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Political expert weighs in on snap election rumours

By Joe Thomson Sep 29, 2023 | 6:34 AM

Premier Blaine Higgs speaking at the 2023 State of the Province address. Image: Fredericton Chamber of Commerce

New Brunswickers may be heading to the polls sooner than expected as rumours swirl that the Higgs government may call a snap election.

A political science professor at UNB Saint John says the premier may be looking to shore up his party following a summer filled with controversy, including several MLAs stepping down or distancing themselves from the party.

“One way to kind of reset that, and reset leadership, would be to have an election where, if he’s able to win, everyone loves a winner. Especially a political winner,” said Dr. J.P. Lewis.

“That would help his hold on the party … anyone who’s unsettled in the caucus would be brought into line if they were successful in the campaign.”

People may be wondering to themselves why the PCs would want to hold an election despite Higgs’ poor standing in recent polls.

According to the latest premier approval rating poll by the Angus Reid Institute, he carries just a 30 per cent rating, which is the third lowest in the country. Lewis says the party may want to call an election now before the numbers get any worse.

“There definitely doesn’t seem to be a clear polling advantage right now, other than maybe they think it’s going to get worse for them, and that they might think, you know, recent polling where it has them closer with the liberals is an opportunity,” said Lewis.

He also pointed to the fact that Liberal leader Susan Holt is a relatively unknown name in the New Brunswick political landscape, meaning Higgs’ experience could be used as a selling point.

Lewis says that should an election happen, folks can expect the campaign points to be focused on the issues that have been impacting Canada the most as of late: housing and affordability.

He also added that the controversial Policy 713, which was the source of discontent within the PC Party this summer, will likely play a huge role in all party campaigns.