New Brunswick returns ag minister, ag critic in election

Liberals' former ag minister among casualties

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New Brunswick’s incumbent agriculture minister and opposition ag critic are among those returning to the legislative assembly as the provincial Tories locked in a governing majority.

As of 9 p.m. CT Monday, incumbent Premier Blaine Higgs’ Progressive Conservatives, who went into the vote with a 22-seat minority government, were elected in 27 of 49 ridings.

The provincial Liberals, who briefly held a minority government after the last provincial election in 2018, were elected in 17 seats as of Monday night. The provincial Greens and People’s Alliance captured three and two seats respectively.

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Ross Wetmore, who’s been Higgs’ minister for agriculture, aquaculture and fisheries since November 2018, easily held his riding of Gagetown-Petitcodiac, coming in ahead of People’s Alliance candidate Craig Dykeman by a spread of 3,470 votes.

Isabelle Theriault, the Liberals’ incumbent critic (or “policy advocate,” as the party describes the critic role) for agriculture and aquaculture, held her northeastern riding of Caraquet by a spread of 4,638 votes over the Greens’ Marie-Christine Hache.

Andrew Harvey, the Liberals’ ag minister before the party was knocked out of government by a non-confidence motion in November 2018, finished second Monday night in his western riding of Carleton-Victoria, 391 votes behind Tory challenger Margaret Johnson.

Wetmore, a businessman best known as co-owner of Gagetown-based K+W Quality Meats and the Gagetown Marina, came to the legislature in 2010 as the MLA for the riding then known as Grand Lake-Gagetown. He was re-elected in 2014 and again in 2018.

For some farm groups such as the Agricultural Alliance of New Brunswick, Monday’s election took on added significance as the Liberals, Greens and People’s Alliance went public in favour of new restrictions on the use of glyphosate herbicide.

The Liberals said in late August a Liberal government would phase in a ban on glyphosate use on Crown land over four years. The Greens’ platform called for a ban on glyphosate spraying in Crown forests.

“Farmers across the province are increasingly concerned that potential decisions, like this one, are being made in haste and are creating an environment of unpredictability that reduces growth and investments in our sector,” the AANB said in a statement Sept. 2. — Glacier FarmMedia Network

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Editor, Daily News

Dave Bedard

Editor, Daily News, Glacier FarmMedia Network. A Saskatchewan transplant in Winnipeg.

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