11 ridings to watch in the New Brunswick election

New Brunswick’s five major political parties have spent the last 32 days knocking on doors, holding court in coffee shops and trying to convince voters to lend them their support.

The New Brunswick election could be close with 5 parties hoping to gain seats on Monday

New Brunswickers head to the polls on Monday to elect a new government. When the legislature dissolved, there were 24 Liberals, 21 Progressive Conservatives, one Green, one Independent and two vacancies. (CBC)

New Brunswick's five major political parties have spent the last 32 days knocking on doors, holding court in coffee shops and trying to persuade voters to lend them their support.

In what is shaping up to be a close campaign, the election could come down to how a few key ridings swing on Monday night.

When the election was called, the Liberals had 24 seats, compared to 21 PCs, one Green, one independent and two vacant seats.

Here are 11 ridings that you should watch on election night.

Fredericton-Grand Lake

People's Alliance Leader Kris Austin narrowly lost in 2014 in the riding of Fredericton-Grand Lake. He's hoping to win in his third attempt. (Catherine Harrop/CBC)

Four years ago, People's Alliance Leader Kris Austin came within 26 votes of winning a seat.

Now, Austin's party is enjoying a jolt in support across the province and that could be enough to elect the People Alliance's first-ever MLA.

Fredericton-Grand Lake takes in a portion of Fredericton, stretches east along the St. John River, cuts through Grand Lake and includes communities such as Minto and Chipman.

For Austin to win, he will have to defeat Progressive Conservative Pam Lynch, who has held the seat since 2010. In 2014, the Liberals ran a strong campaign and finished just behind Austin.

If the People's Alliance is to make the breakthrough the party is hoping for, Fredericton-Grand Lake is an obvious seat the party must win.

Moncton Centre

Chris Collins is running as an Independent candidate in Moncton Centre. He is a former Liberal MLA and was the legislature's Speaker. (Kate Letterick/CBC News )

There has been considerable amount of attention paid to third parties in the 2018 campaign, but there is also the possibility that New Brunswickers could send an Independent MLA to Fredericton.

Moncton Centre is a race that could complicate the legislature on Monday night.

Chris Collins was first elected as a Liberal MLA in a 2007 byelection and had served as a cabinet minister in the Shawn Graham government. He was the Speaker for the last four years, but he was removed from the Liberal caucus amid workplace harassment allegations.

Collins apologized for some portion of the alleged harassment, admitting that he did at least make comments that were "perceived as inappropriate."

The Liberals are running Rob McKee, a local lawyer and a Moncton city councillor, in the riding.

McKee's family is well-known in Moncton. His father is retired judge Mike McKee, and the Peter McKee Community Food Centre is named after his uncle.

With Collins as the Liberal candidate in 2014, the Grits won the seat comfortably over the Progressive Conservatives.

The Greens also have a high-profile candidate, Jean-Marie Nadeau, running in this riding. A strong Green turnout could also create a four-way fight.

Moncton South

Moncton South Liberal candidate Cathy Rogers is in a tough election battle with the PCs. (CBC)

Moncton South is shaping up to be a hotly contested riding, with Liberal Cathy Rogers, finance minister in the Liberal government, running against Moira Murphy, a local lawyer and wife of Michael Murphy, the former Liberal justice minister, who ran unsuccessfully against Brian Gallant for the Liberal leadership in 2012.

Rogers has been a high-profile cabinet minister in the Gallant government.

Murphy has been running a campaign that has been characterized as brash and aggressive and one marked by big, bold statements.

The Moncton South riding takes in most of the city's urban core, including the downtown, the Victoria Park area, and most neighbourhoods south of Mountain Road.

The race has been defined by some local issues, such as the future of two local schools.

In 2014, Rogers defeated a PC cabinet minister by 656 votes in the riding.

Memramcook-Tantramar

Megan Mitton is the Green Party candidate for Memramcook-Tantramar and is hoping to take the seat from the Liberals. (Megan Mitton/Submitted)

When looking across the province, if the Greens are hoping to add to the provincial caucus, they will be looking to Memramcook-Tantramar as a possible gain.

The Greens are running Megan Mitton against Liberal Bernard LeBlanc, who served as a cabinet minister in the Shawn Graham government and has been elected since 2010.

LeBlanc won the Memramcook-Tantramar riding when it was created in 2014.

LeBlanc's strength is in the Memramcook area. For Mitton to secure the seat for the Greens, she will need to gain significant support in the Sackville area, which includes Mount Allison University.

She may take a page from Green Leader David Coon's 2014 playbook, where he won his seat with a significant focus on students and those in the university community.

Mitton has been campaigning hard in the riding and brought in Green Party heavyweights, such as federal leader Elizabeth May and activist and science broadcaster David Suzuki.

Madawaska Les Lacs-Edmundston

Liberal candidate Francine Landry said she is confident she will get re-elected despite a stiff challenge from former PC cabinet minister Jeannot Volpé. (CBC)

Former PC cabinet minister Jeannot Volpé is hoping to make a political comeback in 2018. He's running in Madawaska Les Lacs-Edmundston, which is largely his former riding.

Volpé entered the New Brunswick legislature in 1995 and left politics in 2010 after serving as the party's interim leader.

Volpé's return isn't coming at an easy time. The Progressive Conservatives only won one seat in francophone New Brunswick in 2014 and the party's unilingual leader, Blaine Higgs, has struggled to win over francophones.

In this race, Volpé is taking on incumbent Liberal Francine Landry, who is serving as the minister of economic development.

Madawaska Les Lacs-Edmundston will be a crucial riding for both the Liberals and Progressive Conservatives, if the parties are hoping to form a government after Monday.

Fredericton South

Green Party Leader David Coon met with students on the University of New Brunswick campus during a provincial election campaign stop. He's hoping to hold his seat in Fredericton South. (Jonathan Collicott/CBC News)

Fredericton South elected Green Party Leader David Coon in 2014 in a four-way race between the Greens, PCs, Liberals and NDP.

In 2018, Coon has incumbency on his side and a higher profile given his ability to routinely ask questions in the legislature and the elevated status of having a seat in the legislature.

The Liberals are not giving up on the seat.

The party is fielding Susan Holt, a high-profile candidate, who has worked for the New Brunswick Business Council before joining the civil service and working for the New Brunswick Jobs Board and then the Office of the Premier.

Fredericton South is one of the most urban ridings in the province, covering the downtown area of Fredericton and reaching across two universities and a college and across the uptown as well.

Coon is hoping to keep his seat in this election and add new members to influence the next government.

If Holt is able to upset the Green leader, it would make the electoral math much easier for the Gallant Liberals to win re-election.

Saint John Harbour

NDP Leader Jennifer McKenzie is hoping to be the first NDP MLA since Elizabeth Weir retired. (Brian Chisholm/CBC)

Saint John Harbour is one of the few ridings in the province that could turn into a legitimate five-way race.

Liberal Ed Doherty, a former cabinet minister, opted not to run again, so there is no incumbent in the race. This riding has been so close that the winner was determined after a recount in both the 2010 and 2014 elections.

The Liberals are hoping Gerry Lowe, a Saint John councillor, can hold the riding for the party, while PC candidate Barry Ogden is trying to return the riding to the Tory fold.

NDP Leader Jennifer McKenzie is trying to wrest control of the riding back to her party. She's running in the urban riding, where former NDP leader Elizabeth Weir served as MLA from 1991 to 2004.

But if that wasn't enough, the Greens have Wayne Dryer back on the ballot. He ran in 2010 for the NDP and 2014 for the Greens.

Meanwhile, the People's Alliance are hoping Margot Brideau can peel away votes from other parties to make an impact in the race.

Shippagan-Lameque-Miscou

Wilfred Roussel won a narrow election in 2014 in the riding of Shippagan-Lamèque-Miscou. The PCs are hoping to win the riding back on Monday. (Jacques Poitras/CBC)

The northeastern riding of Shippagan-Lameque-Miscou was one of the smallest victories for the Liberals in 2014. Wilfred Roussel defeated PC cabinet minister Paul Robichaud by 44 votes.

The PCs attracted Robert Gauvin, the son of a former PC MLA, the late Jean Gauvin, to run in the riding. The Tories were hoping Gauvin would be a star candidate and would bring the riding back to their side.

The Liberals tried to boost Roussel by adding him to cabinet and naming him the minister of agriculture, mines and rural affairs.

There has been a backlash in the Acadian Peninsula region over the employment insurance program and specifically the so-called black hole. The federal government announced a pilot program to give some seasonal workers five more weeks of employment insurance.

The federal Liberals came to New Brunswick days before the election campaign kicked off to make the announcement.

The PCs won only one seat in francophone New Brunswick in 2014, so the party is pinning high hopes on Shippagan-Lameque-Miscou.

Oromocto-Lincoln-Fredericton

Oromocto-Lincoln-Fredericton Progressive Conservative candidate Mary Wilson shows a chart of the 2014 election that shows if there was no vote splitting, the PCs would have defeated the Liberals. (Jacques Poitras/CBC)

This is the first election since 1991 when former PC cabinet minister Jody Carr's name has not been on the ballot in the Oromocto area, and it could create room for other parties to swoop in and win the riding.

Carr tried unsuccessfully to win the Oromocto-Gagetown riding in 1995, but then won the riding in 1999 in the Bernard Lord landslide and held it until deciding to retire before the 2018 campaign.

Now, PC candidate Mary Wilson is trying to hold the riding of Oromocto-Lincoln-Fredericton for the Tories. It won't be an easy march to victory for the PCs. Carr only won the riding by about 500 votes in 2014.

The Liberals have wooed a star candidate, John Fife, a retired army colonel who commanded the 2 RCR battle group in 2009.

Fife's military past may help the Liberals win votes in the Oromocto area given the proximity to Base Gagetown. He is also hoping to win a sizable share of votes in the Fredericton area of the riding.

The riding could also turn into a three-way race with the People's Alliance running Craig Rector, a retired police officer and son of a former Confederation of Regions MLA.

The PCs are worried about the People's Alliance splitting the vote and helping the Liberals to win the seat.

Fredericton North

Fredericton North PC candidate Jill Green is hoping to defeat Liberal Stephen Horsman in a riding where the Greens and People's Alliance are also gaining ground.

Stephen Horsman was the sole Liberal to win in the Fredericton area in 2014, and he has been in a tough battle to win re-election.

When the election started, it looked like Horsman's strongest competition was going to be from PC candidate Jill Green.

But as the campaign wore on, Fredericton North's race became even more interesting because of the potential for the Green and People's Alliance candidates to tap into local support of their party leaders, who are also running in the capital.

When looking at Fredericton North, the question will be whether Horsman can hold onto the Liberal support that he had in 2014 and whether the People's Alliance support can erode PC support.

But the Tories may be looking at whether the late surge in support for the Greens may eat into the Liberal vote.

It's possible that Fredericton North will turn into a four-party race.

Kent North

Green candidate Kevin Arseneau is the high-profile Green candidate running in Kent North. The Greens finished second in the eastern riding in 2014. (Tori Weldon/CBC)

Kent North, which takes in the eastern communities of Rexton, Richibuto, Rogersville and Saint-Louis-de-Kent, is a riding that has suddenly become a curious race to watch.

The riding was won by the Liberals in 2014, but Bertrand LeBlanc decided not to reoffer in this campaign.

Liberal candidate Emery Comeau is trying to hold onto the riding, but the Greens are hoping that Kevin Arseneau may be able to break through.

The Greens placed second in the riding in 2014, so there is a base of support for the party in the riding. Arseneau is a former president of the Acadian society and he had wanted to run for the Liberals in the riding. However, the Liberals did not approve his candidacy, so Arseneau switched to the Greens.

The Greens gave Arseneau's campaign a boost in the final days of the campaign by sending environmentalist David Suzuki to his riding.


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