New Brunswick’s Premier Blaine Higgs has faced criticism from opposition leaders for leaving the province in a state of uncertainty regarding the possibility of an early election. While Higgs initially hinted at calling for an election before the legislative session resumes, recent developments suggest he may have reconsidered. However, critics argue that he could orchestrate his government’s defeat through the upcoming throne speech.
The speculation surrounding an election has been ongoing since June when six members of Higgs’s Progressive Conservative party voted against the government on a motion relating to the province’s policy on sexual orientation and gender identity in schools. In response, Higgs stated that his government cannot function effectively if dissident members operate independently within their own party.
Opposition leaders from the Green and Liberal parties believe that Premier Higgs may use the throne speech as a means to sabotage his own government, ultimately triggering an election. They suggest that he may include problematic elements, making it challenging for rebel members within his caucus to support the speech, resulting in its failure.
While the opposition leaders are critical of Higgs’s actions, they also recognize the potential political strategy behind such a move. Green Leader David Coon commented that Higgs could shift the blame for an election onto the opposition parties and the conservative rebels within his own party. Liberal Leader Susan Holt echoed this sentiment, expressing frustration with what she perceives as indecision and game-playing on the part of the premier.
The upcoming throne speech, which the Speaker has confirmed will take place next week, has become a pivotal moment for Higgs to outline his vision for the province. If Higgs seizes this opportunity effectively, he can position himself as a leader with a clear agenda that has been obstructed by the opposition, thereby justifying the need for an early election.
While the Progressive Conservatives currently hold a significant majority in the legislature, some political experts anticipate a tight race if an election were to take place. There is also the possibility of former Tory members running as Independent conservative candidates, which could potentially disrupt Higgs’s chances of securing a majority.
As the situation unfolds, it remains to be seen whether Premier Higgs will stay true to his initial threat of an early election or opt for an alternative path, working with his caucus and cabinet to fulfill his mandate.