New Brunswick

Liberal Dominic LeBlanc seeks 6th term in Beausejour

When Stephen Harper’s Conservative wave swept across New Brunswick in 2011, Beausejour was the only riding in the province to stick with the Liberals.

Conservative, NDP and Greens are hoping to defeat incumbent Liberal candidate Dominic LeBlanc

There are four candidates vying for the riding of Beausejour. Conservative Ann Bastarache, NDP candidate Hélène Boudreau, Liberal candidate Dominic LeBlanc and Green candidate Kevin King. (Ann Bastarache/Facebook, Helene Boudreau/Facebook, CBC, Kevin King/Facebook)

When Stephen Harper's Conservative wave swept across New Brunswick in 2011, Beausejour was the only riding in the province to stick with the Liberals.

Four years later, Conservative support is slipping nationally and Liberal Dominic LeBlanc is seeking his sixth election victory since he first won the southeastern New Brunswick riding in 2000.

Liberal candidates Dominic LeBlanc and Ginette Petitpas Taylor were joined on the campaign trail by former prime minister Jean Chretien (CBC)
The high-profile Liberal has lured Justin Trudeau to the riding to announce the party would scrap the controversial changes to the Employment Insurance program made by Stephen Harper's government.

He also had former prime minister Jean Chretien make a cameo appearance on the campaign trail.

As polls continue to suggest the Liberals are gaining momentum in the closing days of the campaign, LeBlanc said he is hoping he can capitalize on his experience in Parliament to advance issues important to the riding.

"I think if Justin Trudeau becomes prime minister, I will be in a position to do some very, very worthy things for the people of this riding," LeBlanc said.

The four Beausejour candidates participated in a roundtable discussion on Thursday on Information Morning Moncton.

The candidates were given a chance to offer their views on a variety of issues ranging from the economy, the use of temporary foreign workers and improving democracy.

As the incumbent, LeBlanc became a target, especially from his Conservative rival.

With the lack of jobs being a major concern in the riding, Conservative Ann Bastarache said it might be time to break the tradition of voting Liberal in order to improve the area's economy.

"It was clear to me that we need time for change. What I want to do, I want to work with the people, I want the change as well," she said.

NDP candidate Hélène Boudreau says she's trying to find ways to spur on job creation in riding. (Radio-Canada)
"We have been under the leadership of the Liberal Party for 86 years, 15 of them from Dominic LeBlanc."

While LeBlanc was re-elected four years ago, he saw his share of the vote dwindle to 39 per cent, the lowest that he has ever secured since losing his first race in 1997.

When LeBlanc was defeated in 1997, the riding flipped to the NDP.

In this campaign, the NDP is turning to Hélène Boudreau, a former Dieppe city councillor who finished in second place in the city's 2012 mayor's race.

Boudreau said she's hoping to use her community and volunteer experience to help address issues, such as jobs and modernizing traditional industries, such as agriculture and fisheries.

"I truly believe I am the candidate to represent Beausejour. It has a wide range of people. I think that we have various issues that we can tackle," she said.

Economic issues

The economic situation facing workers in the riding, particularly those in seasonal industries, drew a significant amount of attention as the four candidates trying to differentiate their views on how to get people working in the area.

Using fish plants and some value-added forestry businesses as examples, LeBlanc said it is critical to find ways to work with employers in seasonal industries to increase the number of months they are in business each year.

Each of the Beausejour candidates say want to see seasonal industries expand. (CBC)
"Fish plants, 15 to 20 years ago they worked two or three months a year, now they are working seven, eight nine months a year," he said.

"It is a big difference for the workers and the businesses."

The NDP's Boudreau echoed LeBlanc's desire to extend seasonal industries and said she'd like to work with companies, in the agriculture, fisheries and tourism sectors, to help them keep working longer.

"It is innovation, it is research and it is development," she said.

Green Party candidate Kevin King said he believes that investment in new technology, and particularly companies in the renewable sector, is important for southeastern New Brunswick.

He said his party's position on growing the economy is rooted in its concern for the environment.

"I see the environment first, as opposed to everybody else here who puts the economy first," King said.

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