New Brunswick·Election Notebook

Liberals promise to balance budget, while PCs boast about COVID-19 response

New Brunswickers have less than two weeks to determine who will be the province's next leader.

Advance polls will take place Saturday between 10 a.m. and 8 p.m.

New Brunswick is well into the third week of a four-week contest to determine who will govern the province. The election is Sept. 14. (CBC News)


  • Vickers says Liberals can balance budget by 2023
  • Higgs boasts about PCs' COVID-19 response
  • Coon says shift to renewable energy sources 'not that complicated'
  • Where the leaders are today

The New Brunswick election campaign is ticking by quickly, with only 11 days left before voters determine who will be the province's next leader.

Advance polls will take place on Saturday, Sept. 5,  between 10 a.m. and 8 p.m. 

Advancing polling will also take place on Sept. 8.

Here's what party leaders are talking about as they campaign for election Sept. 14.

Vickers says Liberals can balance budget by 2023

Liberal Leader Kevin Vickers told reporters Wednesday he would balance the provincial budget by 2023 — the third year of his mandate if elected.

Campaigning in St. Stephen earlier, Vickers said fiscal responsibility would be a top priority for a Liberal government. He also promised he would not raise taxes on New Brunswickers. 

"There's a path to growing the economy," he said. 

In Saint John, Vickers promised a wholesale pricing policy for liquor purchases to help restaurants and bars bounce back from the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Liberal Leader Kevin Vickers says his party can see a path to growing the New Brunswick economy. (Maria Burgos/CBC)

Vickers said the policy would make the industry more competitive and mirror policies in other jurisdictions.

"There is no question this industry is suffering," he said. "This is a policy the industry has been asking for for sometime now."

Vickers said more than 23,000 New Brunswickers work in the bar and restaurant industry — more than six per cent of the province's workforce.

And many of those jobs are at risk because restaurants are still recovering from closures in the spring and struggling with limited capacity ordered by Public Health, he said. The wholesale pricing policy would be reviewed after one year to see how effective it is.

"The more businesses we can keep open the better," Vickers said. "It is for the economy, and the better it is for the provincial government's bottom line."

Higgs boasts about PCs' COVID-19 response

Progressive Conservative Leader Blaine Higgs focused on education on Wednesday.

He also played up the government's response to the COVID-19 pandemic, saying an early decision to close schools led New Brunswick to the "enviable position" it's in today.

"We've been tested, and I believe our team has shown we understand how to handle challenging situations," he said in Oromocto.

PC Leader Blaine Higgs talked about education, promising to support early childhood educators, school food programs, and a modern curriculum, (Maria Burgos/CBC)

Higgs said a PC government would continue to work on the education system by supporting early childhood educators, school food programs, and a modern curriculum and way of delivering it.

He said his government opened daycares earlier than most other provinces after the COVID-19 lockdown. In the spring budget, the PCs also raised the hourly wages of trained early childhood educators by $0.75 and would raise them again next year and the next two years after that — bringing them to $19 from $16 by 2023.

Higgs also pointed to $200,000 in the spring budget to pilot the first phase of a new school food program. If re-elected, he said, the PCs would commit to making food programs available in every school starting in 2021-22.

He also promised to expand technology in public schools and update civic classes, including the teaching of Indigenous and Black history.

Dominic Cardy, joining Higgs in Oromocto, said the PCs rose to the challenge of the pandemic. (File photo submitted by New Brunswick government)

Dominic Cardy, the education minister seeking re-election in Fredericton West-Hanwell, joined Higgs in praising the PCs' reaction to the pandemic. 

"We've seen that when a challenge was thrown in our direction that no one could have imagined happening ... we've seen a party and a government that's up to the job."

New Brunswick students return to school next week for the first time since schools were ordered closed on March 13 because of the coronavirus. New Brunswick was one of the first provinces to close schools because of the pandemic.

Coon says shift to renewable energy 'not that complicated'

Green Party Leader David Coon said his party would mandate NB Power to use 100 per cent renewable energy sources by 2035.

Speaking in Fredericton, Coon said vastly improved energy efficiency, onshore and offshore wind, solar farms, storage technologies, and long-term purchases of hydropower from Quebec and Labrador, would allow New Brunswick to become 100 per cent renewable in 15 years.

This would also avoid the need to generate power with plutonium or fossil fuels, he said.

"It's not that complicated. We just need the political will to do it."

Green Party Leader David Coon says he would require NB Power to use 100 per cent renewable energy sources by 2035. (Maria Burgos/CBC)

Coon said management at NB Power has been dictating energy policy to PC and Liberal governments for years. As a result, he said, there hasn't been any progress on energy efficiency or renewals.

"What the rest of the world has been embracing has been blocked here in New Brunswick," he said. 

Coon blamed NB Power for wasting $13 million on Joi Scientific, a Florida-based company that claimed to be able to efficiently generate hydrogen gas from seawater to generate electricity on demand, something that would be a major scientific breakthrough. 

"This is grossly irresponsible." 

Coon also committed to providing zero-interest loans for solar panels and energy efficiency measures such as new insulation and windows. 

Former NB Power CEO Gaëtan Thomas posed with Joi Scientific executives Robert Koeneman and Traver Kennedy on a beach in Cape Canaveral, Fla. (Joi Scientific)

"Everyone deserves a roof over their head and that roof should have solar panels on it," Coon said.

He pledged to amend the Electricity Act to break down barriers for municipalities, First Nations or housing developers looking to buy or produce renewable energy for their own use.

Fredericton MP Jenica Atwin made an appearance to show her support for the Green Party.

Where the leaders are today

People's Alliance Leader Kris Austin will be at the Harvey Health Clinic at Harvey Station to make an announcement at 10:30 a.m. about seniors and health care. 

Liberal Leader Kevin Vickers will be making an announcement at 10:30 a.m. in Oromocto.

NDP Leader Mackenzie Thomason will make an announcement at 11 a.m. in Fredericton

Green Party Leader David Coon will unveil the party's election platform at 12 p.m. in Fredericton.

PC Leader Blaine Higgs will be preparing for a Rogers TV leaders debate on Thursday.

Standings at dissolution: PCs 20, Liberals 20, Greens, 3, People's Alliance 3, Independent 1, vacancies 2

For complete coverage | Links to all New Brunswick votes 2020 stories


Elizabeth Fraser


Elizabeth Fraser is a reporter/editor with CBC New Brunswick based in Fredericton. She's originally from Manitoba. Story tip?