Northeastern New Brunswickers want more focus from Fredericton when next government takes office

Click to play video: 'Residents hope to see focus on Northern New Brunswick in 2020 election' Residents hope to see focus on Northern New Brunswick in 2020 election
Many people in northern New Brunswick say more focus needs to be put on that part of the province. As Callum Smith reports, job losses and an aging population have brought the economy and senior care to the forefront of this election campaign – Aug 27, 2020

New Brunswick’s electoral map has typically seen a political line splitting the northwest and the southeast regions of the province.

That trend continued with the 2018 election results showing, for the most part, a Liberal-red north and a Progressive Conservative-blue south.

Read more: All our New Brunswick election 2020 coverage

And while the 2020 campaign has looked very different due to COVID-19 and the snap election, there’s some concern the outcome won’t be any different.

“I don’t see anything changing,” says Charles Hickey, who lives near Dalhousie, N.B. “I think it’s going to be same old, same old.”

Voters in northeastern New Brunswick say no matter who forms the next provincial government, there needs to be more of a focus on that part of the region.

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“Here up north, they only want our vote,” says Neguac, N.B., resident Marcel Cyr.

Marcel Cyr, of Neguac, believes more government focus needs to be put on the northeastern part of the province. Callum Smith / Global News

Cyr says senior care, the COVID-19 pandemic, and fiscal responsibility are the top three things he hopes to see when the new government is formed.

The economy and job losses are two things that stand out to Jon Schlegelmilch, of Dalhousie.

“We’re in an area here in northern New Brunswick where employment is an issue,” he says. “I think there has to be more attention to this problem up here.”

Read more: ‘Game of inches’: New Brunswick parties fighting for that elusive majority

Meanwhile, in Bathurst, N.B., Regent Firlotte says the economy has to take top priority.

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“We live up north here and there’s just no more industry,” he tells Global News. “All the young people have to move; nobody can stay up here.”

Speaking on healthcare, he says “the services up north are not even close to what they are down south.”

Click to play video: 'Doctors want health care to become top issue in New Brunswick election campaign' Doctors want health care to become top issue in New Brunswick election campaign
Doctors want health care to become top issue in New Brunswick election campaign – Aug 25, 2020

But he says he’ll be voting Liberal in September because “they always give us a better shake up north.”

Part of the economy concern stems from what people say is a lack of action when big employers in the industrial region go down.

“In past years, we’ve lost quite a few resources,” says Marina Canning in Bathurst. “But just in the past year, we’ve lost two big [employers]– the [Brunswick] Smelter and the [Caribou] Mine. So, we need something to replace that in order to keep our young [people] in the area and keep prospering.”
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Read more: Elections New Brunswick sees spike in interest for mail-in ballots for election

Senior care wasn’t just on the mind of Cyr; Mona Doucet agrees it should be made a top priority. Doucet also agrees the more rural northern part of the province doesn’t get equal treatment from provincial governments.

“The north here is pretty well-forgotten,” she says.

Mona Doucet, of Bathurst, says COVID-19 and the snap election call has made for a different feel to the election campaign. Callum Smith / Global News

But on top of that, Doucet says she feels like there’s a disconnect this election campaign because it’s more difficult to meet candidates. Parties have had different views on door-knocking policies, which are typically a huge part of an election campaign.

“It does make a difference, yes, because you don’t seem to know the person you’re going to vote for, or what they’re going to do for you,” Doucet says.

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At least there’s still time… New Brunswickers head to the polls Sept. 14.

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