Five weeks after taking second place in the provincial election, New Brunswick’s Liberal government has fallen after losing a confidence vote on its throne speech.
Premier Brian Gallant told the legislature Friday he would be going to see Lt.-Gov. Jocelyne Roy Vienneau to resign as premier.
“And I will humbly suggest to her honour to allow the leader of the Conservative party to attempt to form a government and gain the confidence of the house,” he said
He wished the Tories luck, saying: “Their success will be New Brunswick’s success.”
WATCH: Tory Leader Blaine Higgs is set to be the next premier of New Brunswick following the defeat of Brian Gallant’s minority government
The 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.
Gallant sought to survive with a minority government by adding many of the opposition’s campaign promises to his party’s throne speech earlier this week, but his party’s fate was sealed Thursday when both the Tories and People’s Alliance said they’d vote to defeat it.
Progressive Conservative Leader Blaine Higgs said he wants the transition to occur as quickly as possible and will present a throne speech before the end of the month.
“The throne speech won’t be a shopping list. It will be a priority list and it will be focused on some big items we can agree on,” he said after the vote.
“We will set lofty goals and achieve them. We don’t need more taxes, we need results.”
Higgs – who was to make his own visit to the lieutenant-governor Friday afternoon – said he believes his minority government can survive four years by producing results.
Its success will depend on support from the opposition parties.
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People’s Alliance Leader Kris Austin said his party has agreed to support the Tories during confidence votes for at least 18 months to provide some stability to the legislature.
“We are in nobody’s back pocket, but in a minority government you do have to work together and we’ve agreed to do that with Mr. Higgs,” Austin said.
However, he said his members will be free to vote their conscience on bills.
Austin said his first priority is to get the new Tory government to address a shortage of paramedics responsible for a reduction in ambulance services.
Green Leader David Coon and his two members voted to support the Liberal throne speech, which included many of his party’s campaign promises.
“Our message to the Conservatives is that it’s important that they include those things in their throne speech, and we’ll be working hard to make sure that happens,” Coon said.
Prior to the vote, Gallant made a final pitch for support with an address closing debate on the throne speech.
He said New Brunswickers voted for change in how political parties govern and he takes full responsibility for the election results.
Gallant acknowledged the weeks since the deadlocked election had been “challenging,” but said voters called for a change on how parties govern.
He called for an “agenda of collaboration” no matter which party governed, and admitted he had sometimes fallen into the old partisan ways as premier.
He said it appeared the election results — which saw the Liberals dominate the largely francophone north and the Tories and right-of-centre People’s Alliance do better in the mostly anglophone south — suggested the province is divided along regional and linguistic lines.
But he said people should not be taken in by those apparent divisions.
“What binds us together is greater than what drives us apart … We’re all New Brunswickers.”