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Opposition leaders say N.B. premier could use poison pill to trigger election call

FREDERICTON — New Brunswick opposition leaders are criticizing Premier Blaine Higgs after he left the province guessing for weeks about whether he would plunge them into an early election campaign.

Although the Progressive Conservative premier seems to have pulled back from his threat to call an election before the legislature resumes sitting Tuesday, critics say he could still orchestrate his government’s defeat in a throne speech.

Election speculation has swirled since six members of Higgs’ own party voted against the government on a motion related to the province’s policy on sexual orientation and gender identity in schools.

Higgs said in a statement last week that his government could not function if the dissident Tories are determined to operate independently within their own party.

The Green and Liberal party leaders both speculate that Higgs could use Tuesday’s throne speech as a poison pill to upend his government and trigger an election.

J.P. Lewis, a political science professor at the University of New Brunswick, Saint John, says it would be a smart move if Higgs used the throne speech to say what he believes, and that could be the platform for his campaign.

However, Lewis says the Progressive Conservatives, who hold 29 of the legislature’s 49 seats, could face a tight race in the current political climate.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 13, 2023.

The Canadian Press