New Brunswick

N.B. to fix election dates

The New Brunswick government has announced the next provincial election will be held Sept. 27, 2010, and it's introduced a bill that would set fixed election dates every four years.

The New Brunswick government has announced the next provincial election will be held Sept. 27, 2010, and it's introduced a bill that would set fixed election dates every four years.

Governments across Canada, including the federal government,are passing similar laws, and New Brunswick house leader Stuart Jamieson, who announcedthe amendment to the Legislative Assembly Act in the legislature Tuesday,said both Liberals and Conservatives support the idea in this province.

"It was thought by both parties in the legislature and by other provinces that it would be better to remove the political nuances and give everybody a fair and even playing field," Jamieson said.

The current system allows the government to call an election when it believes it has an advantage, perhaps right after making a number of spending announcements.

It's not clearwhether the proposed bill would have prevented former Conservative premier Bernard Lord from calling an early election last summer, when defections, expulsions and resignations meant he could no longercontrol the legislature.

Paul Robichaud, a Conservative MLA who served in Lord's government,said it's a good question.

"It is probably a possibility. What will be the scenario if the election would have been on a fixed date? I don't know."

The bill would still allowthe lieutenant-governorto order an early election if a minority government is defeated on a confidence vote.

Governments would retain the power tochoosehow long the election campaign lasts,between 28 days and 38 days.

The federal government passed earlier this month to fix federal election dates. British Columbia, Ontario, Prince Edward Island, and Newfoundland andLabrador allhave fixed election dates as does the Northwest Territories. The subject is being considered in other provinces.

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