2006 New Brunswick General Election

Feature by Jay Makarenko || Aug 1, 2006

In September 2006, New Brunswick voters elected the provincial Liberal Party to a majority government, with its leader, Shawn Graham, becoming the new provincial Premier. The Liberals defeated the incumbent Progressive Conservative Party, led by Bernard Lord, who had governed the province since 1999. This article provides background information on elections in New Brunswick, as well as an overview of the key participants, platforms, issues, and results of the 2006 election.

New Brunswick Voting Information

What You Need to Know to Participate

Pre-Election Party Standings

Political Party Standings at Dissolution

Progressive Conservative Party of New Brunswick

Party Leader, Political Philosophy & Election Promises

Liberal Party of New Brunswick

Party Leader, Political Philosophy & Election Promises

New Brunswick New Democratic Party

Party Leader, Political Philosophy & Election Promises

2006 New Brunswick Election Results

Liberals win a majority government

Sources & Links to Further Information

List of Article Sources & Links for More Information on this Topic


New Brunswick Voting Information

What You Need to Know to Participate

Additional information on voting in a provincial election may be found at the Website of the Office of the Chief Electoral Officer.

How the Election Works

New Brunswick is divided into electoral constituencies or ridings, each of which is represented in the provincial legislature (which is called the Legislative Assembly of New Brunswick). These constituencies are geographically based, representing particular areas of the province, and tend to have roughly the same number of voters in each. During a general election, voters in each constituency elect an official, called a Member of the Legislative Assembly (or MLA), to represent the riding in the provincial legislature.

The political party that forms the government and whose leader becomes premier, depends on the overall outcome of all of these constituency elections. Each candidate typically belongs to a recognized political party, such as the Progressive Conservatives, the New Democrats, or the Liberals. The premier is usually the leader of the political party that has elected the greatest number of MLAs across the province. S/he then chooses an Executive Council (also referred to as a Cabinet) and forms the government.

Who Can Vote in the Election

A person is qualified to vote in a provincial election if s/he is:

  • A Canadian citizen
  • Eighteen years of age on or before polling day
  • Resident in the province for six months immediately preceding the election date
  • Resident in the electoral district at the date of the election.

(Source: New Brunswick Office of the Chief Electoral Officer, 30 August 2006: http://www.gnb.ca/elections/general/generalrevisioninfo-e.asp)

Where to Vote in the Election

Each qualified voter can only vote once in the election and only in the constituency in which s/he resides. Prior to each election, voters are sent a Voter Information Card in the mail; this card identifies the voter, his/her polling station (where the vote is physically cast), and the polling station’s hours of operation.

Voters who do not receive a Voter Information Card are not likely on the Voter List for any constituency. In order for a voter to get on the list for his/her home electoral district, the voter must contact his/her Returning Officer or present proof of residency at the polling station prior to casting a ballot (proof of residency would include one or more pieces of identification that, between them, bear the voter’s name, civic address, and signature).

Voters who will be outside their electoral districts at the time of the election may cast a special ballot. To receive and cast a special ballot, voters must contact the Returning Officer for their home electoral district.

For more information on special ballots:

Casting Your Ballot on Election Day

To vote in person on election day, the voter simply goes to the polling station during opening hours. In order to cast a ballot, a voter will need his/her Voter Identification Card and a piece of recognized identification.

For information on what identification the voter may need:

Each voter is then issued a folded ballot with a list of candidates for that electoral constituency. The voter takes the ballot behind a screen and marks an ‘X’ or a check mark next to the name of his/her preferred candidate. Voters can only select one candidate; choosing more than one candidate means the ballot will be considered spoiled and will not be counted in the official results.

For more information on casting a ballot:

Disabled, Home Bound & Hospitalized Voters

Alternative voting options are available for voters who are disabled, housebound, or hospitalized at the time of the election.

For more information on alternative voting options:


Pre-Election Party Standings

Political Party Standings at Dissolution

Results of the Last General Election (2003)

The last provincial election was held in 2003, with the Progressive Conservative Party, under leader Bernard Lord, narrowly winning a majority government. The 2003 election saw a major shift in support between the two dominant political parties, the Progressive Conservatives and the Liberals, with the PCs dropping from 44 seats in the Legislative Assembly to 28 (barely clinging to majority government status), and the Liberals increasing their total from 10 seats to 26.

2003 New Brunswick Election Results

Political Parties

Popular Vote

Seats Won

Status

Progressive Conservatives

45.45%

28

Majority Gov't

Liberal Party

44.34%

26

Official Opposition

New Democrats

9.69%

1

-

Other

0.53%

-

-

For more information on the 2003 New Brunswick General Election:

Standing Prior to the 2006 General Election

Since the 2003 general election, there have been some changes to the seat totals held by the political parties. In November 2003, Liberal MLA Bernard Richards resigned his seat in the Legislature to accept an appointment as the provincial Ombudsman. The Liberals, however, retained the seat by winning the subsequent by-election held in October 2004.

Also, in October 2004, New Democratic MLA Elizabeth Weir resigned both her seat and her party's leadership, leaving the NDP without representation in the Legislative Assembly. Liberal candidate Ed Doherty won the subsequent November 2005 by-election, increasing the Liberals’ seat total to 27.

The Liberals, however, were again reduced to 26 seats in January 2006, when MLA Frank Branch left the Liberal caucus to sit as an independent. Branch had come under heavy criticism when it became publicly known that the North Shore Forest Products Marketing Board -- of which Branch was general manager at the time -- was under investigation for impropriety and mismanagement.

In February 2006, Progressive Conservative MLA Michael Malley left his caucus over differences with his party, and also sat as an independent. The move dropped the Progressive Conservatives to minority government status, with only 27 seats versus the Liberals' 26 and the two independents. Malley, however, later returned to the Progressive Conservative caucus in April 2006, restoring the Lord government to majority status.

Party Standings Prior to 2006 Election

Political Parties

Seats

Status

Progressive Conservatives

28

Minority Gov't

Liberal Party

26

Official Opposition

Independent

1

-

New Democrats

0


Progressive Conservative Party of New Brunswick

Party Leader, Political Philosophy & Election Promises

See the New Brunswick Progressive Conservative Party Website for more information on the Party as well as news and events updates.

Party Leader: Bernard Lord

Bernard Lord was born in 1965 and grew up in the Greater Moncton, New Brunswick area. He earned a Bachelor's degree in Social Science with a major in economics, in addition to a law degree, both from the Université de Moncton. Before entering politics, Lord practiced law. In 1997, he was elected leader of the New Brunswick Progressive Conservative Party. In 1998, he was elected to the New Brunswick Legislature and became leader of the Official Opposition. In 1999, the Progressive Conservatives won a majority and Lord became Premier of New Brunswick. In 2003, Lord and the Progressive Conservatives won a second majority government, narrowly defeating the Liberal Party and its leader Shawn Graham. Lord is married to Diane Haché and they have two children.

For additional biographical information on Bernard Lord:

Party’s Political Philosophy

The New Brunswick Progressive Conservative Party is a moderate-right political party. In its statement of aims and principles, the Party places an emphasis on the individual and the ability of persons to act according to their own initiative to achieve their fullest potential. With regard to social policy, the Party states that social programs should serve the dual purpose of ensuring dignified and meaningful lives for persons in need, while promoting individual responsibility and self-reliance. Concerning economic policy, the Party supports free enterprise as the driving force for economic prosperity in the province.

For more information on the PC Party's philosophy:

Party’s 2006 Election Promises

Energy Costs: A dominant issue in contemporary New Brunswick politics is rising home heating and gasoline costs. Regarding this issue, the Progressive Conservatives campaigned on several initiatives they introduced while in government in the spring of 2006:

  • Removing the eight percent provincial sales tax from all home-heating bills;
  • Capping the annual power rate increase at eight per cent for residential customers;
  • Regulating the price of gasoline, diesel, home-heating oil, and natural gas;
  • Conducting a feasibility study of a second nuclear reactor at Point Lepreau; and
  • Taking greater government control over New Brunswick Power (the provincial public utility).

Health Care: The Progressive Conservatives also made several election promises regarding health care:

  • Reducing senior care costs through planned government coverage of the health care portion of nursing home costs (announced in the Progressive Conservatives' 2006 Budget);
  • Increasing the Health Department’s budget to add another 27 doctors in the province (announced in the 2006 Budget); and
  • Introducing a Provincial Diabetes Strategy to assist persons with diabetes and increase prevention. Components of the Strategy included improved screening, increasing public awareness of the disease, and improving access to testing and insulin supplies for low-income patients.

For more on the PC’s Diabetes Strategy:

Education & Childcare: The Progressive Conservatives made several promises regarding education and childcare:

  • Increasing government spending on education in kindergarten through Grade 12 to create 240 more teaching positions and reduce classroom size (announced in the 2006 budget);
  • A $31 million investment for childcare, including raises for daycare workers and establishing a trust fund to assist communities in planning better childcare services and building additional daycare centres (announced in the 2006 Budget); and
  • A new Trades Training Strategy to provide more opportunities for youth to get jobs and to address impending trade skills shortages in the province. The Strategy included new investments in high schools and colleges to upgrade technology and vocational labs.

For more on the PC’s Trades Training Strategy:

Economy: In the area of economic growth and development, the Progressive Conservatives promised the following:

  • New tax credits for the forestry industry, enabling companies to write off one-half of their total costs on new capital equipment (announced in the 2006 Budget);
  • A drop in the corporate tax rate from 13 percent to 12 percent, and a reduction of the small business tax rate to 1.5 percent (announced in the 2006 Budget); and
  • Creation of the New Rural Economic Development Fund, worth $120 million, to spur economic growth in rural areas throughout New Brunswick.

For more on the PC’s Rural Economic Development Fund:


Liberal Party of New Brunswick

Party Leader, Political Philosophy & Election Promises

See the New Brunswick Liberal Party Website for more information on the Party and news and event updates.

Party Leader: Shawn Graham

Shawn Graham was born in 1968 in Kent County, New Brunswick. He holds a Bachelor of Physical Education Degree from the University of New Brunswick and a Bachelor of Education Degree from St. Thomas University. He also attended the Université Canadienne in France for a year of immersion studies. Prior to entering politics, Graham worked as a teacher, served in the provincial civil service as Manager of Industrial Development, and as an executive assistant to the Natural Resources and Energy Minister. Graham was first elected to the provincial legislature in 1998, representing the riding of Kent. On May 11, 2002, he was elected Leader of the New Brunswick Liberal Party as well as Leader of the Official Opposition. In the 2003 general election, Graham helped to revive the provincial Liberal Party by increasing its seat count from 10 to 26, and almost defeated the incumbent Progressive Conservatives (the PCs held on to a narrow one-seat majority). Graham is married to Roxanne Reeves.

For additional biographical information on Shawn Graham:

Party’s Political Philosophy

The New Brunswick Liberal Party is a centrist political party. Its constitution states that the Party is committed to human rights and freedoms under the law. It also emphasizes that the Party recognizes equality of opportunity, and equal access to important social goods and services, as being fundamental to human dignity in a democratic society.

For more information on the Liberals’ political philosophy:

Party’s 2006 Election Promises

Energy Costs: The Liberals outlined their own set of energy-related initiatives to reduce costs for residents:

  • A home energy conservation effort that would provide up to $2,000 per household to cover conservation-related upgrades;
  • Implementation of a “time-of-day” savings plan that would allow energy consumers to pay a lower rate on electricity when using power during “off-peak” hours;
  • Development of a long-term business plan to transform New Brunswick into an energy exporter. This plan included undertaking a feasibility study on the merits of operating a second nuclear reactor at the Point Lepreau facility, as well as examining opportunities for small-scale hydroelectric and clean coal energy generation;
  • Significant research and development initiatives into alternative sources of clean energy, such as tidal, hydrogen fuel cell, ethanol, and bio-fuel;
  • Reducing provincial gasoline taxes so that they are the lowest in Canada; and
  • Offering residents a tax rebate of $1,500 on the purchase or lease of a fuel-efficient hybrid vehicle.

For more information on the Liberals’ energy plan:

Health care: In the area of health care, the Liberals committed to several initiatives and programs:

  • Establishing a Rural Health Framework to increase services in rural communities;
  • Establishing a single, province-wide ambulance service to improve patient access to ambulance services;
  • Creation of a new Diabetes Assistance Program to improve access to necessary medication, supplies, and devices for New Brunswickers with diabetes;
  • The introduction of a new provincial addictions treatment and prevention strategy, including improving the availability of methadone treatment, as well as instituting a Prescription Drug Monitoring Program as a tool to prevent drug addiction and flag dangerous drug interactions; and
  • Improving seniors care, including reducing daily rates in nursing homes to $70 per day, improving wages and benefits for home support workers, and implementing (within one year) a new Long Term Care Strategy for seniors.

For more information on Liberal promises regarding health care:

Education & Childcare: With respect to education and childcare, the Liberals promised to:

  • Create 12,000 new community college spaces for students over the next five years;
  • Improve ‘inclusive’ education to ensure that students with special needs receive proper educational services, including focusing on earlier identification of disabilities and improving access to treatment and support services;
  • Double the number of infant spaces in the province’s licenced daycare centres; and
  • Provide $2 million over four years to establish the Moncton Headstart as a Centre of Excellence for upgrading the skills of early learning workers around New Brunswick.

For more information on Liberal education and childcare policy:

Economy: The Liberals also promised several initiatives for economic growth and development in New Brunswick:

  • A commitment to develop New Brunswick into a “have” province within the next 20 years by establishing the province as a leader in energy conservation and generation, improving the education and skills training sector, and making job creation a government priority;
  • Implementing key elements of the Liberal plan including strong and involved government leadership, meaningful support for small business start-ups, a new energy program (see above), and support for traditional industries (see below);
  • A commitment to increase the marketing budget of the Department of Tourism and Parks by $3 million to improve competitiveness and increase the number of tourists to the province;
  • The introduction of a new Mining Development Fund to support greater exploration of New Brunswick’s mining assets;
  • Establishing a cabinet committee to work with stakeholders in the forestry industry in order to modernize their activities. The Liberals have also pledged to implement a forest management plan for 2007-2012;
  • Creation of a Northern New Brunswick Initiative as a comprehensive development strategy for Miramichi, the Acadian Peninsula, and the Restigouche-Chaleur regions, with the aim of closing the gap between these regions and the rest of New Brunswick. The Initiative includes public investments in infrastructure to increase economic opportunities in these northern regions; and
  • The establishment of a new program to provide funding to small- and medium- sized businesses for start-up, diversification, and expansion plans.

For more information on the Liberal economic plan:


New Brunswick New Democratic Party

Party Leader, Political Philosophy & Election Promises

See the New Brunswick New Democratic Party Website for more information on the Party and news and event updates.

Party Leader: Allison Brewer

Allison Brewer was born in 1954 in Fredericton, New Brunswick. She received an Honours degree in Philosophy from the University of Dalhousie/King’s College in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Following university, Brewer began her career in communications with the Government of New Brunswick. She later left the provincial civil service to set up and run the Fredericton Morgentaler Clinic. From 2000-04, Brewer worked for the Government of Nunavut, eventually serving as Senior Advisor on women’s issues. She was elected leader of the New Brunswick New Democratic Party in September 2005.

For additional biographical information on Allison Brewer:

Party’s Political Philosophy

The New Brunswick New Democratic Party is a centre-left, social democratic party. The Party supports human dignity and well-being through equality of opportunity and condition among persons in society. Moreover, the Party supports some government intervention in order to promote and protect these values.

Party’s 2006 Election Promises

Energy Costs: In its 2005 Convention, the New Brunswick NDP adopted several energy-related policies, including offering rebates for energy efficiency upgrades and hiring engineering students to do preliminary energy audits (free of charge) for residential and industrial users.

Health Care: The NDP also made several health care commitments:

  • Institution of province-wide qualifications and minimum training requirements for home care workers; and
  • Introducing publicly regulated and funded midwifery care in New Brunswick.

For more information on NDP health care policy:

Education & Childcare: At their 2005 Convention, the NDP made several commitments in the areas of education and childcare:

  • Reducing class sizes in all primary and secondary grades, as well as eliminating fees and fundraising for all school essentials, including computers and learning resources;
  • A pledge to finance the repair or replacement of school infrastructure, and to ensure that schools can incorporate environment-friendly initiatives;
  • A promise to improve funding and delivery of special needs programs at the primary and secondary levels;
  • A promise to immediately freeze tuition fees for students at the post-secondary level, as well as enhance loan remissions for post-secondary education for persons with student debt;
  • Proposing to increase the base budgets of post-secondary institutions, and to address the infrastructure deficit of universities and colleges; and,
  • Proposed improvements to provincial childcare. This would include ensuring that all families have access to affordable, universal childcare, as well as providing funding for staff training, improved salaries and upgraded programs, and increasing the number of licenced childcare spaces in the province.

For more information on NDP education and childcare policies:

Economy: Economic initiatives committed to by the Party at the 2005 Convention include:

  • Pledging to assist the forestry industry by exploring ways to add value to the province’s forestry products; and
  • Promising to bring the minimum wage rate in New Brunswick to a level that would enable a single person living on one income and residing in a metropolitan area to earn enough to lift the wage-earner out of poverty. If elected, the Party has also pledged to introduce programs to assist small businesses to adjust to the increase in minimum wage.

For more information on NDP economic policies:


2006 New Brunswick Election Results

Liberals win a majority government

Shawn Graham and his New Brunswick Liberals won a majority government, winning 29 of 55 seats in the provincial legislative assembly. The incumbent Progressive Conservatives came in second with 26 seats, while the provincial New Democratic Party failed to win a seat. The Liberals, however, narrowly lost the popular vote, winning 47.1 percent of the vote, while the Progressive Conservatives won 47.5 percent (the NDP won only 5.1 percent).

The election was a major blow to both the Progressive Conservatives and the NDP. The Progressive Conservative also won two fewer seats than they did in the 2003 election, while the NDP fell from one seat to none.


Sources & Links to Further Information

List of Article Sources & Links for More Information on this Topic

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