New Brunswick

Progressive Conservative MLAs ready to get to work

Progressive Conservative candidates who won Monday's election are waiting for an update from their leader, Blaine Higgs, after he meets Thursday morning with the lieutenant-governor.

PC Leader Blaine Higgs to meet with lieutenant-governor on Thursday

Dorothy Shepherd says she's ready to get back to work after being elected a third time in the riding of Saint John-Lancaster. (Brian Chisholm/CBC)

Progressive Conservative candidates who won Monday's election are waiting for an update from party leader Blaine Higgs after he meets Thursday morning with the lieutenant-governor.

But some say it's not stopping them from doing their job. 

"I'm good to go," Dorothy Shephard said Wednesday at her constituency office in the riding of Saint John-Lancaster.

"It will be another day or two before I'm proclaimed by Elections NB but I've been notified by the legislature that we can begin working as soon as possible."

Higgs did not agree to be interviewed Wednesday.

Elected for the third time, Shephard got 3,001 votes, according to unofficial results posted on the Elections New Brunswick website.

Her nearest competitor, Liberal candidate Kathleen Riley-Karamanos, got 1,727 votes.

"I won by a healthy margin," Shephard said. "It won't be contested."

Frustrated voters

In the riding of Saint Croix, winning PC candidate Greg Thompson said he's fielding calls from frustrated voters.

"They're puzzled by the whole thing," he said.

Progressive Conservative MLA Greg Thompson, who won in the riding of Saint Croix, said he doesn't think any of his fellow caucus members would accept the Speaker's position that he rejected on Tuesday when it was proposed by former Liberal MLA Jack Keir. (CBC)

Thompson also confirmed Wednesday that he had been contacted by former Liberal MLA Jack Keir.

"Jack called me yesterday morning around 10 o'clock and asked me whether I'd be interested in being Speaker," said Thompson.

"My answer was no, of course."

Extra money

It may have been tempting. The Speaker's job comes with extra money, similar to a cabinet minister.

In addition to his MLA's annual salary of $84,674, former Speaker Chris Collins earned $52,415 for ministerial and other duties.

That's according to the government's unaudited supplementary employee lists from 2017. 

It also lists $31,914 for his Speaker expenses and allowance and $6,574 for a car allowance. 

Thompson said he doesn't think any of his fellow caucus members would accept. 

"I think they're smart enough to say no," he said.

Experience with minority government

As a former member of Parliament, Thompson sat through two of the longest-lasting minority governments in Canadian history under Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

Progressive Conservative Leader Blaine Higgs. whose party won one more seat than the Liberals on Monday, has said he considers himself the premier-elect. (Andrew Vaughan/Canadian Press)

He said the Conservatives didn't make any formal deals with other parties but instead went bill by bill, with "good legislation" that others could support. 

He thinks the Progressive Conservatives, under Blaine Higgs, could do the same.

"Nobody wants an election," Thompson said. "They're expensive."

"I know the Liberals have enough money in the bank, if you will, to run another election. I think the other parties wouldn't be as well-heeled.

"That will be the glue that holds the whole thing together, if we're given a chance."

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