New Brunswick party leaders begin their final push ahead of Monday’s election

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New Brunswick’s political leaders fanned out across the province Friday in the final push for support ahead of Monday’s provincial election.

Progressive Conservative Leader Blaine Higgs used potato fields in Florenceville in the northwest of the province as the backdrop as he called on voters to return his party to government.

“New Brunswickers are being asked to make a choice. I think there is a very clear difference between our party and the others, and the difference is experience,” Higgs told the crowd at Potato World, a museum highlighting potato farming in New Brunswick.

“It’s a risk for our province if we do anything other than elect a PC majority government,” he said.

Read more: Bilingualism top issue in final New Brunswick leader debate

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Higgs said he wants a four-year mandate to continue what his minority government started in 2018, with a focus on health care and keeping people safe through the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We have more work to do,” Higgs said.

Liberal Leader Kevin Vickers started his day in the east of the province, announcing that a Liberal government would pass a law to help artists and performers.

“By officially recognizing the profession of artist, we will allow this industry to have rights comparable to other professions and a strong voice to claim those rights,” Vickers said in Moncton.

He noted the arts and culture sector has been hit hard by COVID-19 and while other industries begin to recover, it is still struggling as the widespread closure of theatres deprives performers of their main source of income.

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He said in order to promote the profession, a Liberal government would integrate artists and their works in schools.

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“Arts and cultural education allow students to develop their creativity and to better appreciate their cultural heritage,” Vickers said.

Meanwhile Green Leader David Coon promised help for post-secondary students if his party forms government.

He said a Green government would reinstate the tuition access bursary for students from families with an income under $60,000.

“I have heard the concerns of students, and unlike the other parties I am prepared to act,” Coon said.

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He said a Green government would also bring back a benefit ensuring that anyone graduating within five years would have no more than $20,000 in student debt. He also said he would eliminate interest on provincial student loans.

The New Democrats and People’s Alliance also campaigned Friday.

New Democrat interim Leader Mackenzie Thomason told a wrap-up news conference that his party’s campaign was focused on the people of the province.

“The other parties have chosen to make this election about the economy. They seem to have forgotten that people are what make the economy,” he said. “Limiting spending power of lower-income families and persons by failing to provide a liveable wage is not something to be proud of.”

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At dissolution, the Progressive Conservatives and Liberals each had 20 seats in the legislature, while the Greens and the People’s Alliance each had three. There were two vacant seats and one Independent.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 11, 2020.

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