Year-end interview with N.B. Premier Blaine Higgs

New Brunswick Premier Blaine Higgs joins Sarah Ritchie to discuss a wide range of topics, including the dramatic election results, capital spending cuts and more.

New Brunswick’s premier says he has the permission of the legislature to proceed with lifting the fracking moratorium in the Sussex area, and bringing forward a bill in the new year would be a “redundant exercise.”

Blaine Higgs made the comments in a wide-ranging interview with anchor Sarah Ritchie in late December. Here’s what he had to say on some key topics.

On why the legislature won’t be asked to vote on lifting the fracking moratorium: 

“Why would we duplicate that effort? We didn’t bring it forward as a Throne Speech item, so then it would have come back – although it wasn’t necessary, I would have brought it back because I said I would. But the Liberals brought forward an amendment to the Throne Speech, that particularly included the moratorium to continue. So we said all right, if they want to bring it and make it part of a confidence motion, part of a Throne Speech, we will amend it to reflect what we wanted to do, and what we said in our platform, and what our MLA was elected on in that region: to have a regional approach to shale gas development.

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“So we amended our Throne Speech to reflect just that, wouldn’t be anything different than what we’d bring to the (legislature) again, and it was voted on. So we have that authority now.”

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Former New Brunswick premier Brian Gallant reflects on 2018
Former New Brunswick premier Brian Gallant reflects on 2018

On collaboration with the Green Party: “Maybe we need a little different shade of Green here in New Brunswick.”

“There are certainly areas of common ground related to some of the areas we’ve looked at for social issues, social assistance, working on the homeless. We worked on that together to get those houses in place in time for winter. There will be other issues related to education, to health care, that we will all be on the same page on, whether it be nurse practitioners, whether it be better results in education.

“We differ primarily on areas around the economy, areas around what’s going to drive us forward as an effective economy that’s not tax funded. You know I brought up several times, it’s interesting that in B.C. – that are known as one of the cleanest provinces, I would say, in the country – they have managed and developed a shale gas industry for 50 years. … And that party, the NDP, are in a supply arrangement with the Green Party. So you know I say, that’s interesting because there they are, they’re moving forward on this project, you know the same thing that we could do here. And they see it as part of their green initiatives, because it’s so much cleaner. As we transition from heavy fossil fuels to cleaner fossil fuels to no fossil fuels. But it’s a transition, in order for citizens to be able to afford. So you know, I’ve said it a few times that maybe we need a little different shade of Green here in New Brunswick.”

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On the legislative agenda for 2019: “The big item coming forward March 19 will be our ordinary budget.”

“I’ve been very focused on not seeing a downgrade in our province, because it’s a big risk. I mean if we get downgraded, we end up with higher interest rates. And so then we have more money that’s going out for interest rather than for applying it to a service, whether it’s education or health or social service or highways, or whatever it’s for.”

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Nova Scotia premier Stephen McNeil reflects on 2018
Nova Scotia premier Stephen McNeil reflects on 2018