Election of second-term government in New Brunswick a sign voters want stability: Higgs
OTTAWA -- For the first time since 2003, the New Brunswick electorate voted in a second-term government, which Premier Blaine Higgs says is a sign that residents want stability in a time of disarray.
In an interview with CTV's Power Play, Higgs said the key issue for voters in this election was who could best project a steady path forward amid the COVID-19 pandemic without opposition interference.
"I'm excited because now people can look at New Brunswick and say, 'you know, we have a place to invest, we have a place that has stability for the next four years. We have a foundation to build on that will be stronger,'"he told host Evan Solomon on Tuesday.
Higgs ran up against Liberal resistance in mid-August when he proposed a multi-party agreement that would keep his government in power until 2022. Liberal Leader Kevin Vickers was strongly opposed to the pitch, which ultimately prompted the snap election.
The Progressive Conservatives won 27 of the 49 seats in the legislature, bringing them to a majority, while the Liberals picked up 17, the Green Party secured three and the People's Alliance, two.
"I think what [voters] saw as well, New Brunswick really can work well together if we have common goals. I tried to put that forward five weeks ago with the other parties and the opposition walked out and so I was really left with little choice," said Higgs.
As the first election campaign in this pandemic, Higgs said New Brunswick can be seen as an example of how to do it safely for those provinces that might be heading toward a similar fate.
"[Democracy] is something we have to move forward on regardless of the situation but do it safely and I think we demonstrated that," he said. "We weren’t doing any door-knocking, I know some other parties were. We were adhering to the public health rules and regulations. We had very small gatherings."
During the federal Liberals' cabinet retreat on Tuesday, Intergovernmental Affairs Minister and representative for the New Brunswick riding of Beauséjour, Dominic LeBlanc, said he wasn't surprised by the election outcome.
"We should acknowledge the Higgs government handled the COVID-19 pandemic circumstances in New Brunswick well," he said. "The Government of Canada wants to be a partner with the Government of New Brunswick. So now that Mr. Higgs has a four-year runway in front of him, hopefully he’ll be as enthusiastic as we will be to work together," he said.