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Looking ahead to the September 22 provincial election in New Brunswick

A provincial election is set to take place in New Brunswick on September 22, 2014.

The province is currently governed by Progressive Conservative Premier David Alward (his party holds 41 seats in the 55 seat Legislature), while the Liberals under Brian Gallant have 13 seats. Dominic Cardy and the New Democrats are without a seat.

Globe and Mail reporter Jane Taber comments, “A change in government is likely next fall. Expect Premier David Alward and his Progressive Conservatives, who won a majority in October, 2010, to be replaced by the Liberals and their 31-year-old rookie leader, Brian Gallant. New Brunswick is hurting economically – its young people are fleeing west – and it is pushing controversial policies, such as exploration for shale gas (fracking), in an attempt to boost the economy.”

Brian MacLeod also recently wrote in the Sudbury Star, “Halifax-based Corporate Research Associates says polls suggest if elections were held now, the Liberals would win all four provinces. In New Brunswick, where the Progressive Conservative government of David Alward is facing an election in the fall, his party’s popularity has sunk to just 25%.”

Implications for a moratorium on fracking?

CBC has reported, “Liberal leader Brian Gallant, who is currently ahead in the polls, has promised a moratorium on shale gas exploration and development. However, during a protest in the fall of 2013 he refused to be specific about how long such a moratorium would last, saying he is waiting for two major studies on shale gas. ‘There’s no number’, Gallant said at that time. ‘It’s about information’.”

In terms of the other parties, prior to the ‘free vote’ in the Legislature in 2011 on a fracking moratorium, “The Green Party of New Brunswick, the New Brunswick New Democrats and the People’s Alliance of New Brunswick issued a joint call for the government to put an immediate halt to shale gas development in New Brunswick.”

Furthermore, in October 2013, NDP Leader Dominic Cardy promised, “The day a New Democrat government is sworn in, we will issue a ministerial letter, suspending the licenses of the shale gas companies. That would lead to discussions and possible legal proceedings, but the result would be clear: the shale gas companies would have to stop operations, immediately.” Unfortunately, he also said at that time, “Any blockade – any acts of violence by opponents to shale gas – must end. Not because one side or the other on the shale gas debate is right, but because the law is the law.”

That said, blogger Graeme Decarie has commented, “There’s no point in discussing policies because it doesn’t matter a damn what policy either the Liberals or the Conservatives have. …Mr. Irving has been running the economy of this province throughout the Alward years. He will also run them throughout any term that Gallant might serve. …That leaves us with two parties, the NDP and Greens. …For this election, at least, there are no other parties to choose from. They are the only parties that can be trusted to deal with New Brunswick’s central problems.”

It should be an interesting nine month period leading up to the election. In the last few weeks, two new Facebook pages have emerged: Dump Alward and Take Back New Brunswick.

Further reading
New Brunswick government rejects moratorium on fracking

Barlow tells Alward government to end its ‘love affair’ with fracking in New Brunswick

Fredericton chapter calls for provincial fracking moratorium