Updated: Nov 26, 2020
New Brunswick's Progressive Conservative government won re-election to form a majority Monday night under the leadership of Premier Blaine Higgs. This victory breaks the streak of 4 consecutive single term governments and is also the first provincial election to be formed amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Liberal leader of the province, Kevin Vickers (best known for shooting the gunman who attacked Parliament hill in 2014), has stepped down after the election results came in, with his party remaining the Offical Opposition.
"I know that many of you are disappointed with the result, and I take full responsibility for it, as a result. I will be resigning as leader of the Liberal Party of New Brunswick", he said. His move to step down leaves the New Brunswick branch of the Liberals without a leader.
The PCs' victory emerged out of a snap election called by the Premier, who previously held a minority government with only 20 seats. After the election, Higgs' government had 27 of the province's 49 seats, with record numbers voting in the advance polls.
Many accredited the PC's win to the party's handling of the COVID-19 outbreak in New Brunswick. There are currently three active cases in the province, and no new cases or hospitalizations. Premier Higgs has been integral in encouraging COVID-19 restrictions.
While the party secured 27 seats (1 more than necessary to ensure a majority government), they only achieved 39.7% of the popular vote, the lowest of any majority government in New Brunswick's history.
As usual in the province's voting history, the Liberals won an overwhelming majority of the Francophone vote, whereas the PCs quickly claimed the Anglophone vote.
The PCs won majority-anglophone ridings by 29 points, with 49% of the vote. On the other hand, the Liberals dominated the francophone vote by 41 points, with 62% of the vote.
Now that the PC government has majority power, they will pass bills without support from the other parties (such as the People's Alliance, reduced to 2 seats). The province can expect further policies on abortion and strong leadership as the COVID-19 pandemic continues.
Premier Higgs has also stated that he is looking forward to his government's ability to govern effectively, "I want to avoid the House's games. I want to get on a program to bring stability to our province. I want an economic program that doesn't get stalled because of politics".
On a final note, there is now a record number of women holding office in New Brunswick history, with 14 women (9 of whom are PC) having seats in the legislature. Progressive Conservative Dorothy Shephard was excited about the prospects for the upcoming term, stating, "You know, statistics say that when 22 percent of your parliament or legislature is represented by women, policies begin to change and shift."
In many ways, this was a historic year for New Brunswick's government, with many exciting outcomes ahead for the province.