David Coon will head back to house with 2 other Green MLAs
Green Party leader wins again in Fredericton South
Green Party Leader David Coon has done it again, winning Fredericton South a second time — and this time, he won't be a caucus of one in the legislature.
Coon will be joined by Kevin Arseneau, who was elected in Kent North, and Megan Mitton, who squeaked through in Memramcook-Tantramar.
And those three members could play a significant role in the next legislature after the Liberals and Progressive Conservatives finished the night just a seat apart.
Obviously, we're not going to be able to work with anyone who wants to diminish or take away rights of linguistic minorities or doesn't believe climate change [is] a serious issue.- David Coon, Green Party leader
The PCs won 22 seats, the Liberals 21, and the Greens and People's Alliance took three each, giving the province its first minority government since the 1920s.
Liberal Leader Brian Gallant said the the Liberals would continue to govern, but he may need Coon's support in the legislature.
Calling this uncharted territory for New Brunswick, Coon said in an interview that he and his colleagues would take time to figure out how they would align themselves. They'll aim for an "approach that makes the most sense in the context of serving the people of this province and respecting the way that the votes came out."
Will stick to principles
Any decision would have to be rooted in Green Party principles, said Coon, who seemed to rule out co-operation with the People's Alliance.
"Obviously, we're not going to be able to work with anyone who wants to diminish or take away rights of linguistic minorities or doesn't believe climate change [is] a serious issue."
Pressed on whether the party might consider working with the Progressive Conservatives, he said "it's all premature" and a lot of discussion lies ahead.
A big win in Fredericton South
Soon after polls closed Monday night, Coon had a commanding lead in Fredericton South over Liberal Susan Holt, Progressive Conservative Scott Smith, New Democrat Chris Durrant and People's Alliance candidate Bonnie Mae Clark.
Coon received 56.3 per cent of the vote, more than double what went to Holt in second place.
"The people of Fredericton-South voted for hope, not fear," an emotional Coon said after his re-election was certain. "They voted for kindness. They voted for change, not the status quo. And you voted for goodwill, not out of anger."
He promised to make Fredericton South the "greenest, most amazing place to live in this province."
"My commitment as the MLA is to continue to work as hard as I possibly can to serve all the people of this riding, anglophone, Francophone, newcomers, Indigenous," he said.
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Coon stepped into the history books in 2014, when his victory in Fredericton South gave the Green Party its first-ever seat in the New Brunswick Legislature.
He became the only third party member in the house and only the second Green Party candidate to win a seat in a provincial legislature in Canada. Andrew Weaver was elected for the Greens in British Columbia in 2013.
Issues to tackle
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.
But the party was optimistic about making inroads elsewhere. Federal Green Party Leader Elizabeth May visited the province twice to help the provincial campaign, and science broadcaster David Suzuki dropped in on Kent North.
While the Green Party has been a home for environmental activists and ideas for responding to climate change, Coon's platform covered a wide range of policy areas, including education, health and the economy.
Coon has been particularly passionate about a basic income guarantee program to ensure people on income assistance had enough money to meet basic needs.
He also advocated a 10 per cent shift in consumer spending from imported goods and services to local, which Coon contended would create 14,000 jobs and add $1.8 billion to the provincial economy annually.
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With files from Bobbi-Jean MacKinnon