Skip to main content
//empty //empty
Coronavirus information
Coronavirus information
The Zero Canada Project provides resources to help you manage your health, your finances and your family life as Canada reopens.
Visit the hub

A man arrives to vote in the New Brunswick provincial election, at St. Mark's Catholic Church, in Quispamsis, N.B., on Sept. 14, 2020.

Andrew Vaughan/The Canadian Press

Voters in New Brunswick headed to the polls Monday after a provincial election campaign notable for the unusual steps candidates had to take to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic.

Thanks to health and hygiene rules, there were no handshakes, no kissing of babies, no rallies and no community barbecues during the 28-day campaign.

After casting his ballot at a church hall in his riding of Quispamsis, Progressive Conservative Leader Blaine Higgs said voting went smoothly, despite COVID-19 restrictions.

Story continues below advertisement

“It was very well organized, very disciplined,” the premier said. “This is just another example that democracy will continue.”

However, there were technical glitches at some polling stations soon after they opened, which means they will be kept open past the 8 p.m. deadline.

Lineups were reported at a few polling stations, and there was a heavy turnout during the advance polls.

Some voters said they were surprised by how smoothly the voting process went, saying the only difference they noticed from previous elections was the physical distancing and use of masks.

Much of the low-key campaign was conducted on social media, though there was some door-to-door campaigning – all done at a safe distance.

On Monday, Higgs – who often wore a full face shield while on the hustings – called the election only 21 months into his first term, saying his minority government needed the stability of a majority to govern a province initially left reeling by the pandemic.

“It has hurt our stability here in the province and it certainly would hurt it now at a time like this if we got into that again,” he said.

Story continues below advertisement

At dissolution, there were 20 Tories, 20 Liberals, three Greens, three People’s Alliance members, one Independent and two vacancies. At least 25 seats are needed for a majority in the 49-seat house. Recent polls put the Tories well ahead of their rivals.

Liberal Leader Kevin Vickers cast his ballot shortly after the polls opened in Miramichi. He said the campaign had been a challenge, though he said online tools were used to get the party’s message out to the public.

During the race, Vickers frequently took aim at Higgs for calling a snap election in the middle of a pandemic, suggesting the premier was putting political opportunism ahead of public safety.

Vickers has said the province needs a growth agenda, which he said is in contrast to what he called Higgs' unspoken plan to impose big spending cuts. The Liberal leader has also pledged to put the province’s economic development agency – Opportunity New Brunswick – “on steroids.”

Green party Leader David Coon – who in 2014 became the first Green elected to the legislature – has also accused Higgs of attempting a power grab.

At the centre of the Green platform are commitments to eliminate the use of industrial herbicide on public land, raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour and lower the legal voting age to 16 years.

Story continues below advertisement

“We have two priorities,” Coon said during the campaign. “Keeping New Brunswickers safe and secure in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, and to chart a path to recovery … that puts the well-being of people and communities at the heart of government decision-making, while protecting the natural environment.”

As for the People’s Alliance, led by Kris Austin, the party had agreed to prop up the Higgs government for 18 months after the 2018 election. When that deal expired, Higgs asked the other parties to keep him in power until 2022 or until the pandemic had been declared over.

When the Liberals walked away from those talks last month, Higgs called for an election.

As was the case in the 2018 election, Austin’s party focused on language issues – a hot-button topic in the officially bilingual province. Austin has said the money spent on providing bilingual services, particularly in health care, could be better spent.

The NDP, which had no seats in the legislature when the election was called, is led by interim leader Mackenzie Thomason. The 23-year-old is running in his third election.

Sign up for the Coronavirus Update newsletter to read the day’s essential coronavirus news, features and explainers written by Globe reporters and editors.

Report an error
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

Comments that violate our community guidelines will be removed.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies