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New Brunswick election hits home for P.E.I. natives on the campaign trail

New Brunswick Liberal Leader Brian Gallant and wife Karine Lavoie, left, addresses the media after meeting with Lieutenant Governor of New Brunswick Jocelyne Roy-Vienneau, in Fredericton on Tuesday, Sept. 25, 2018.
New Brunswick Liberal Leader Brian Gallant and wife Karine Lavoie, left, addresses the media after meeting with Lieutenant Governor of New Brunswick Jocelyne Roy-Vienneau, in Fredericton on Tuesday, Sept. 25, 2018. - The Canadian Press

After waiting on definitive results from the New Brunswick election, Jordan Bober bowed out at around midnight on Monday night.

Bober, who had worked as Green Party leader David Coon’s campaign manager in his Fredericton South riding, knew that the question of who would be leading the government of the province would not be settled that night. Besides, he still had to show up the next morning to clear out Coon’s campaign office.

"When you're a campaign manager, you have to shut it down early and start the clean-up and all that jazz," said Bober, the sole political staffer for the Green Party of P.E.I., who was loaned by the party to work on Coon’s campaign.

On Tuesday, Bober also fielded visits from campaign volunteers and other visitors, eager to speculate about what Monday’s too-close-to-call result might mean.

"Everybody wants to talk about parliamentary tradition and constitutional law and all that kind of stuff," he said.

Related: Gallant says lieutenant-governor has OK'd his bid to stay on as premier for now

Incumbent Premier Brian Gallant saw his seat count drop to 21. The PCs finished with 22 seats, while the Green Party and the People’s Alliance Party each garnered three seats. Although Gallant has stated he will stay on as premier for the moment, it is unclear whether any of the parties will co-operate in order to establish a stable minority government.

Five ridings were decided by a margin of fewer than 100 votes.

"The biggest lesson is to say at the end of the day, it's the conversations with other people where they live is the most important thing you can possibly do. Everything starts at home. If things are going well, it happens at home. If things are challenging, it's at home."
Ronnie MacPhee

Bober said there could be a similar result in P.E.I.’s next election. But, New Brunswick is also a very different province.

"I think the next election in P.E.I., there's going to be a lot of tight races and there's going to be a lot of interesting results. I think it's probably going to look a bit different from the situation here, if you look at how the polling is going on P.E.I," Bober said.

The Green Party of P.E.I. has seen its share of the popular vote rise from 18 per cent in August of 2017 to 38 per cent in August 2018, according to a recent opinion poll from Corporate Research Associates.

Bober said his focus during the local campaign in Fredericton South was to make sure as much energy as possible was directed at speaking directly to voters.

"We've had tons and tons of volunteers going door-to-door as well. So that ensures that we have as many conversations with as many voters as we possibly can, in person," he said.

Ronnie MacPhee, another Islander, worked on the successful campaign of Liberal candidate Gerry Lowe. Lowe won his riding in Saint-John Harbour by a margin of 10 votes.

MacPhee, who became involved in provincial politics after meeting current Health Minister Robert Mitchell, echoed Bober’s comments about the importance of face-to-face contact with voters.
"The biggest lesson is to say at the end of the day, it's the conversations with other people where they live is the most important thing you can possibly do," MacPhee said.

"Everything starts at home. If things are going well, it happens at home. If things are challenging, it's at home."

MacPhee admitted the election result was not what he and other Liberal campaign staff wanted. But he said he was happy with the platform that the Liberals ran on.

"I wish there was a different result but I'm quite confident that the plan we put forward was very positive and I'm not ashamed whatsoever."

But MacPhee was not so sure the results in P.E.I.’s next election will echo those New Brunswick saw on Monday.

"The Atlantic region is very similar in nature but it's also very different as well," MacPhee said.

"There's a lot of different issues than what we have."

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