Premier Blaine Higgs has said he is willing to call an election as early as next week — if the opposition refuses a deal to keep his minority Tory government in power until September 2022 — or no earlier than 30 days after the coronavirus pandemic is declared over by public health officials.
But most New Brunswickers do not support holding a provincial election this fall, saying the timing isn’t right given the coronavirus pandemic and that an election isn’t necessary, according to a survey conducted by Narrative Research.
Narrative Research describes itself as a “non-partisan… research company and one of Canada’s leading public opinion and market research companies.”
The company said it asked more than 1,000 New Brunswickers to what extent they support or oppose holding a provincial election this fall.
“A slim majority of New Brunswickers express opposition to holding an election in the fall, while one-third support the idea. One in six residents have no clear opinion on the matter,” the company said in a press release.
According to Narrative Research, results are generally consistent across the province, although opposition is most pronounced among residents in northern N.B. (56 per cent), those with French as their mother tongue (61 per cent) and by residents aged 55+ (60 per cent).
The survey showed that 37 per cent of the people interviewed oppose holding an election in the autumn due to the fact that it is bad timing for an election, and that efforts should be focused on the pandemic.
Other key reasons cited include that “an election is unnecessary given that the current government is working well (26 per cent), that there is no reason place risk on the health and safety of voters (23 per cent) or because the money could be better spent elsewhere (19 per cent).”
In contrast, the survey showed that those who support holding an election mainly do so because they believe that “byelections need to happen (25 per cent), polling stations could be managed safely with protocols in place (20 per cent) or because a majority government is needed (17 per cent).”
According to Narrative Research, the survey was conducted from Aug. 5-9, 2020, with 1,115 New Brunswickers 18 years of age or older.
-With files from the Canadian Press