Premier Bernard Lord of New Brunswick has called an early election for the provincial legislative assembly. The election will be 18 September. Lord, a Tory, had little choice but to call the election approximately a year early:
The election became inevitable when a backbencher told Lord he was resigning his seat to return to private life, a move that would have plunged Lord’s fragile Conservative government into minority status.
(“Plunged.” How dramatic!)
Lord’s party currently holds 28 seats to the Liberals’ 26. The two parties split the provincial vote in 2003, 45%-44%. There was one NDP member elected in 2003, but she resigned last year, and was replaced by an independent.
Lord’s government had made comprehensive political reform, including fixed election dates, a priority. How will the proposed reforms, which include the adoption of proportional representation (specifically MMP) and internal party primaries, be affected by an early election? Just two months ago, the government had given its formal (and favorable) response to the recommendations of the independent Commission on Legislative Democracy (see Wilf’s summary). The response included setting a referendum on the proposed reforms for 12 May, 2008, which was supposed to be within the life of this government. Now it will not be, and so I assume the referendum is in limbo.