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Election speculation cost New Brunswick nearly $2 million: chief electoral officer

FREDERICTON — New Brunswick’s chief electoral officer says speculation about an early election that never came to pass in 2023 cost the province over $3.2 million, of which $1.7 million cannot be recovered.

Kim Poffenroth shared the figures in a Friday letter to the Standing Committee on Procedure, Privileges and Legislative Officers, in which she says Elections New Brunswick far exceeded the budget for 2023-2024 because it had to be ready in case voters were called to the polls early.

Her letter does not mention Premier Blaine Higgs by name, but he has repeatedly said since June that he needed a new mandate to quell descent within his party and only dropped the speculation after his throne speech in October.

Higgs office did not immediately respond to request for comment on Poffenroth’s letter, which says the province spent at least $1.7 million that cannot be recouped on tasks like hiring and training election officers. She also notes not all expenses have been received.

Liberal Leader Susan Holt says the costs to taxpayers cannot be justified, and the money could have been used for other things but was thrown away on Higgs’ indecision and ego.

Green Leader David Coon says it was irresponsible of Higgs to dither on elections, adding the waffling also highlights the ongoing divisions within Higgs’ Progressive Conservative ranks.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 20, 2024.

The Canadian Press

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