FREDERICTON — Premier Blaine Higgs has called an election in New Brunswick for Sept. 14, the first time Canadians will go to the polls since COVID-19 hit.
“We are in a pandemic and the coming election campaign will not be like any election we have ever experienced,” Higgs told reporters following his meeting with Lt.-Gov. Brenda Murphy, during which he asked her to dissolve the province’s 59th legislature.
He said candidates will need to be creative and innovative to get out the vote while following health directives to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus.
“As difficult as it is to imagine, our candidates will not be going door-to-door and they will not be leaving any hand-delivered papers or brochures on your doorstep.”
Higgs said he spoke with Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Jennifer Russell before his decision to call the snap election and she advised that a general election could proceed safely.
The Tory premier threatened last week to trigger a provincial vote unless opposition parties agreed to keep his minority government in power until 2022 — or until the pandemic was declared over.
But Liberal Leader Kevin Vickers walked out of talks aimed at reaching a multi-party power-sharing arrangement Friday, saying they amounted to a power grab by Higgs.
On Monday, Higgs said he felt Vickers ``had a lot of pressure not to get an agreement, not to have a path forward, and I think that’s extremely unfortunate.″
The premier said this election is about “substance and stability.”
“New Brunswickers will need to decide who can lead them into the unknown that may surface in the coming months and years.”
At dissolution, the Progressive Conservatives and Liberals each have 20 seats in the legislature, while the Greens and the People’s Alliance each have three. There are two vacant seats and one Independent.
On Aug. 10, Higgs invited opposition leaders to talks to reach a formal agreement not to trigger an election until September 2022, or no earlier than 30 days after public health officials declare the COVID-19 pandemic over.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 17, 2020.