Election speculation in New Brunswick grows louder as Higgs muses about snap vote

FREDERICTON — New Brunswick Premier Blaine Higgs is dangling the prospect that he could send the province to the polls this fall, a year ahead of schedule, citing the risk of "instability and stagnation" if the legislature resumes sitting next month.

Higgs says in an emailed statement that he is worried "political drama" could overshadow elected officials' job of helping New Brunswickers when the new session of the legislature opens Oct. 17.

The Progressive Conservative government has faced internal revolt in recent months, following changes made to the province's policy on sexual orientation and gender identity in schools.

Two ministers — Trevor Holder who held the labour portfolio and Dorothy Shephard in social development — quit earlier this year, citing Higgs' leadership style and the changes made to the gender identity policy.

After six Tory members of the legislative assembly voted with the Opposition in June to call for an external review of the policy, the premier dropped dissenters from cabinet and named five new ministers.

J.P. Lewis, political science professor at the University of New Brunswick, Saint John, says speculation about an election has been swirling for months, but there might be more reason now for Higgs to want to strengthen his position and call an election ahead of the October 2024 date specified in provincial law.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 27, 2023.

The Canadian Press