New Brunswick - Government and Politics

Government and Politics

New Brunswick has a unicameral legislature with 55 seats. Elections are held at least every five years, but may be called at any time by the Lieutenant Governor (the viceregal representative) on consultation with the Premier. The Premier is the leader of the party that holds the most seats in the legislature.

There are two dominant political parties in New Brunswick, the Liberal Party and the Progressive Conservative Party. While consistently polling approximately 10% of the electoral vote since the early 1980s, the New Democratic Party has elected few members to the Legislative Assembly. From time to time, other parties, such as the Confederation of Regions Party, have held seats in the legislature, but only on the strength of a strong protest vote.

The dynamics of New Brunswick politics are different from those of other Canadian provinces. The lack of a dominant urban centre in the province means that the government has to be responsive to issues affecting all areas of the province. In addition, the presence of a large Francophone minority dictates that consensus politics is necessary, even when there is a majority government present. In this manner, the ebb and flow of New Brunswick provincial politics parallels the federal stage.

Since 1960, the province has tended to elect a succession of young bilingual leaders. This combination of attributes has permitted recent premiers of New Brunswick to be disproportionately influential players on the federal stage. Former Premier Bernard Lord (Progressive Conservative) has been touted as a potential leader of the Conservative Party of Canada. Frank McKenna (premier, 1987–97), had been considered to be a front-runner to lead the Liberal Party of Canada. Richard Hatfield (premier, 1970–87) played an active role in the patriation of the Canadian constitution and creation of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Louis Robichaud (premier, 1960–70) was responsible for a wide range of social reforms.

On September 27, 2010, the Progressive Conservatives won a large majority with 42 out of 55 seats by taking 16 formerly Liberal seats, making David Alward the new Premier of New Brunswick. see New Brunswick general election, 2010

A recent report released by the Canadian Taxpayers Federation criticized the pensions made by members of the legislative assembly, which take 16 taxpayer dollars for every dollar contributed by the Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA) and cost taxpayers $7.6 million annually. According to the organization, New Brunswick legislators have one of the richest pension plans in the county, after voting for an 85 percent increase two years ago.

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