New Brunswick voters head to polls today, Report
New Brunswick voters head to polls today, Report

New Brunswick voters head to polls today, Report

New Brunswickers are heading to the polls today to cast their ballots in an election where Progressive Conservative Leader David Alward is trying to avoid becoming the second consecutive one-term government.

If David Alward’s Conservatives are ousted by Brian Gallant’s Liberals — the result polls have been predicting — voters will have dispensed with two back-to-back one-term governments for the first time in New Brunswick history.

Indeed, Mr. Alward’s defeat of Shawn Graham’s Liberal government in 2010 was the only other time a New Brunswick administration became a one-term wonder.

Consider the crushing of the NDP government in Nova Scotia last year, again after one term, and it’s fair to say two provinces with similar problems — slow economic growth, aging demographics, youth going West, falling population trend and big budget deficits — have become hard places to be re-elected if you can’t demonstrate a clear and convincing plan to turn things around.

New Brunswickers and Nova Scotians have been struggling with many aspects of change. But changing governments more frequently isn’t one of them.

If Mr. Alward bucks this trend, it will also be one for the history books. The Liberals have been far ahead in polling, as much as 19 percentage points over the PCs.

However, a Corporate Research Associates survey released Friday found the Liberal lead had shrunk to nine points, with support from 45 per cent of decided voters, compared with 36 per cent for the Conservatives and 11 per cent for the NDP. CRA chief executive Don Mills said the PCs had gained support from the NDP and among the 35-54 age group most concerned about economic issues.

Conservatives can hope this is a sign their focus on the economy and resource development — promoting hydraulic fracturing and a pipeline from the West — finally paid off. They could also take heart when Mr. Gallant, in a CBC interview last week, flubbed figures related to his proposal to create two new upper-income tax brackets and had to ask for a re-take. And NDP leader Dominic Cardy damaged himself in the final leader’s debate by failing to apologize for a candidate’s stupid use of a tweeted video of Nazi leaders redubbed to parody Liberals. Yet all this still left Mr. Alward with a big hill to climb in a very few days.

The campaign produced no winning answers on the province’s $387-million deficit. Voters were dismayed that Mr. Alward failed to balance the budget, as promised. But Mr. Gallant is proposing to take six more years to do that, while spending $900 million on infrastructure as a stimulus measure, a big gamble.

Whoever wins would be wise to stimulate growth by pursuing a common economic area, shorn of trade and regulatory barriers, with Nova Scotia. We already share many problems. Sharing solutions would be progress.


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