N.B. political parties working fast to get candidates before election deadline
Some candidates being appointed after accelerated vetting process
The provincial Liberals have been forced to accelerate their process for choosing candidates for the Sept. 14 provincial election, invoking special rules to get names on the ballots in all 49 ridings.
Some candidates are being appointed without nominating conventions while others are going through an accelerated vetting process.
The Greens and the People's Alliance are also hurrying to get candidates approved ahead of the Aug. 28 deadline set by the Elections Act. By that point, all names must be submitted to Elections New Brunswick.
Liberal campaign co-chair and Moncton Centre candidate Rob McKee said the party has invoked an "electoral urgency rule" in its constitution.
"Since Blaine Higgs has forced this election on New Brunswickers … the leader is able to appoint candidates without the regular green-light process," he said.
Leader Kevin Vickers used the appointment power to declare all the Liberal incumbents running again, as well as former PC-turned-independent Robert Gauvin, as candidates.
On the trail with new candidates
Earlier this week Vickers campaigned in Sussex-Fundy-St. Martins with candidate Cully Robinson and then appeared in the Saint John area with candidates Alice McKim, Jason Hickey and Sharon Teare.
None of them is listed on the Liberal Party website yet, and McKee wasn't able to say for sure how they were chosen.
McKee said for new candidates, the goal is to follow the normal nomination process, but at faster speed.
"We are allowing an accelerated process," he said.
Candidates aren't required to collect 25 signatures from party members and the "green-light" process, a vetting process that looks into their backgrounds, is shorter.
In some cases, even new candidates may get to bypass that process. "It could be done by appointment to speed up the process," he said. "We're already halfway through week one of a four-week campaign."
PCs following mostly normal process
The Progressive Conservatives kicked off a series of nominating conventions Aug. 8 and party executive director Andrea Johnson said they'll be held for all 49 ridings by the Aug. 28 deadline. "We're not appointing anyone," she said.
Because of that deadline next Friday, the party has had to waive the 21-day notice it usually gives to party members for a convention. Other than that, and COVID-19 precautions, the process is the same as normal.
The party had 31 candidates chosen or acclaimed as of Thursday afternoon, with a 32nd to be nominated Thursday night.
For the Green Party, riding associations are "affirming" candidates and then passing the names on to the provincial council for approval.
No conventions for Greens, People's Alliance
In ridings where the party doesn't have an active association, candidates are confirmed by the provincial council directly.
As a relatively new party, the Greens don't have organizations in every riding, and even in the last election, nominating conventions didn't happen for all candidates.
This time there are none at all.
"It's the first snap election that as a party that we've ever participated in," Coon said. "We developed as a party with rules that were designed for fixed election dates, so we're discovering they don't lend themselves well to snap elections."
People's Alliance spokesperson Sterling Wright said the party had 22 candidates as of Thursday afternoon.
The party is appointing all its candidates without conventions, even in ridings where more than one person wants to run. In those cases, party officials are deciding which person gets to be on the ballot.
NDP campaign communications director Nathan Davis said interim leader Mackenzie Thomason has been given the authority to appoint all candidates.
In ridings where two or more people want to run for the NDP, one person will be chosen and the others will be encouraged to run in adjacent ridings.