Elections New Brunswick has ordered masks and other protective equipment in light of growing speculation the province’s minority Tory government could call a general election before the end of the year.
Chief electoral officer Kim Poffenroth says while the government is only obligated to hold a pair of byelections, she has asked staff to be ready for a vote in all 49 ridings.
That means ordering safety equipment and looking for polling locations large enough to ensure physical distancing.
Election speculation has been ramping up in recent weeks, and now the Progressive Conservatives have scheduled nomination conventions for five ridings on Aug. 8, including Premier Higgs’ own riding of Quispamsis.
Green party Leader David Coon says it appears the Tories are in a hurry to nominate candidates, and that doesn’t bode well for collaboration of an all-party cabinet committee created to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic.
Liberal health critic Jean-Claude D’Amours says he believes Higgs is planning a provincial election.
The premier’s office did not respond to a request for comment on election timing Monday.
J.P. Lewis, a political scientist at the University of New Brunswick, says in the midst of a pandemic, the normal patterns of campaign politics and voter behaviour don’t necessarily apply.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 20, 2020.