New Brunswick’s Liberal and Tory leaders hold rare meeting ahead of session

New Brunswick Progressive Conservative Leader Blaine Higgs addresses the media after meeting with Lieutenant Governor of New Brunswick Jocelyne Roy-Vienneau in Fredericton on Thursday, Sept. 27, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/James West

The two men battling to be New Brunswick premier held a rare meeting Wednesday, but Tory Leader Blaine Higgs says it did nothing to convince him to offer any support to a Liberal government.

Liberal Premier Brian Gallant called the meeting to get input on a throne speech expected next week, but Higgs says the content doesn’t matter because he’ll be voting against it.

“Those are just words and I’m sure they will be well written and cover everything,” Higgs said.

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He said no matter what the Liberals might promise, the vote is a question of confidence in the Liberal government over the last four years.

Higgs said the personal attacks against him during the recent election campaign did nothing to warm his opinion of Gallant.

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“It doesn’t create a bonding experience. It’s not something you feel good about,” he said.

“To me it says a lot about character. It says a lot about who you can trust and what the motive is.”

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The Liberals are trying to cling to power despite winning only 21 seats – one fewer than the Progressive Conservatives – and well shy of the 25 needed for a majority in the 49-seat house.

Wednesday’s meeting lasted only about 30 minutes, and Higgs said he would abide by a gentlemen’s agreement not to reveal details of their discussion.

Gallant was scheduled to speak to reporters later Wednesday.

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New Brunswick election standoff continues – Oct 9, 2018

Before a throne speech can be delivered, a Speaker must be elected, and so far no party is willing to offer a member because of the tight numbers in the legislature.

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Higgs said he believes Gallant will offer a Speaker “if push comes to shove.”

If no one offers a Speaker, Higgs said he believes it would be up to the lieutenant-governor to then ask him to attempt to form a government.

Higgs said at that point, he would offer a member as Speaker.

He said he is already thinking about what he would put in a Tory throne speech, but so far nothing is written.

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