[lg policy] New Brunswick: Four-year deal between N.B. Tories, smaller party ideal for stability: Higgs

Harold Schiffman haroldfs at gmail.com
Tue Oct 2 10:45:52 EDT 2018

 Four-year deal between N.B. Tories, smaller party ideal for stability:
The Canadian Press
*Published: *a day ago
*Updated: *7 minutes ago
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FREDERICTON — New Brunswick's Tory leader says a four-year agreement with
one of the smaller political parties would help create stability in a
province stuck with a deadlocked result from last week's election.

The Tories, led by Blaine Higgs, won 22 seats in the legislature — one more
than the Liberals. Neither party has enough seats for a majority.
However, Liberal Premier Brian Gallant has said he intends to continue
governing as both leaders try to gain support from the third parties
holding the balance of power.

On Monday, Higgs met with the Green Leader David Coon and emerged to
say the parties share some common policy areas, such as improving the
openness of government.

He also said the Greens are interested in a four-year agreement like the
one in British Columbia between the NDP and the Green party, which states
the agreement is in effect "until the next fixed-date election."

Though the B.C. agreement doesn't guarantee the support of the Greens, it
sets out a series of guidelines on how the two parties will work together,
and it requires the minority government to hold a referendum on
proportional representation.

Higgs said the document is "maybe more thorough" than something his party
would sign, but added he'll see where talks go with the Green leader.

Coon issued a brief statement Monday, saying the "ongoing discussions" with
Higgs and Gallant will continue this week.

"Both agreed with me that we need to find a way to bring a stable
government for the people of New Brunswick in this minority government
situation," Coon's statement said. "I and my caucus will continue to work
to achieve this."

The right-of-centre People's Alliance and the Green party scooped up three
seats apiece on Sept. 24.

The People's Alliance has already said it would help prop up a minority
Tory government for up to 18 months, even though a formal deal or coalition
has not been struck.

As for the Greens, they have yet to make any commitments, official or

Higgs told reporters that he likes the idea of the longer-term agreement
being floated by the Greens, and he said it was something People's Alliance
Leader Kris Austin might consider as well.

"We're using the template that was struck out West ... maybe it's more
thorough than something we need to have," Higgs said after his meeting with

"Ideally, that agreement is a four-year document. And I think if we can
find a four-year commitment, and I think Mr. Austin would also be open to
that, because we want stability here in the province, and that's what we're
striving for."

Higgs also said it's important for the province's financial stability to
work out a longer-term arrangement that will ensure bond raters don't
downgrade the province's credit rating due to political uncertainty.

"If they think we're going into an election, that's just one more item bond
raters look at ... and then we're deeper in the hole," he said.

Austin said in a telephone interview that while his party also wishes to
create stability in government, "at the same time we want to have our
autonomy as a party to continue to fight for things we've been fighting for
all along."

He said he is hesitant to say he'd favour a four-year agreement without
looking into the possibility in greater detail.

Higgs was recently downplaying his party's relationship with the People's
Alliance, describing it as an informal, verbal agreement.

However, Austin said that he will expect talks with a Progressive
Conservative government prior to offering support on the throne speech and
financial bills.

"I would expect to have some kind of discussions or negotiations leading
into it," he said.

On Friday, Gallant said he would try to form a minority government with the
Green Party and will recall the legislature for a throne speech by Oct. 23.

Gallant said the Liberals will not form a coalition with the People's
Alliance, saying there are "fundamental values" the Liberals don't share
with the smaller party, particularly their language policies.

— By Michael Tutton in Halifax.


 Harold F. Schiffman

Professor Emeritus of
 Dravidian Linguistics and Culture
Dept. of South Asia Studies
University of Pennsylvania
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6305

Phone:  (215) 898-7475
Fax:  (215) 573-2138

Email:  haroldfs at gmail.com

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