New Brunswick

Eyes on the Greens as talks begin with Liberals, PCs

The Green Party has begun talks about an agreement with both New Brunswick political parties hoping to form government, but its leader says they are “nowhere near” negotiations or discussing platform planks.

Both the Liberals and PCs are courting the Green Party’s 3 elected members

Green Party Leader David Coon spoke to reporters after his discussion Tuesday with the Liberals. (CBC)

The Green Party has begun talks about an agreement with both New Brunswick political parties hoping to form government, but its leader says they are "nowhere near" negotiations or discussing platform planks.

David Coon told reporters the party had a "good discussion" with the Brian Gallant Liberals on Tuesday morning and will be continuing the dialogue. The party was set to speak with the Progressive Conservatives again later in the day after opening talks Monday.

Coon did not discuss which is the more favourable suitor.

"There's no haste in getting into discussions around substance like that at this point," he said.

"We're at the beginning of a dialogue with both Liberals and Conservatives, and my focus is to ensure we have a stable legislative assembly that is a kind of collaborative legislature that New Brunswickers voted for, where all parties co-operate to address some of the major challenges we've got.

Progressive Conservative Leader Blaine Higgs is exploring a possible partnership with the Green Party. He said the agreement between the B.C. NDP and Greens could serve as a template. (James West/Canadian Press)

Both Premier Brian Gallant and PC Leader Blaine Higgs expressed a desire for more collaboration in the New Brunswick legislature, Coon said.

Choosing partners

The Greens, with three seats, are being courted by the Liberals and Progressive Conservatives after both failed to win the 25 seats needed for a majority government in last week's election.

The PCs hold 22 seats and the Liberals 21, but Gallant intends to remain in power and will attempt to form government. He will have first crack at winning a confidence vote. If that fails, Higgs will take a shot.

The People's Alliance also has three seats and has already offered to support a Tory-led government bill by bill for 18 months. Higgs said there was no agreement with the Alliance, noting his party ruled out any formal deals with the smaller parties.

That position appeared to change when the PC leader told reporters this week that he reviewed a copy of the NDP-Green agreement struck to form government in British Columbia last year. He called it a "template" for talks with the Greens.

Higgs offered a brief statement on the discussions.

"The discussions with Mr. Coon went very well, and I look forward to continuing discussions," the emailed statement read.

The Liberals have ruled out any arrangement with the Alliance.

The party also offered a short statement on the talks.

"Today, we had good discussions with Green Party Leader David Coon and his team about the recently elected minority legislature. As a result, we agreed to have further discussions."

Coon spoke with B.C. Green leader

B.C. Green Party Leader Andrew Weaver said Coon should deal with the PCs. (Chad Hipolito/The Canadian Press)

B.C. Green Leader Andrew Weaver has said his New Brunswick counterpart should deal with the Tories. Coon said he spoke with Weaver after the election and said that partnership is working well.

But the talks in this province have to grounded in the context of New Brunswick and the interests of its citizens.

He said no deadline is associated with the talks, adding the B.C. deal took about two weeks to finalize.

Gallant said the legislature would be called no later than Oct. 23.