Transition to Liberal Brian Gallant government begins
Premier-designate meets with outgoing Premier David Alward, weighs cabinet options
New Brunswick's new Liberal government is expected to be sworn in within two weeks.
The first step toward the transition took place on Wednesday, with a meeting between Premier-designate Brian Gallant and outgoing Premier David Alward in Fredericton.
Gallant says he's confident the process will go well, but a firm date has not yet been set.
"The premier’s been very co-operative, his team has been very co-operative, and committed to us that he would do everything he possibly can to make this the smoothest transition it can be," Gallant told reporters after the meeting.
"We are looking to have it in the next 10 to 14 days. We should land on a date in the next day or so."
"We want to make sure that every perspective possible is represented in cabinet," he said.
But his choices may be somewhat limited.
Twenty-seven Liberal MLAs were elected across the province on Monday night.
The party fared poorly in English New Brunswick, however, with only about a dozen successful anglophone candidates, which means all of them will likely get serious cabinet consideration.
Prominent women, such as Norma Smith in Southwest Miramichi and Shannon Merrifield in King Centre, came up short.
In the Saint John area, the Liberals lost more than they won — and the wins were narrow.
Ed Doherty claimed the Saint John Harbour riding with just 71 votes over incumbent Progressive Conservative Carl Killen and the Saint John East race was even tighter with Liberal Gary Keating defeating incumbent Tory Glen Savoie by just eight votes.
In Fredericton, six of the seven Liberal candidates Gallant campaigned for went down, likely putting Stephen Horsman, of Fredericton North, on the cabinet shortlist.
Carleton-Victoria's Andrew Harvey, who was suspended from the Liberal caucus during the election campaign over fraud charges that were subsequently dropped, may also get careful thought as one of the party's only anglophone MLAs in northwestern New Brunswick.
Newcomers could be cabinet contenders
Newcomer John Ames, a teacher in St. Stephen who won the Charlotte-Campobello seat, is also a contender, being one of only four Liberals elected south of Fredericton and west of Moncton — all of them men.
Gallant commented that not enough women get elected, but said there will be women in cabinet.
He has four Liberal female MLAs to choose from.
Miramichi Deputy Mayor Lisa Harris, who is another newcomer after her victory in Miramichi Bay-Neguac, will likely get a hard look as the only Liberal anglophone woman elected outside of greater Moncton, where a total of seven Liberals were elected, including Gallant and four of his senior critics in opposition.
The other women include:
Francine Landry in Madawaska Les Lacs-Edmundston.
Monique Leblanc from Moncton East.
Cathy Rogers from Moncton-South.
Serge Rousselle, in Tracadie-Sheila, is the only one who is a lawyer, other than Gallant, making him a likely choice for attorney general.
Donald Arseneault, in Campbellton-Dalhousie, is almost certain to grab a senior cabinet post in the Gallant government, being a former deputy premier and minister of multiple portfolios in the Shawn Graham government, and having served as the health critic for the Liberals in the last legislative assembly.
Similarly, Victor Boudreau, in Shediac-Beaubassin-Cap-Pelé, who served as the interim Liberal leader after Shawn Graham resigned in 2010, is a strong contender.
Bill Fraser, in Miramichi, was the opposition house leader and critic for transportation and infrastructure, New Brunswick Internal Services Agency, government services, and Service New Brunswick.
Denis Landry in Bathurst East-Nepisiguit-Saint-Isidore, was the opposition whip and critic for public safety and solicitor general.
Veteran Charlotte County Liberal Rick Doucet, in the riding of Fundy-The Isles-Saint John West, was the critic for energy and mines and Efficiency NB when the Liberals were in opposition.
Other Liberal MLAs who handled critic portfolios include:
- Roger Melanson in Dieppe — finance, New Brunswick Liquor Corporation, New Brunswick Investment Management Corporation
- Chris Collins, in Moncton Centre — education and early childhood development
- Hédard Albert in Caraquet — economic development, regional development corporation, Invest NB, Northern New Brunswick initiative, rural affairs
- Brian Kenny in Bathurst West-Beresford — justice and attorney general, tourism, heritage and culture
- Bernard LeBlanc in Memramcook-Tantramar — human resources, environment and local government
- Bertrand LeBlanc in Kent North — agriculture, aquaculture and fisheries
The other Liberal MLAs elected Monday are:
- Gilles Lepage in Restigouche-West
- Daniel Guitard in Restigouche-Chaleur
- Wilfred Roussel in Shippagan-Lamèque-Miscou
- Benoît Bourque in Kent South
- Chuck Chiasson in Victoria-La Vallée