New Brunswick Liberal loss shows province’s deepening linguistic divide

Click to play video: 'Questions loom for N.B. Liberals after election defeat' Questions loom for N.B. Liberals after election defeat
WATCH: Liberal Kevin Vickers responded to his own defeat by announcing that he will resign, but his colleagues have a big task ahead of them: representing nearly all of the northern ridings. Travis Fortnum reports. – Sep 15, 2020

The Acadian Society of New Brunswick worries the province’s new majority PC government could deepen the language divide.

“We heard cries of western alienation in Western Canada,” Communications Director Éric Dow says. “It’s just a matter of time before we start hearing cries of Acadian alienation.”

READ MORE: New Brunswick PCs form majority government as Liberal leader Kevin Vickers steps down

Dow says the relationship between the Progressive Conservatives and the francophone community in New Brunswick has become more and more strained since Premier Higgs took leadership.

“It seems as if the premier has a hard time speaking directly to the francophone population directly,” he says, “and presenting a program that takes into account their aspirations and their needs.”

Higgs’ victory speech Monday night called for unity among the province’s residents.

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Click to play video: 'New Brunswick Election Recap with Sarah Ritchie' New Brunswick Election Recap with Sarah Ritchie
New Brunswick Election Recap with Sarah Ritchie – Sep 15, 2020

Yet Dow says Higgs didn’t actually refer to Acadian or francophone New Brunswickers while doing so.

He says the society is recommending Higgs appoint a francophone lieutenant, suggesting newly elected Moncton East MLA Daniel Allain — the PCs’ only francophone heading to the legislature.

The stark language divide seen on the electoral map shows traditionally francophone ridings tagging Liberal candidates over PCs.

The New Brunswick electoral map shows that northern, traditionally Acadian ridings vote red. Global News

The polls saw 17 Liberal wins projected — down three from before the writ dropped.

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Party leader Kevin Vickers lost in his home riding of Miramichi and announced he will resign as leader.

Read more: New Brunswick Liberal Leader Kevin Vickers resigns after loss in Miramichi

“Obviously, if you don’t win your own seat, it’s difficult to continue,” says New Brunswick Liberal Association president Joel Reed.

“I felt that Kevin had a couple of things working against him, one of which was he was never able to get into the legislative assembly.”

Reed says Vickers fought hard, but it wasn’t enough.

He’s expected to formally tender his resignation soon and the party will select an interim leader.

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