Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Fracking an issue as Liberals win majority in New Brunswick election

Brian Gallant, the leader of the New Brunswick Liberal party, won a majority in the eastern province triumphing over the incumbent Progressive Conservatives of David Alward.

During the count, the lead changed several times but in the end the Liberals held 27 seats with only 21 for the Progressive Conservatives(PC) with the Green Party winning one seat. Detailed results for each constituency can be found here.The vote was marred by problems with voting machines: Before the results were declared, however, the tabulations of ballots were suspended late Monday for almost two hours due to concerns about technical issues with memory cards and discrepancies with the vote-counting machines. The issue led the Tories to call for the ballots to be counted by hand, but the Liberals demanded that Elections New Brunswick be left alone to determine the result. Because of the ballot-counting problems the PC leader had not conceded defeat.
There were eight female members elected in the 49 constituencies. Nine cabinet ministers in the ousted PC government went down to defeat. However, five seats were won by less than 100 votes. In the Saint John East riding Liberal Gary Keating won over the incumbent PC member Glen Savoie by a mere eight votes.The leader of the People's Alliance Kris Austin lost to the PC incumbent Pam Lynch in Fredericton-Grand Lake by only 26 votes. The party won just over 2 percent of the vote province-wide.
 In terms of vote percentage Liberals had 42.7 percent, PC's 34.6, New Democratic Party(NDP) 13 percent, Green Party 6.6 percent and People's Alliance 2.1. The NDP failed to gain a seat in the legislature and the leader Dominic Cardy resigned even though the NDP vote actually increased by several percentage points from the previous election. The Green Party, with half the number of votes as the NDP, nevertheless made history by electing David Coon, a well-known environmentalist, in Fredericton South. Coon is the first ever Green MLA in New Brunswick and only the second to be elected to a provincial legislature in Canada. There is one Green member of the federal parliament, Elizabeth May.
 In spite of the vote tally issues, the New Brunswick chief electoral official said that results of the election on the government website are accurate. The official results will not be announced for four days after results have been reviewed. Tom Bateman, a St. Thomas University political scientist said: “If you cannot trust that the technology has indicated exactly how New Brunswickers wanted their vote expressed, how do you say to the people of New Brunswick this is an election and these are the results you can have faith in?”
Among one of the important issues in the campaign was fracking. The Liberal leader Brian Gallant promised a moratorium on fracking "until risks to the environment, health and water are fully understood". On the other side, the PC leader David Alward promoted shale gas development as a prominent part of his campaign arguing that such development would create jobs and keep skilled workers in the province rather than heading off to Alberta.

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