Kent byelection date to replace Graham expected soon
Premier David Alward called Rothesay byelection within nine days of vacancy
Voters in Kent are waiting for Premier David Alward to announce when a provincial byelection will be held to replace former Liberal MLA Shawn Graham.
Based on earlier statements by Alward and his deputy premier, an announcement is expected any day.
Graham officially resigned on Monday, creating the vacancy, but the former premier announced his intentions on Feb. 22 after he was fined and found in a conflict of interest over the controversial Atcon file.
The Graham government offered the Miramichi-based company three loan guarantees worth $50 million, despite civil servants recommending against the bailout and Atcon subsequently went bankrupt. Graham's father Alan Graham was a director with a Swedish subsidiary of Atcon.
Last May, Alward called the Rothesay byelection nine days after Progressive Conservative MLA Margaret-Ann Blaney quit politics to take a job at Efficiency NB.
At the time, Alward said New Brunswickers should not be without a representative for too long.
Similarly, when Brian Gallant won the Liberal leadership last fall, Deputy Premier Paul Robichaud said the new leader needed a seat as soon as possible.
"I see an advantage for all New Brunswickers to have in the chamber the premier and the leader of the official opposition," he had said.
Robichaud had also offered to not run a Progressive Conservative candidate against Gallant — an offer he now says has expired.
Alward has up to six months to call a byelection.
Four party leaders without seats
Gallant is already campaigning in Kent, hoping the byelection will given him an early entry into the legislature.
"It's a very healthy organization and a very pumped-up team, so all that's left now is to know what the date is," he said.
The Liberals have only 12 seats in the 55-seat legislative assembly.
Alward is the only official party leader with a seat in the legislature.
Green Party Leader David Coon, who was elected last fall, has said he will not run in the Kent byelection.
NDP Leader Dominic Cardy placed third in the Rothesay byelection.
People's Alliance Leader Kris Austin placed third in the riding of Grand Lake-Gagetown in the 2010 provincial election.
There are currently three ridings covering communities in Kent County, but an independent commission has suggested redrawing the boundaries and splitting the communities into two ridings — Kent South and Kent North.