Attn: Hon Blaine Higgs
I wish to take this opportunity to express my concerns regarding recent media reports suggesting you may be considering calling a general election. I want you to know as I have repeatedly publicly expressed that our Party has no intention of causing an election this current year. I give you my word.
I strongly believe that this is not the time for an election. Our economy is in crisis and the pandemic is ongoing. This is a time for everyone to be focused on these two critical priorities for our Province. We are witnessing the single largest economic downturn in our Country’s and Province’ s history. Calling an election now would simply be irresponsible.
New Brunswick businesses are opening at a faster rate than the other Provinces but we know many will not survive and those that are opened only 24% are operating with normal sales volume. As federal programs wind down their challenges will not abate.
This past two weeks, we have witnessed significant layoffs and service reductions here in New Brunswick. Air Canada, Westjet, Atlantic Lottery Corporation, Mount Allison University, and Organigram are just a few examples. While in Ireland I learned that bold aggressive strategies with airline companies are required to ensure renewal and introduction of new flights. I personally travelled to Montreal and Calgary to meet with Air Canada and Westjet’s CEOs and was successful lobbying them for new flights. This is a time for action, not reticence. Airlines will be key to our economic recovery.
Our ideologies differ, you are Conservative, I am a Liberal. But this is not a time for partisanship. I encourage strategic government investment in our economy. I ask you to reach out to our mutual friend, Premier Jason Kenny of Alberta, who just announced a bold major multi-faceted economic recovery plan focused on getting people back to work, building strategic infrastructure and diversifying Alberta’s economy. We need such a plan here in New Brunswick now.
Together with you and other political leaders, I agreed to set politics aside and join the Covid 19 Cabinet Committee. I commend your work and that of Dr. Russell and the team at Public Health for helping New Brunswick flatten the curve and reduce the spread of the virus throughout our province. As Dr. Russell and you have pointed out on numerous occasions, we are not out of the woods yet and we must remain vigilant in taking measures to reduce the risk of future outbreaks. The pandemic and the economy must be our focus not a general election.
Notwithstanding this fact, I ask you to keep your commitment to holding bi-elections for the two seats where voters have been unrepresented in the Legislature for far too long. It is unprecedented that the people of St. Croix and Shediac Bay-Dieppe have had to go so long without representation in the Legislative Assembly.
These two bi-elections would be a measured approach to our present circumstance in New Brunswick and afford Ms. Poffenroth and her team at Elections NB an opportunity to learn to better manage the risk for a province-wide election at a more opportune and safer time. There is no real need to call an immediate bi-election for Sussex-Fundy-St. Martins and perhaps, if he were asked, Mr. Bruce Northrup would agree to stay on for several more months as a sense of duty to his Province.
I wish to reiterate my promise to you that the Liberal Party will not cause an election this year given the pandemic and the required focus on the recovery of our economy.
Again, I believe our key focus should be on economic recovery. I urge you to make that a priority for your government and set aside thoughts of province-wide election that people don’t want and don’t need.
Leader of the New Brunswick Liberal Party