New Brunswick·Election Notebook

Liberal party releases election platform — with no surprises

Here's what party leaders are saying as they wrap up the third week of campaigning.

Advance polls open Saturday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.

New Brunswick has almost completed its third week of a four-week contest to determine who will govern the province. (CBC News)

Latest

  • Liberal Party platform lays out busy first 30 days
  • Greens vow to support people in arts and culture
  • PCs focus on getting people to move to New Brunswick
  • Where the leaders are today

Saturday marks the first day of advance polls for New Brunswick's provincial election.

Elections New Brunswick has been pushing voters to head to the polls early during the COVID-19 pandemic to reduce congestion on election day, Sept. 14. 

Last month, the organization launched a campaign called Vote Early, Vote Safely to "flatten the election curve."

The next advance polls is on Tuesday between 10 a.m. and 8 p.m. On Sept. 14, voting hours are the same.

Here's what the political party leaders are saying:

Liberal Party platform lays out busy first 30 days

Liberal Leader Kevin Vickers released his party's campaign platform Friday, laying out promises of immediate action on several fronts, including the economy, racism, homelessness, small modular reactors, and the province's relationship with Ottawa.

Moves the party says it would take in its first 30 days in office include launching a public inquiry into systemic racism in law enforcement, starting contract negotiations with nurses, and formally telling the two health authorities they can't close rural hospitals or eliminate ER services.

The platform also says Vickers would continue the COVID-19 all-party cabinet committee that functioned for months under the Blaine Higgs government.

There were mostly no surprises in the platform, which covered many of Vickers's talking points from previous campaign stops across New Brunswick. 

Liberal Leader Kevin Vickers said if he became premier, he would keep the COVI-19 all-party cabinet committee. (Maria Burgos/CBC)

He said his main focus remains growing the economy and balancing the books by 2023 — but not if vulnerable people or businesses would suffer.

"While we continue to respond to the pandemic, we must still focus on the future of our people, our communities and the economy," Vickers said.

Some of the other things the Liberal Party would do:

  • Establish a committee of cabinet to develop and implement policies that consider the unique challenges women face during the pandemic and beyond. 
  • Look at reforming the property tax system to ensure fairness and sustainability.
  • Improve access to daycares and affordability.
  • Increase the budget of the Department of Agriculture, Aquaculture and Fisheries by $5 million to go directly to cost-share programs for valued producers.
  • Adopt a policy that would see a significant property tax reduction for apartment owners who designate a certain percentage of units as affordable housing.
  • Work with First Nations on a strategic plan to establish a framework for positive growth.
  • Create a standing committee on official Languages

Greens vow to support people in arts and culture 

Green Leader David Coon stood up Friday for artists — many of them hit hard by the pandemic — saying his party would make arts and culture a priority.

"They've got to survive in the pandemic to thrive when we come out the other end," he said.  

Speaking at the Memramcook Institute, Coon stressed the importance of protecting cultural, natural and historical assets.

Green Party Leader David Coon said artists and cultural entrepreneurs are important to the New Brunswick economy. (Maria Burgos/CBC)

He said deficits and debt should not stop governments from spending where it matters, and he vowed to create a government department dedicated to the arts, heritage and culture. . 

It's just as important to help artists and cultural entrepreneurs, as it is to help small businesses bounce back from the COVID-19 pandemic, he said.

"The arts are a huge, significant part of our economy."

Coon also promised to keep provincial parks, such as Murray Beach on the Northumberland Strait, in public hands.

PCs focus on getting people to move to New Brunswick

After taking a break from the campaign trail on Thursday to prepare for a TV debate, Progressive Conservative Leader Blaine Higgs hit the ground running on Friday.

The PC party focused on its five-year population growth and retention strategy for the province, which is getting older and losing young people to other provinces. Liberal Leader Kevin Vickers has also promised to boost the New Brunswick population. 

If re-elected, Higgs said, a PC government would try to attract 10,000 newcomers to the province each year, which he also made a target during his state of the province address earlier this year.

PC Leader Blaine Higgs vowed to boost New Brunswick's population. (Maria Burgos/CBC)

Higgs said he wants to see three out of four newcomers stay in New Brunswick and every third person be francophone by 2024.

In the spring budget, the Higgs government allocated $2 million toward attracting francophone newcomers and francophone immigrant entrepreneurs to support the growth of francophone culture and communities in the province.

Higgs said the labour force and employment both grew last year at rates not seen in a decade, and he took credit for the addition of more than 4,000 people to the province.

"That growth was driven almost exclusively by new Canadians."

He said the government had already taken steps toward increasing immigration. It established a new office in India to attract, spent money on training programs for newcomers, and reduced red tape for businesses wanting to employ them.

Higgs said 120,000 jobs will become available in the next 10 years. He did not say what those jobs would be, but it was important to train people to fill them. 

"It is critical we have a workforce that is ready to fill those vacancies," he said. 

Higgs has also promised to work with universities and colleges to improve the number of international students they can enrol,  while also ensuring that programming helps meet labour market needs.

Where the leaders are today

PC Leader Blaine Higgs will be making an announcement at the Hotel-Dieu of St. Joseph's Hospital in Perth-Andover at 11 a.m.

People's Alliance Leader Kris Austin will be making an announcement in Saint John at 11 a.m.  

NDP Leader Mackenzie Thomason will be voting in his riding of Fredericton North at the advanced polls. 

Green Party Leader David Coon will be campaigning in his riding of Fredericton South.

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

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Elizabeth Fraser

Reporter/Editor

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

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