The New Brunswick Liberal government is likely to fall as the People’s Alliance of New Brunswick (PANB) has confirmed all three of its MLAs will vote against the throne speech on Friday.
Leader Kris Austin confirmed to Global News late on Thursday in a text message that his caucus had made their decision.
Premier Brian Gallant was offered a dim glimmer of hope that his minority government could survive at least a bit longer on Thursday afternoon when all three Green members said they’d vote in favour of the Liberals’ throne speech, giving him 23 votes.
But with the PANB saying they’d vote against the throne speech, it will not be enough.
Gallant would need an opposition member to make a dramatic vote in support of his government to survive the confidence vote scheduled for Friday.
Progressive Conservative Leader Blaine Higgs said he is confident the Liberals will be defeated.
“I still remain optimistic, but I’m not here for the goodness of my health … we’ve got to make some decisions that matter,” he said.
The governing Liberals won just 21 seats in the September election — one fewer than the Tories — while the Greens and People’s Alliance each won three seats.
If the Liberals lose a confidence vote, it’s expected the lieutenant-governor would ask the Tories to try to form government.
Gallant said Thursday that if he loses the vote, the Liberals will step aside.
“I’ll resign the government. I’ve made it clear that I don’t think New Brunswickers want an election. And frankly, if we were to go into an election, we would be rebuking the very strong message sent to us on election night. People have sent a minority government to Fredericton for a reason,” he said.
If he loses, Gallant said he would have a conversation with his wife to decide if he stays on as opposition leader, or quits.
Gallant will have one last chance to make his case when he closes debate on the throne speech Friday morning, before the vote is held.
Despite the indication of their vote, Green members weren’t giving the Liberal government any glowing endorsements in the legislature on Thursday.
Leader David Coon said over the last four years, he has lost confidence in the government and its leadership.
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“The political meddling in the work of the legislature, the neglect of our health, child protection and senior care systems, and of the poor, the firing of our chief medical officer of health and the dismantling of her office, the handing over of extramural to Medavie, the inaction on renewable energy and climate change, and the degradation of our forests have all left our province worse off,” Coon said.
But he didn’t have a glowing review of the Tories either.
“I have little confidence that they have changed, and recent comments on fracking, language rights, Indigenous people and climate change have only confirmed this to me,” Coon said.
However, he said the amended Liberal throne speech, which contains some items from the Green platform, could be advanced for the benefit of their constituents, and all New Brunswickers.
Gallant said he’s hoping opposition members will decide to put politics aside and base their decision on the actual throne speech.
“If they do that, and they base their vote on the contents of the speech from the throne, I feel like we can gain the confidence of the house,” he said.
Gallant said if he continues to govern, then he knows he will have to do better by working more collaboratively with the other parties.
— With files from The Canadian Press and Sarah Ritchie