No byelection for Donald Arseneault's old riding, premier says
The cabinet minister stepped down in November amid controversy over a lobbying job
There will be no byelection to replace former Liberal cabinet minister Donald Arseneault in the Campbellton-Dalhousie riding, Premier Brian Gallant said Friday.
Gallant told reporters that the provincial government feels it would be too expensive to hold a byelection in the riding when the next provincial election is just a few months away.
New Brunswickers are slated to go to the polls on Sept. 24.
Gallant said a byelection could cost close to $150,000.
In the interim, MLAs Gilles LePage and Daniel Guitard will take over constituency duties and have a weekly presence in the riding, Gallant said.
Likely safe seat for Liberals
Arseneault stepped down in November amid controversy over his second job as a lobbyist for Canada's Building Trades Unions.
He had previously said he was planning not run in the 2018 election but was going to stay on as MLA until then.
Campbellton-Restigouche Centre last elected a Progressive Conservative MLA in 2010, before the riding was merged with portions of Dalhousie-Restigouche East to become Campbellton-Dalhousie.
With Arseneault's departure, the Liberals now have 25 members of the legislature, including Speaker Chris Collins, who only votes to break ties.
The PCs have 22 MLAs and David Coon is the lone Green member.
When Arseneault resigned, Opposition Progressive Conservative leader Blaine Higgs acknowledged the riding was likely a safe seat for the Liberals.
Mayor sees no issues with decision
Dalhousie Mayor Normand Pelletier said he had no problem with the decision as long as he has an MLA he can contact about issues affecting his area.
Gallant advised him that LePage and Guitard will be in touch with municipal officials on a regular basis, he said.
Pelletier said he agreed that it didn't make sense to call a byelection when the general election is coming up so soon.
"I don't think it's going to solve very much at this moment," he said.
However, Alan McCann, the PCs riding president for Campbellton-Dalhousie, said he was disappointed in the decision as he was hoping a byelection might have made the difference in what party would represent the riding going forward.
With files from Radio-Canada and Jacques Poitras