Alward faces tough challenges after N.B. win
Last Updated: Tuesday, September 28, 2010 | 6:31 PM ET
PC Leader David Alward speaks to a crowd of supporters after winning enough seats to form a majority government on Monday night. (CBC)New Brunswick premier-designate David Alward is waking up with a large majority government after Monday night's election and an enormous debt and deficit to erase.
Alward cruised to a stunning victory, electing 42 MLAs compared to 13 Liberals but his government is now tasked with following through with their long list of spending promises and tackling the $749-million deficit and climbing debt.
Outgoing Liberal premier Shawn Graham offered a gracious concession speech on Monday from his headquarters in Rexton. But he left his successor a sombre reminder.
"I do wish Mr. Alward well. You know he has a difficult job ahead of him," Graham said.
The Progressive Conservatives made some very pricey commitments during the election campaign.
'We brought forward a strategy on how we will control spending of government and still be able to focus on highest priorities for New Brunswickers.'— N.B. Premier-designate David Alward
The Tories have promised to balance the budget in four years. But at the same time permanently freeze property tax assessments for seniors and freeze NB Power rates for three years.
Alward told CBC News on Monday night that he can move toward a balanced budget while keeping those promises.
"We brought forward a strategy on how we will control spending of government and still be able to focus on highest priorities for New Brunswickers," Alward said.
Alward aims to be sworn in on Oct. 12, that's when the tough choices will begin.
The Tory leader has promised to slice the number of cabinet ministers from 20 plus the premier to 15 cabinet ministers plus the premier.
The PCs have included a "10 by 10" checklist of promises that will be completed by the end of 2010.
- Oct. 12: Swear in a new cabinet of 15 ministers, plus the premier.
- Oct. 15: Appoint a new energy commission.
- Oct. 22: Create a premier's citizen engagement unit.
- Oct. 28: Form a finance minister's task force on pensions.
- Nov. 4: Start a review of the $2,500 cap on financial awards for soft-tissue injuries in auto accidents.
- Nov. 12: Announce new legislative committees and allow third parties to participate.
- Nov. 19: Hold forestry summit.
- Nov. 22: Start pre-budget consultation.
- Nov. 23: Deliver the throne speech.
- Dec. 1: Table amendments to the Property Tax Act to freeze seniors' assessments and cap others for two years.
Liberal Leader Shawn Graham accepts defeat in Monday's election at his campaign headquarters in Rexton, N.B. Graham said he did not anticipate staying on as the party's leader. (CBC)Graham told his crowd of supporters that he has no plans to run as leader in the next provincial election, saying the party would need to go through a renewal period.
"It's safe to say as leader of the party tonight, I've enjoyed every moment, but there will be renewal coming forward," Graham said.
The small caucus leaves a thin field of potential leaders.
Victor Boudreau, the outgoing Business New Brunswick minister, was re-elected in Shediac-Cap-Pelé and Donald Arseneault, the outgoing minister of post-secondary Education, Training and Labour was re-elected in Dalhousie-Restigouche East.
Both are considered potential replacements for Graham either on an interim basis or possible future leadership candidates.
Meanwhile, the NDP failed in its effort to elect its leader as Roger Duguay went down to defeat in the northeastern riding of Tracadie-Sheila.
Two new parties, the Greens and the People's Alliance, also fell far short of their own breakthroughs.