Federal Conservative leader looking to break Liberal hold on New Brunswick
Federal Tory Leader Andrew Scheer is on a campaign-style swing through New Brunswick, as the party seeks to make gains in a province and region it was shut out of last time.
The Liberals captured all 32 federal seats in Atlantic Canada during the 2015 election, including 10 in New Brunswick.
“There’s a real sense that although the Liberals went 32 for 32 in the last election that the people of Atlantic Canada have gone zero for 32 since then,” Scheer said Monday in Fredericton.
Scheer was also holding a town hall meeting Monday evening in Fredericton, as the clock ticks toward a federal election this fall.
On Tuesday, he speaks to a business audience in the morning before meeting with Tory Premier Blaine Higgs and his cabinet, and then holds a policy brainstorming session with Conservatives from across Atlantic Canada.
Higgs became the region’s lone Tory premier last fall, after ousting Liberal Brian Gallant, a close ally of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
At a news conference in Fredericton, Scheer said his party would develop a broad based set of policies to appeal to Canadians across the country.
The Tory leader also hit some local hot buttons.
“There’s a great deal of frustration, especially here in New Brunswick, that the Liberals killed Energy East and that every single Liberal member from the region voted against our motion of support for Energy East,” he told reporters.
“Obviously the carbon tax is very unpopular here. People know they are going to pay much more in taxes than they’ll get back. It is making life less affordable for the people of New Brunswick.”
WATCH: Andrew Scheer promises to upset Liberal stronghold in Atlantic Canada
Donald Wright, a political scientist at the University of New Brunswick, said the Conservatives need to find strong local candidates to ensure they aren’t shut out again in Atlantic Canada.
“They can’t write off the region as Liberal territory,” Wright said.
“Very often these national elections come down to 338 mini-elections.”
Wright said Scheer’s base is in western Canada, and he will need to raise his profile in the east.
Scheer’s visit comes on the heels of recent New Brunswick stops by Trudeau and People’s Party Leader Maxime Bernier. Green Leader Elizabeth May will be in the province later this week.
© 2019 The Canadian Press