Gallant Liberals ousted after losing confidence vote in New Brunswick Legislature
Progressive Conservative leader Blaine Higgs to be sworn in as new premier
Brian Gallant and his Liberal government have fallen after losing a confidence vote in the legislature Friday morning, opening the door for Blaine Higgs’s Progressive Conservatives to assume a governing role in the province.
The Liberal throne speech was defeated 25-23.
Although the three Green MLAS, including Memramcook-tantramar MLA Megan Mitton, made good on their announcement earlier in the week that they would back the Gallant government, the Progressive Conservatives came out on top of the vote, propped up by support from the three People’s Alliance MLAS.
Mitton issued a letter to constituents in the Memramcook-tantramar riding last Wednesday to explain her support for the Liberal throne speech.
“My decision was made by examining the content of the throne speech and ignoring New Brunswick Premier Brian Gallant makes a presentation Friday morning to end debate on the throne speech, which was delivered Oct. 23 by Lt.-gov. Jocelyne Roy Vienneau. Gallant’s Liberals lost a confidence vote following the speech, meaning Progressive Conservative leader Blaine Higgs will be sworn in as New Brunswick’s new premier in the coming weeks.
the speculation surrounding the minority government in our legislature,” she said in the letter. “In other words, I considered the speech on its merits and decided not to engage in political games.
“As a citizen, as a mother, I am scared about climate change, fracking, and cuts to services. And as an MLA and someone who cares deeply about taking care of New Brunswickers, I was pleased to see positive things in the platform, such as hiring more nurse practitioners and midwives, increasing supports for seniors, improving the local food strategy, and expanding renewable energy and increasing energy efficiency for buildings.”
The political landscape in New Brunswick had been in turmoil since the Sept. 24 provincial election, which saw the Progressive Conservatives take 22 seats and the Liberals 21. The Green Party and the People’s Alliance each claimed three seats. To form a majority government, a party must secure 25 of the 49 available seats. Although the PCS took more seats in September’s election, the Liberals won the most votes overall.
After a stalemate as to who would be appointed Speaker of the legislative assembly, with no party wanting to lose a vote in the legislature, Daniel Guitard, Liberal MLA for Restigouche-chaleur, was elected to the role on Oct. 23.
Friday morning’s proceedings in the legislature got underway with Gallant making a speech to end debate on the throne speech, delivered on Oct. 23 by Lt.-gov. Jocelyne Roy Vienneau.
Noting the importance one person can make, presumably in a last-ditch effort to gain support of at least one PC or People’s Alliance MLA, Gallant closed the speech with a quote from Margaret Mead: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”
After losing Friday’s vote, Gallant visited Government House to inform Roy Vienneau his government had lost the confidence of the house. While Gallant could have asked her to call a new election, she had already indicated that would not be in the best interest of the province. Gallant also stated he would not do so, as it would go against the message delivered by voters on election night.
“In the end, Mr. Speaker, this government, this group of individuals behind me, will respect the decision of this legislature, just as we respect the decision of the people,” he said in Friday morning’s speech.