race."

The Liberals hold a majority in the legislature with 26 seats, while the Tories have 21. The Green party leader also has a seat.

Sharon Murphy is running again for the Greens and Arthur Watson is on the ballot for the People's Alliance of New Brunswick.

None of the candidates live in the riding.

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In Photos: Brian Gallant