Race tightens the day before New Brunswick heads to the polls

The Liberals are after another four years in the New Brunswick provincial election. The Progressive Conservatives want to take back the legislature. But it's the upstart Greens and People's Alliance who may have the say in who takes power.

The Liberals are seeking re-election, but upstart parties poised to play big role

New Brunswick party leaders, from left, Kris Austin, David Coon, Brian Gallant, Blaine Higgs and Jennifer McKenzie, will spend time in their home ridings the last day of campaigning before Monday's election. (CBC, CBC, James West/Canadian Press, CBC, CBC)

In less than 24 hours, New Brunswickers will head to the polls to vote in the provincial election.

The Brian Gallant Liberals are seeking another four years in power, while Progressive Conservative Leader Blaine Higgs is hoping the recent string of a single-term governments continues and the province reverts to Tory blue.

But there's a wrinkle this time.

In a traditionally two-party province, a pair of newer alternatives have climbed in the polls during the campaign. The People's Alliance and the Green Party are poised to bite into the PC and Liberal vote share, respectively, and could each win multiple seats.

It's unlikely that anyone but the Liberals and PCs will win, but the rise of the two other parties could spoil someone's chance at a majority and create stability issues in a minority-government scenario.

The Liberals entered the campaign holding onto a slim majority with 26 seats — one more than the minimum 25 required for a majority.

The NDP, once firmly positioned as New Brunswick's third party, has fallen into fifth place in the polls.

New Brunswick is on the cusp of an election, so where do the parties stand? Who is leading the polls and what issues are at play? We talk to two reporters about the race. 7:56

Polls tighten

The New Brunswick Votes 2018 Poll Tracker, which aggregates all publicly available polling data, indicates the Liberals' 10-percentage-point advantage over the Tories in late August has shrunk, while the People's Alliance and Green Party are polling at historic levels.

The latest update to the New Brunswick Poll Tracker suggests the race has tightened among the top four parties. (CBC)

Both the Alliance and Greens are in their third provincial election campaign. In 2014, Leader David Coon became the first Green MLA in New Brunswick by winning Fredericton South, while Alliance Leader Kris Austin was defeated by 26 votes in Fredericton-Grand Lake last election.

CBC poll analyst Eric Grenier's seat projections show the Alliance could not only win their first seat, but also move into the third-party position — spelling trouble for the Tories who have cautioned voters against vote-splitting on the right.

The Liberals have the highest probability of winning a majority at 81.1 per cent, while the possibility of a PC majority or minority remain low.

The Liberals have a strong probability of keeping their majority, according to the New Brunswick Poll Tracker. (CBC)

Where the leaders are

The party leaders are choosing, for the most part, to campaign near their respective home bases on Sunday.

Gallant will start his day in Moncton, where he will be joined by Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil, Prince Edward Island Premier Wade MacLauchlan and Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Dwight Ball.

There, the three leaders all spoke on the strength of a united Liberal Atlantic Canada.

Liberal leader Brian Gallant was joined by Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil, Prince Edward Island Premier Wade MacLauchlan and Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Dwight Ball on Sunday. (Philip Drost/CBC)

MacLauchlan told the Liberal supporters gathered in Moncton that it was important to "keep New Brunswick as part of the team that has been working so effectively for our region."

Ball and McNeil echoed similar statements. But it wasn't all confidence. All three premiers reminded people they needed to vote and encourage fellow Liberal supporters to cast their ballot. 

Afterwards, he is expected to head north with stops in Saint-Louis-de-Kent, Pokemouche, Tracadie, and Neguac.

Higgs is attending rallies in Saint George, Fredericton, Chipman, Sussex and his home riding of Quispamsis.

Austin will be going to door to door in his riding of Fredericton-Grand Lake, while Coon will spend his last day campaigning in Fredericton South.

NDP leader Jennifer McKenzie will be campaigning in her riding of Saint John Harbour.

With files from Éric Grenier