New Brunswick Premier Calls for Election Amid Pandemic

August 17, 2020 Updated: August 17, 2020

Premier Blaine Higgs has called an election in New Brunswick for Sept. 14, making it only province so far to go to the polls since the COVID-19 pandemic hit.

Citing the need for stability during the COVID-19 pandemic, Higgs had asked the leaders of the four other parties to put off forcing an early election until the pandemic is over, or until the scheduled date in October 2022.

Negotiations between the parties failed to come to an agreement last week.  Higgs proposed a minority government with majority power without an official opposition, but New Brunswick Liberal Leader Kevin Vickers rejected that.

Now, Higgs will seek re-election on Sept. 14, after asking Lt-Gov. Brenda Murphy Monday at Government House in Fredericton to dissolve the legislature.

Vickers wrote to Higgs in July expressing his concerns about having an election during a pandemic and proposed waiting until March 2021 before going to the polls. A month later Higgs sought Vickers’ agreement for his proposal, but Vickers said it was unacceptable to him as leader of the Liberal Party and to his caucus.

Vickers said his caucus was only given an hour to review Higgs’s proposal and come back with suggestions. He also said Higgs threatened that if an agreement wasn’t made by the end of the day, an election would be called.

Higgs said at a press conference on Aug. 14 that he was “very disappointed” at how things turned out because there were some “very meaningful discussions” with two or three of the other parties that he thought were going to be fruitful.

“I said over and over again that for me it was, how do we get direction for our province that gets tweaked, not thrown out?” he said.

If Higgs wins, he will become the first New Brunswick premier to win re-election since Bernard Lord in 2003.