Political tensions heating up in Saint John ahead of N.B. election campaign

FILE - New Brunswick Premier Brian Gallant announced a $20 million modernization project for Saint John Airport. Stephen MacGillivray/The Canadian Press File

The political temperature is rising with a much-anticipated provincial election now in sight in New Brunswick, and like always, the greater Saint John area will be hotly contested.

Glen Savoie is seeking a third term as a Progressive Conservative MLA. He says the failed Energy East pipeline bid, a fracking moratorium, higher taxes and lost economic opportunities should not be ignored by the electorate.

“Any announcement that (Liberals) make has to be taken with a grain of salt, and certainly a perspective that I need to dig a little further into this before I can say that this is a good thing,” says Savoie.

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Gerry Lowe, an outspoken, well-known businessman who sits on common council, is seeking the nomination for the Liberals in the Bellwether riding of Saint John Harbour. Lowe admits the Gallant government has had some missteps, but he says all governments stumble from time to time.

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“I’m not saying it’s right or it’s wrong,” says Lowe. “I’m sure I have a different opinion than some of the things the government has done and I’ll voice my opinion.”

Like most ridings in the province, Saint John Harbour has traditionally been held by the Conservatives or Liberal. University of New Brunswick Saint John political scientist JP Lewis says being strategic with resources is critical.

“I think for the NDP and the Greens and the People’s Alliance, they are competitive in a handful of ridings and it’s just a matter of if they can break through,” says Lewis. “Kris Austin with the People’s Alliance was close last time in his riding, and in terms of Saint John Harbour, this is a riding that has gone NDP in the past.”

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The Liberals are defending their record, claiming the province is moving in the right direction. They want another four years to prove it.

Candidates have a few months to plead their case with the election slated for Sept. 24.

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