Cancelled by-elections hurt local democracy

FREDERICTON – Elections NB (ENB) has told municipalities that municipal byelections scheduled for December 3 2018, will be delayed “due to the results of the September 24, 2018, provincial general elections, in order for Elections New Brunswick to be able to plan for any contingency.”

The Union of Municipalities of New Brunswick (UMNB) condemns this decision and calls for immediate action by ENB to schedule the by-elections as soon as possible.

“It is not Elections NB’s job to pick between provincial and municipal elections. That is why UMNB is demanding immediate meetings with the Chief Electoral Officer, Kim Poffenroth, and with the leaders of the parties represented in the Legislature,” said UMNB President Wayne Sturgeon.

ENB has scheduled a new by-election date of May 6, 2019. Some municipal council seats have been vacant since April 2018. The proposed delay means some seats will be vacant for over a year, leaving residents without local representation and hurting the ability of some councils to function.

In Aroostook, current vacancies mean council cannot meet quorum, leaving the municipality unable to conduct day-to-day business. The community will be unable to pass a budget, meaning decisions on local services will be made by Fredericton rather than the elected mayor and council. Other communities are on the brink, such as Tracadie, which has lost four council member in six months and needs six for quorum.

“Life can’t stop because there’s a minority government in Fredericton. During the election, we heard from many now-MLAs about the importance of strong local government. We need to hear from them now. Stop delaying democracy and let municipalities get back to work,” said Sturgeon.

The letter sent to Ms. Poffenroth and to the leaders of the province’s political parties is attached [Click here to read], as well as a current list of municipal council vacancies [Click here to read].

The Union of the Municipalities of New Brunswick is a bilingual association of municipalities throughout the province. UMNB works to ensure the priorities of municipalities and their residents are heard.

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For more information, please contact: 

Margot Cragg, UMNB Executive Director, (506) 476-5641, margot.cragg@umnb.ca