Third Party voting in New Brunswick

The 2010 Election was the first for two parties in New Brunswick politics: The Green Party and the People’s Alliance. Their introduction onto the NB political scene represented more options for the New Brunswick voter to consider and opened up the political landscape to a more grassroots, a more under-the-radar approach, and more options away from the Big 2 Parties in the province: the Liberals and the Progressive Conservatives.

The Liberals and the PCs have dominated New Brunswick’s provincial political landscape. Both parties have won every election in New Brunswick’s history and have rarely, if ever, been challenged by a third party in most ridings. Third parties typically have difficulty even getting elected members into the Legislature – David Coon’s election in Fredericton South as a member of a third party in 2014 was the first election victory for a candidate not in the main two parties since Elizabeth Weir won Saint John Harbour for the NDP in 2003.

However, third party presence in provincial politics is about more than simply winning seats. Third parties can split votes in many different ways and lead to many unusual and different circumstances which would not normally occur with only two parties running candidates. Indeed, with more third parties running candidates, New Brunswick elections have become much closer and far more volatile.

With the introduction of the Greens and People’s Alliance, NB elections saw five official parties entering candidates, three of whom (PCs, Lib, NDP) running full slates of candidates while the Greens ran a near-full slate with PANB running a very abbreviated slate of 14 candidates in 55 ridings.

Although none of the third parties won seats in the 2010 Election their results provided a sort of warning shot across the bows of the Big 2 parties. The NDP amassed 10.41% of total votes, the Greens 4.56%, and the PANB a small 1.17%. Altogether, third parties in NB combined for 16.75% of the total provincial vote, or 62,267 total votes. These totals were the highest for third parties since 1991 when the confederation of Regions made a breakthrough winning eight seats after the splitting of the PCs following 1987’s election.

16.75% for third parties was an 11.5% increase over the 2006 election in which the NDP were the only third party option. In 2010 NDP leader Roger Duguay scored 32% in Tracadie-Sheila, good for 2nd place. The Greens scored eight 3rd-place finishes, mostly centered around Moncton and southest New Brunswick. PANB scored two 3rd-place finishes, with leader Kris Austin acheiving 20% of the vote in Grand Lake-Gagetown.

The 2014 election would continue the trend of increased third party votes. In this election the Greens increased their vote share to 6.61% (and won a seat), the NDP increased to 12.98%, and the PANB increased to 2.14% with a still abbreviated slate of candidates.

In total, 84,096 New Brunswickers voted for third parties in 2014 – an increase of just under twenty two thousand over 2010. This meant nearly 6% more voters chose third parties in 2014 compared to four years earlier. In 2014, 22.62% of voters choose parties that were not the PCs or the Liberals.





Coon’s victory for the Greens is a testament to this increased presence of third parties in New Brunswick. He’s the first ever Green Party candidate elected in the province’s history. However, his win was due to his own votes as well as some very fortunate vote splits along the way.

Fredericton South split nearly four ways, with rounded percentages as follows:
GRN 30% [COON]
PC 26%
LIB 22%
NDP 20%
IND 2%

Can Coon repeat this in 2018? Perhaps. It will take a lot of ground work and Get-Out-The-Vote to ensure one of the other three parties in contention don’t leapfrog him. With a riding this close it is the absolute definition of a tossup.

NDP Leader Dominic Cardy saw similar circumstances in his riding, although more of a three-way race than a four-way race. Cardy unfortunately did not benefit from the vote-split that Coon did, and it will be interesting to see if he chooses this riding again (see my previous article on this subject)

Fredericton West-Hanwell split three ways, with rounded percentages as follows:
PC 35%
LIB 28%
GRN 7%

The closest third party race undoubtedly was in another Fredericton-area riding, this time the riding of PANB’s leader Kris Austin in Fredericton-Grand Lake. We’ll call this a three-and-a-half way race:

Fredericton-Grand Lake split three-and-a-half ways, with percentages as follows:
PC 28.79%
PANB 28.48% [AUSTIN]
LIB 27.91%
NDP 10.53%
GRN 4.29%

Austin came within 26 votes of winning his riding and being a bigger surprise winner than Coon. Austin’s win would have been the first time in 23 years that four parties had been represented in the Legislature with the most votes spread throughout those four parties provincially.

From 1999 to 2006 roughly 90%-95% of New Brunswickers voted for either the Progressive Conservatives or the Liberals. In 2010, with the introduction of the Greens and People’s Alliance, that number shrank to 83%. In 2014, with increased growth for the new parties and larger growth for the NDP, the percentage of voters voting for the PCs or Liberals shrank even further to 77%. In other words, the two big parties had 15% less voters to count on than just a decade earlier.


The introduction of third parties in this first-past-the-post voting system also leads to difference in outcomes. Prior to the introduction of the Greens and People’s Alliance a winning MLA averaged between 52% and 56% of the vote in their riding. With the two new parties that number has shrank to 48% in 2014. This means that to win a seat in the legislature the average vote of the winning candidate has decreased by 5% with more parties gaining more votes.

In 2014, the average winning candidate in Central New Brunswick (Fredericton-area ridings) needed only 37% of the votes on average to win their riding. This is due in part to three party leaders running in this region but also to the competitive nature of all five parties in this region as well.

In fact, Central New Brunswick (Fredericton and environs) is becoming increasingly tighter and tighter as we progress with more third parties:


In Eastern New Brunswick (Kent-Moncton-Tantramar areas) a similar trend is forming:


Will this trend continue for 2018? Possibly. The NDP did well in some regions of the province and will need a similar showing to continue that trend. The 12% of votes they received in 2014 is roughly 4% more than their current provincial polling, and even then that 12% total didn’t give them a seat in the Legislature. Focusing their efforts on a single area or region may glean less votes overall but a better chance at winning a riding.

The Greens, with Coon, will almost certainly focus on his re-election campaign in Fredericton South and may increase focus on adjoining ridings in the area. The Greens did well in Kent County due to the fracking debate and may not see similar numbers in the next election.

The People’s Alliance, as i’ve written on before, are likely poised for continued growth. With continued trending Austin should win his Fredericton-Grand Lake riding in 2018, unless there’s a big PC increase in vote share, and other candidates may see similar strong showings if their trending continues. Running more candidates in more rural Anglophone areas will only serve to increase their vote total. This is a party which has still not yet run a full-slate of candidates and averages somewhere around 4% or 5% in the ridings they do run in.

Whenever I bring up third parties in New Brunswick improving their vote totals I always have one or two people say something like: “Yeah but they’ll never run government“. You’re right, they won’t, but even if they’re not winning ridings they’re having an effect on the outcome, and when they are winning ridings they’re having an effect in the legislature and in committee. Just by existing and fielding candidates these third parties are applying pressure to the larger two parties to keep up. A decade or two ago it was very common to win a riding with over 50% of the total vote in a riding because there were only effectively two choices. In 2018 there will be five choices, and every single percentage point can be the difference between sitting at home and sitting in the legislature.

In 2014 the third parties combined for 23% of total votes and ended up with 2% of the seats in the legislature. In 2018 they can still combine for 23% of total votes and end up with 6% or 8% of total seats. It remains to be seen. There’s no denying the impact that third parties are having on campaign races, though, and it’s going to make for an interesting election in 2018 with the currently-governing Liberals only two or three ridings away from minority status.



Languages Spoken at Home in New Brunswick

Language is the most controversial topic in New Brunswick. More than sports and their supporters, more than education or healthcare, and more than the Irvings. Language debates trump them all. As the only province in Canada where both languages are the official languages perhaps this isn’t all that surprising – it’s a tug-o-war where both are given podiums rather than a clear preference for one or the other. It’s an important facet of life, from dealing with government services to running a business to sending your children to school in First Grade.

Everyone has stories and everyone has anecdotal evidence one way or the other about the current (or past situations) of language in New Brunswick. Through all that anecdotal evidence there must be some hard statistics, right? Some concrete numbers to look at, to trend, to analyze. Surprisingly, hard statistics on the subject are difficult to come by. Many different categories are used, from knowledge of languages to usage of both languages to bilingualism rates – for this exercise I was looking for something more straightforward.

What i’ve found in the past is that when language statistics are reported they’re very rarely contrasted to past numbers. There’s very rarely a graph, or a table, or any sort of distinguishing pattern to work off of or to develop. Language statistics are more often than not presented as a current (at the time) figure. Something like “Bilingualism has increased 5% in the past five years” will be used with no qualitative or quantitative detail – 5% from what? Amongst whom? Where? So many questions.

The numbers i’ve used for this process are StatCan Census numbers reported as “Language Spoken at Home”. Each Census, StatCan will question residents on languages they speak at work, languages they can speak overall, and languages they prefer to use at home. Home languages are the easiest to base off of as a base population living in an area. Whatever language is more natural or your most comfortable is what you would use in your own personal space.

These numbers used in this are for single responses only, meaning households which reported speaking multiple languages at home were not included. These multiple responses are so infrequent (oftentimes less than 0.50% in any given area) that I saw fit not to include them in this exercise. These StatCan responses are compiled using a sample of 20% of respondents in any given area, so numbers are rounded. Some areas will exceed 100% in a given year whilst some may be under.

Again, i’ve utilized data sorted by County for New Brunswick. Counties are a consistent measure and their boundaries have not changed through any of these reporting periods. They provide for a reasonable sub-provincial level of analysis whilst being evenly split enough to provide for differences in trending.

Data is taken from the 1996 Census, 2006 Census, and 2011 Census. Data is unavailable for 2001 as the Language at Home question was not asked.

Anyway! On to the data:

The following map outlines the total number of English and French speakers by County in 2011. This map shows the heavily Anglophone-dominated South and Southwest and the Francophone dominated North and East. It’s important to note in this that Francophone majority counties do feature sizeable English populations (not including Madawaska) but the reverse is not true (not including Westmorland). Anglophone majority counties are heavily Anglophone with very small (relatively-speaking) Francophone minorities.


However, this map is static for 2011, so let’s look at the change in reporting numbers from 1996 to 2011.


Here the demographic picture begins to form. Francophone majority counties Madawaska, Restigouche, and Gloucester saw large decreases in both Francophone and Anglophone speakers. Anglophone majority counties like York and Kings saw big increases for Anglophones with minimal increases in Francophone numbers. Westmorland saw proportional growth for both linguistic groups.

Kent County is the outlier in this exercise. It is the only county where one language grew while the other declined. Between 1996 and 2011, Kent grew by 1,625 Anglophone respondents while Francophone respondents decreased by nearly 3,000. A change like this has a big impact on the proportion of people that speak each official language in each county.


Immediately with this map we can see the impact. In 1996 Kent County’s split was 21% Anglophone and 74% Francophone. In 2011 that has shifted to 28% Anglophone and 68% French – A 7% increase for Anglophone and a 6% decrease in Francophone respondents. Most other changes in the province were minimal. The increase in Francophone proportion in areas like Victoria and Restigouche is interesting to note. Both major linguistic groups decreased in these areas but the rate in which Anglophone decreased was greater than the rate that French decreased, even if the Francophone numbers decreased by a higher total number. Northumberland saw a 2% swing towards Anglophones at the expense of Francophones in that county.


York, Westmorland, and Saint John counties are home to New Brunswick’s three largest urban centres (Fredericton, Moncton, and Saint John respectively). In these areas, minimal movement is seen with the major languages. An Anglophone proportional decrease in York with a raw number increase; A raw number loss and proportion loss for both official languages in Saint John; and raw number growth for both languages in Westmorland with a slight proportional swing towards Francophone.

In these three major urban areas non-official languages are becoming more and more prominent.




Non-Official Languages are considered any language that is not one of the two official languages. This includes aboriginal languages as well as foreign languages, primarily spoken by immigrants. In all three of these areas non-official languages (immigrants) has grown by leaps and bounds compared to past decades. The total number of non-official languages spoken at home has more than doubled in New Brunswick in the past fifteen years. In York it has more than doubled; in Westmorland it has more than tripled, and in Saint John it has more than quadrupled. With Syrain refugees set to impact futue Census data, these figures should only increase as each of these cities have taken on hundreds of newcomers.

In fact, Non-official languages increased in 12 of NB’s 15 counties. Only Kent County, home to New Brunswick’s largest First Nations Reserve (Elsipogtog) saw a substantial decrease in non-official language usage at home.




Looking at Counties or large urban centres are ways of processing language data – but  we can always go deeper:


The town of Richibucto saw one of the larger swings for a municipality of significant size in New Brunswick. The usage of English as a home language increased from 27% in 1996 to 40% in 2011, with French decreasing from 72% to 57% in that same time span. Richibucto is one of many municipalities in the Moncton sphere of influence that saw similar trending, although to lesser degrees. Beaubassin-Est, Shediac (Town), Saint-Paul (Parish), and Dundas (Parish) all saw increases in English spoken at home. It is possible that Moncton’s suburban and rural growth is triggering an expansion of the English language in areas formerly dominated by Francophones.

As for Moncton, its numbers increased across the board as its population has increased. English increased by 6,500, French by 1,600, and Non-Official Languages by just shy of 1,000. Proportionally, English sits at 72%, French at 24%, and Non-Official at 2%. The following is for the Moncton CMA, areas immediately within Moncton’s sphere of influence, and areas heavily dependent on Moncton according to StatCan:


With these out of the way, we can take a quick look at Provincial numbers as a whole:




New Brunswick’s population in 2016 should continue to trend in a manner similar to how it trended between 2006 and 2011. There will likely be a non-official language bump consistent with current trending.

English spoken at home continues to increase where there is growth in New Brunswick. In NB’s three major cities, suburban growth is overwhelmingly Anglophone.

French spoken at home will likely continue to decline as Northern New Brunswick, consisting primarily of Restigouche and Gloucester counties, have shown no signs of rectifying their continued decrease in population. Part of this decrease is due to the relative age of residents in Northern New Brunswick compared to their Southern counterparts, but continued stagnation will affect this region’s population negatively. Estimates released by StatCan in the leadup to Census 2016 have shown no signs of these decreases slowing.

The continued growth of York, Kings, and Westmorland counties should contribute to an increasing proportion of New Brunswickers using English at home as a spoken language. With the continued decline of Gloucester, Restigouche, and Northumberland it is likely the proportion of French used as a spoken language at home will decrease. Non-Official languages should continue to trend positively in 2016, perhaps showing its strongest growth ever.

What we’re witnessing is a slowly growing span between the proportion of English and French in New Brunswick. With current trending that span looks to continue to grow with no reason to believe it won’t continue at a faster pace so long as Francophone counties continue to be of a higher median age with imminent decreases immediately thereafter.

The most interesting county to watch will be Kent County, at least from the numbers i’ve seen. Will it continue its shift towards English? The affect that Moncton’s boom in the Southeast is having on its environs can be seen in the increase of English as a spoken language on its border with Kent County. Parishes featuring Moncton commuters, Saint-Paul and Dundas among them, are becoming increasing Anglophone, while major centres within the county (Richibucto) are trending in that direction as well. Parity in Kent County may be closer to reality in 2016 than ever before in its history.

These statistics are important in attempting to find a trend in New Brunswick’s demographics. All language communities are vital to the nature of the province and the province would be lesser without them. The purpose of this exercise was to answer a couple of questions:

  • What affect is New Brunswick’s population increase having on Official Language usage and spread?
  • What affect is the growing number of immigrants having on local communities?
  • What affect is New Brunswick’s regional population decline having on Official Language usage and spread?

Part of this exercise was to build a framework to be in place for the release of the 2016 Census figures (due to begin releasing in February 2017). Once those numbers are released i’ll be able to plug them into these tables  and quickly find trends on provincial, regional, and local levels in New Brunswick relating to language use.

A Tale of Two Twinnings: Routes 7 & 11

New Brunswickers love their highways. New Brunswickers love talking about their highways. AND New Brunswickers love talking about what highways should be twinned next. It’s a common subject and one which can be brought up with any resident just about anywhere to get an opinion on the subject.

Because New Brunswick’s population is still made up of a significant rural population many residents are spread throughout the regions of the province. Although the province is not that large compared to an Ontario or a Quebec, a sizeable portion of its population lives outside of its major population centres, so having connecting highways that are both efficient and safe for travel are important to a large number of residents as well as businesses.

In total, New Brunswick has roughly 825KM of twinned, four-lane highway for a population hovering around 755,000.

A lot of discussion in the past has revolved around two Highways that likely should be twinned but haven’t been for whatever reason you’d like to believe. Some in Saint John will make the joke that there is no twinned highway to the Capital from Saint John for a good reason, and the lack thereof shows Fredericton’s contempt for the southern port city. Others, in Kent County, may point to political favouring and posturing as why Route 11 may not have been twinned in the past, or a dwindling population in rural parts of Northeastern New Brunswick. Others have been very pro-twinning, stating that it will bring economic impacts and tourists (more-so for Route 11) to areas currently underserved by them, whilst others go further and say twinning highways will pull tourists away from local towns (Charlotte County Route 1).

It’s a tricky and sometimes controversial subject.


Route 11 is, at this stage, the most likely to be twinned in New Brunswick as there is currently work being down to twin a short segment from Shediac Bridge to Shediac River. Initial, potential plans for Route 11 had it being twinned as far north as Miramichi, but as the following numbers indicate traffic does not warrant twinning that far north.

The following are AADT (Average Annual Daily Traffic) numbers for Route 11 from 2010, 2012, and 2014.


These numbers highlight increasing traffic between Shediac and Richibucto until it tails off further north before further tailing off the further one travels north. The Province of New Brunswick and Department of Transportation indicate that an AADT of roughly 8,000 is the amount required to investigate twinning of a segment of highway, and nearly all of Shediac to Richibucto will meet that in the near future with its current trending. The sections of Route 11 north of Richibucto barely meet half of that requirement currently.


The current project underway is twinning a section of Route 11 from Shediac Bridge to Shediac River, a short section of the southern portion of Route 11. Traffic dictates this is (or will be soon) needed further north towards Bouctouche. Further twinning north to Richibucto seems to be destined as well, although this will depend on political expediency and safety concerns.

Those that desire full twinning of Route 11 seem to be grasping at straws at least as far as the AADT numbers indicate. The numbers do not pick up high enough again until Route 11 is well into Miramichi and crossing the Miramichi River, and are only high enough for that river crossing. Although full twinning would provide a higher degree of safety for motorists the traffic numbers are not there to warrant it, and the CBC lists Route 11 as having a lower collision rate than other two-lane highways in the province.

In fact, one report on Route 11 twinning from 2012 found that safety concerns were not warranted on Route 11 compared to other routes in the province.


Route 7 is the primary highway route connecting two of New Brunswick’s largest population centres: Saint John & Fredericton. For a stretch of highway less than 100km in length connecting two major NB Cities it would seem obvious that this would have been twinned and would have the traffic necessary for that twinning. However, Department of Transportation’s AADT numbers tell a different story:


These numbers highlight Route 7’s stagnating, and in some areas decreasing, traffic trends. If we remove sections of Route 7 that are shared with Route 2 from Oromocto and Fredericton we’re left with a particular trend: The average traffic on Route 7 between Oromocto and Saint John has been decreasing from an average AADT of 6,201 in 2010, to 6,077 in 2012, to 5,750 in 2014. The biggest loss of traffic are in Nerepis (-210), Welsford (-1,270), and Petersville (-540). The North section near Geary and the South section nea Grand Bay have seen increases over this time frame.

On the whole it seems likely that Route 11 is on the precipice of twinning whilst Route 7 is heading in the opposite direction, at least for its full length. The newly opened twinned section which bypasses Welsford (and replaced an awful winding section which traveled through the time) seems to have dwindling traffic, or at least its numbers have fallen as the new bypass has replaced the old. Time will tell if these numbers continue to trend.

The People’s Alliance: Where to go from 2014?

Being the fifth out of five parties is not an enviable position to be in for the People’s Alliance of New Brunswick. It’s been six years since the party was first formed and it is interesting to note the direction it has taken in those six years. Formed seemingly as a protest party it has developed nicely into a fringe party in the province, slowly eating away at the popular support of the bigger parties. But where do these votes come from – and where will they come from in the future?

Despite garnering only 2.14% of popular support in the 2014 election there is a bit more going on than that. Running a slim slate of 18 candidates (in 49 ridings) the party received 5.88% of popular support in ridings it ran in. The highest  received was leader Kris Austin’s 28.48% in Fredericton-Grand Lake. Due to the joys of vote-splitting within the first-past the-post electoral method, Austin lost his riding by a mere 25 votes behind the PCs Pam Lynch. Liberal Sheri Shannon finished 47 votes behind Austin, meaning that all three finished within a percentage point of each other.

Other PANB candidates saw varying degrees of success. Former Liberal Leroy Armstrong received 10.39% of the vote in Sussex-Fundy-St. Martins, good for third behind the PCs and Liberals. Wes Gullison received 8.61% in Southwest Miramichi-Bay du Vin, again good for third in that riding. Three other PANB candidates received over 5% popular support in their ridings. Compare this to 2010’s results where only three candidates received over 5% in their ridings (with Austin topping at 19.95%) and the improvement is obvious.


The overall improvement is a popular vote total increasing from 4,389 in 2010 to 7,964 in 2014, a total improvement of 1.18% to 2.14%. What is even more important to note is where these votes come from, and in what ridings the PANB does well in. All of the ridings are similar, and all of the areas where they succeed in receiving votes are similar as well.

In the Albert riding, where Bill Brewer received 7.66% of the total vote, these votes were gleaned from the more rural areas of the riding. Hillsborough voted 11.58% for PANB, and 12.20% in Riverside-Albert. This is compared to sub-4% in the more urban Riverview. LeRoy Armstrong’s results in Sussex-Fundy-St. Martins are similar. His total of 10.39% is buffeted by 12.84% received in areas like Bloomfield, Passekeag, and Moosehorn Creek. Armstrong was second in voting in Apohaqui and a consistent third place through Roachville and Penobsquis. However, in more metro Sussex, he lost ground to the NDP and Liberals, the latter of which he would push for second in some rural areas of the riding.


Similar numbers can be seen in Joyce Wright in Charlotte-Campobello and, of course, with leader Kris Austin in Fredericton-Grand Lake – where Austin easily swept Chipman and Minto before losing support as the riding moved towards Fredericton. Gullison’s numbersare aided by a 28% showing (and 2nd place) in Upper Miramichi, which evaporates to just above 2% in Baie-Ste-Anne.

The ridings where the PANB received more than 5% of the total vote are the following:

  • Southwest Miramichi-Bay du Vin
  • Albert
  • Sussex-Fundy-St.Martins
  • Charlotte-Campobello 
  • Fredericton-Grand Lake 
  • Carleton-York

None of these ridings are within the Big Three cities of New Brunswick, although a few are on their borders. These ridings are mostly rural and encompass some medium-sized centres, most notably Sussex and St. Stephen.

So what does this all mean? Simply put, the PANB does well in Angolophone, rural New Brunswick. This isn’t an overly shocking revelation. For the PANB, they’re a simple, easy, and rather straightforward party with simple, easy, and relatable policy points. They do have some lofty goals that I think would be difficult to implement (such as free voting for MLAs in the Legislature) but I think some of their policies are well-intentioned moving forward.

With the future of rural NB very much up in the air (as noted on this blog frequently), and a population increasingly becoming urbanized, are the PANB going to be the party that represents the dwindling rural population of the province? Perhaps. For the PANB to increase their support they’ll need the rural population for sure, but will also need to break in a bit more in more urban areas. Of course, the PANB would benefit from a larger slate as well, and would do well with candidates in Gagetown-Petitcodiac and New Maryland-Sunbury. The issue of Francophone voters will have to be resolved over time: PANB candidates in Kent North and Kent South received 1.44% and 1.96% respectively in 2014.

In 2010 PANB only fielded 14 candidates in 55 ridings (25% of ridings). In 2014 that number increased to 18 candidates in 49 ridings (37%). For 2018, i’d imagine a good goal for them to have would be having candidates in at least half of the province’s ridings. That means finding seven more candidates. The PANB fared decently well in some ridings in 2010 for which they had no candidates in for 2014, including areas like Miramichi, Saint John and the Fundy Isles. Expanding in areas like suburban Fredericton and filling in the remainder of the rural anglophone ridings would likely see them poke above the 10,000 vote barrier with their current trending.

What would help the PANB immensely would be Austin winning his riding in 2018, similar to the Greens breaking through in Fredericton-South in 2014 with David Coon. Having that exposure and ability to have an outlet on the public stage would be huge for the party in legitimizing itself. A lot of voters in NB think that the PANB are an anti-Francophone party and are keen to place their votes elsewhere. Having their leader in the Legislature would legitimize them immensely and help with their exposure moving forward. Exposure to the public is key, as well as not looking like a temporary fixture. The PANB are moving there slowly but surely, which will require patience and a keen eye for policy points. So far the party and Austin have done well in that regard.

In terms of other parties, a lot depends on the future of the PC Party Leadership race. The PANB are surely hoping a candidate like Monica Barley comes out as the winner. Having other hopefuls win, like Jake Stewart or Mike Allen, would almost certainly eat into PANB’s rural vote and provide for a big roadblock for their increased exposure. Having Barley win wouldn’t affect their goal areas as much, it has to be said.

The Liberal Government’s policies have come across varyingly in different areas of the province. One area that should be noted is St. Stephen, where the Liberals were pushing for the alteration/reduction of services to the hospital in that town, leading to protest. PANB has garnered over 6% of the vote in Charlotte-Campobello the past two elections and one has to think that number will rise as more and more pressure is applied to the rural area from Fredericton and the larger urban centres. The PANB must be watching the situation closely, just as leader Kris Austin was with the Potash Mine closure in Sussex earlier on in the Liberal mandate. These are prime areas for the PANB to make some serious gains in 2018.


New Brunswick’s Shifting Population

New Brunswick’s population has seen a relative, but modest, rise in the past 25 years compared to other provinces in Canada. New Brunswick has continually ranked 8th (out of 10, rising to 13 provinces and territories) in total population for over 100 years between 1911 and 2011.

Between 1991 and 2011 NB’s population has increased from 723,900 to 751,171. PEI has seen a fairly steady annual rise in its population, climbing from 129,765 to 140,204 in that same time period. Nova Scotia has climbed from 899,942 to 921,727.These numbers easily pale in comparison to larger provinces in the country which routinely bring in thousands of new citizens each year (which is another issue altogether revolving around immigration).

Most important amongst these numbers is the urban/rural division of population. It’s became a large trend in the 20th century and is only now beginning to pick up steam in Atlantic Canada…the biggest reason for this would be the economies of which Atlantic Canada was based upon: Agriculture, Fishing, Forestry. These are all very rural economies in comparison to, for example, manufacturing.

Urban/rural division is important because it can significantly alter how a province delivers its services and how it runs on a day to day basis. Nova Scotia has one very large urban centre which accounts for nearly half of its provincial population (Halifax) and as such most of Nova Scotia’s major institutions, schools, and services are found in this centre. New Brunswick, on the other hand, has three smaller urban centres which do not reach half of the province’s population (although they’re getting closer) which leads to services, institutions, and schools being spread throughout. It’s a bit more expensive and cumbersome when a province is trying to grow when everything is spread out.

The Canadian national average in 2011 was 81% Urban and 19% Rural. NB sat at 53/48, with only PEI having a lower % of urban population. The biggest difference between Canada’s largest provinces and its smallest? Canada’s largest provinces (Ontario, Quebec, Alberta, BC) all have Urban percentages north of 80%. In fact, ONT and QC haven’t been at NB’s 53/47 split since 1921 and 1911 respectively. To put it one way, NB is a century behind the urban/rural development split of Ontario.


NL 59/41
PEI 47/53
NS 57/43
NB 53/48
QC 81/19
ONT 86/14
MB 72/28
SSK 67/33
AB 83/17
BC 86/14

NB’s rural population hit a high of 378,686 in 1991 and has been falling ever since [1991 is a convenient year as it’s the earliest Census data that I have access to]. Between the five-year census periods NB’s rural population has fallen anywhere between 16K and 1K in each period. The Urban population, on the other hand, has risen from anywhere between 15K and 6.5K. During the period of 1991-2011 NB’s Urban % has gone from 48% to 53%, with rural of course going in the opposite direction.

For definition’s sake, StatCan refers to population centres of under 1,000 or with less than 400 persons per sq. km as “rural”.

But we can get deeper than just province-wide numbers. Where is that rural population depleting? Where is that urban population increasing? What are the pros and cons to this shift?


What i’ve done with the data is fairly simple. I’ve gone into each City, Town, Village, and Parish in NB and tracked their population through each census between 1991 and 2011. Using that, i’ve grouped the province into 55 units focused around a town or population centre. In 2011, the smallest centre in population would be “Canterbury”, which consists of the area roughly of Canterbury Parish, Canterbury Village, Meductic Village, and North Lake Parish. The largest population centre is Moncton, consisting of the City and the Parish of Moncton.

The subregion with the biggest % drop in population between 1991 and 2011 is “Gloucester Nord”, consisting of New Bandon, Saint-Leolin, Maisonette, Grande Anse, and Bertrand. Collectively they’ve gone from a population of 5,566 in 1991 to 4,131 in 2011. This area loses roughly 500 people each five years. As Bertrand and New Bandon were both over 1,000 people in 2011 it is entirely possible for both of them to drop from “Urban” to “Rural” for 2016, further exacerbating rural drop (at least in the eyes of StatCan).

The runner-up subregion for population lost between 1991-2011 is “Sainte-Anne – Saint-Leonard” in Northwest NB. Declining -20.90% in those twenty years, or roughly 1% per year. The biggest fallers in this subregion are Ste-Anne-de-Madawaska, Saint-Andre, Riviere-Verte, and Notre-Dames-des-Lourdes

Other subregions with significant population drops from 1991-2011 include Balmoral (-18.74%), Campbellton-Dalhousie (-17.97%), Rogersville (-15.39%), and Shippagan (-15.11%). See a trend in any of these?


On the flipside, some areas have grown by leaps and bounds. Dieppe, in another universe to all others, increased by 118.87% between 1991 and 2011 (10,650 to 23,310). Harvey-Kingsclear by 33.38% in this time period. Kennebecasis (Quispamsis/Rothesay) by 22.40%. Moncton by 20.59%. See a trend in any of these?

Saint John was the only of the Big 3 Cities to show a decline during this period. Saint John’s decline is supplemented by an increase in its surrounding suburban areas, particularly in Quispamsis.

Most important in these numbers is the strong growth in the suburbs of the Big 3. Dieppe’s growth is (partly) due to its proximity to Moncton. The growth in the Kennebecasis Valley can be attributed to its proximity to Saint John. The growth in Kingsclear to Fredericton. We can look at these numbers and come to the conclusion that the City of Saint John is losing population but that statement would neglect the growth that’s occurring just outside of its border. Although these suburbs are not “urban” it is much easier to service them than someone living in a much more rural, distant area.

(The Finn Report (2008) actually touched on suburban citizens leeching off of urban services in the cities; which would in turn raise taxes and fees on those living in the cities. It’s a fascinating read.)


All of the largest fallers were located in Northern New Brunswick. All of the largest climbers were located in Southern New Brunswick. It’s no secret that the North is losing population and the South is gaining population. Are the two related? Perhaps.

Northern decline can be linked to the relative age of its population and the lack of a substantial, dependent, widespread economy and industry. Northern New Brunswick is older and more rural than their counterparts in the south. Restigouche has a median age of 48.7, with over 20% of its residents over 65. Gloucester county has similar numbers.

To put this plainly: The rural areas of the province that are declining are also its oldest, meaning that this decline is only going to continue at a faster rate as the baby boomers enter retirement. How quickly this decline will quicken remains to be seen, but without any sort of youth injection in these areas it seems unlikely they’ll ever recover from their current trajectories.


Jean-Guy Finn makes a quick note about cost-servicing as age increases:

“Shifts in population will also impact the nature of services delivered. As populations in some communities age, service requirements will also change. For example, recreation programs and facilities may need to be adjusted, transit systems may have to be improved or made more accessible, and land use plans may have to be adjusted to better reflect evolving housing needs.”

Although Finn’s Report highlights the need to coordinate local governments better to be more effective for the taxpayers within them it also highlights a changing environment in New Brunswick. That environment is that suburban and urban centres are growing whilst rural centres, and unincorporated areas, are declining.

The following is a list of all 55 subregions i’ve created for the purpose of this examination:


The common trend is gains made by the Big 3 Cities and their suburban units with big falls to more rural urban centres or northern centres. Not a single subregion that could be classified as “Northern” grew in population for the period 1991 to 2011. In fact, many of them dropped a fifth or sixth of their 1991 population. These trends will continue due to the relative average age of these areas, either through relocation or, more glumly, attrition.

On the other hand, the Big 3 and their suburban units fared very well and shared almost all of the population growth for this period of twenty years. In Oromcto, despite the Town of Oromocto declining in population, both Lincoln parish and Burton parish increased at a faster rate than Oromocto declined.

In Westmorland you can almost see the ripple effect that Moncton is having on that county. Moncton’s 20% growth became 118.87% in Dieppe, which becomes 21.88% in Shediac, which becomes 6.82% in Westmorland East. By the time we reach Sackville, the growth tapers off to 0.58%. The same is true in the Western direction as well, with growth being seen in Petitcodiac/Salisbury. These can almost be attributed to distance to the major urban centre, with high growth seen within a sort-of half hour circle of the city. By the time we reach Sackville, Hillsborough, or Bouctouche that growth tapers off due to relative distance from the City.

Another area that is worth investigation is the shared areas between the Big 3 cities. Are they growing? The answer is yes (and no). The corridor between Moncton and Saint John, which i’ll refer to as the Kings County Corridor (KCC) has been growing steadily for the past twenty years. Kennebecasis saw 22.40% growth, Central Kings 8.42% growth, Sussex 2.11% growth. Petitcodiac/Salisbury 7.04% growth. This distance phenomenon occurs again: Growth dissipates as you exit Saint John and bottoms out roughly 45 minutes away in Sussex before increasing again as you near Moncton. Sussex is almost exactly halfway between the two and that subregion has the lowest growth of the KCC. It’s no coincidence.

The corridor between Saint John and Fredericton is a bit different as the majority of it is a very large military base, Canadian Forces Base Gagetown. There isn’t much room for development here. The corridor between Moncton and Fredericton is a bit different, however. The area of Grand Lake, consisting of  Cambridge-Narrows and Coles Island on the Trans-Canada Highway has still seen steady decline despite being between the two. The major decline in Grand Lake is due to the decline of Chipman and Minto, which are separated from the Big 3 and on no real route to anywhere of major urban importance. If our distance theory is correct this is due to the fact that these areas are in excess of 30/45 minutes from the major centres. Oromocto, which lies on the route to both Moncton and Saint John from Fredericton, has seen steady growth.

What we can discern from these numbers is that the Big 3, the large urban, suburban, and exurban areas are driving all of the growth in New Brunswick and will continue to do so. It’s areas like Minto, Chipman, McAdam, Campbellton, and Shippagan which no longer have relatively strong local economies and are not convenient to major urban centres that are going to continue their decline. Centres like Miramichi, Bathurst, Edmundston, and Grand Falls-Grand Sault are simply too separated from larger, growth-driven areas to benefit from any of that periphery growth themselves.

The 2016 Census is going to be a continuation of this trend and it’s going to be great for some areas and very poor for others. If the Provincial government were wise it would be looking at these numbers with both hope and concern and would be altering the service models in order to accommodate these changes.

Interprovincial Trade Barriers

Recently Interprovincial Trade Barriers (IPTBs) have been in the news in New Brunswick for the case of Gerard Comeau, whose alcohol purchased in Quebec was seized upon re-entry into NB. Since then the entire case has been a roller coaster giving us a pretty good example of why IPTBs are so terrible to begin with.


Recently I had the opportunity to write on IPTBs which will be posted below. Although it focuses on Alberta’s economy (as was required at the time for the article in question) the same can apply to New Brunswick. IPTBs are a Provincial mechanism used to protect the Province in question from being taken advantage of by other provinces through export/import variables in trade. Consider it like children building forts in the living room and bothering each other whilst the parent, in this case the Federal Government, ignores or pretends they’re not doing this at all. Over time the lack of cooperation will be detrimental, but it’s difficult to convince one province alone to remove their IPTBs whilst the others still benefit from them.

This is precisely why Federal leadership needs to happen on the IPTB file, or more ridiculous cases such as Comeau’s will continue to occur.

Interprovincial Trade Barriers

Interprovincial Trade Barriers (IPTBs) in Canada are denying access throughout the country to export-oriented businesses seeking to move their products outside of the borders of their province. As the Federal Government continues to sign free-trade agreements with dozens of countries around the world the domestic trade environment within Canada is stymied – trade barriers prevent many businesses from expanding and capitalizing on new and emerging markets. This Policy Resolution recommends abolishing current trade barriers in Canada and proposes the Federal Government take action in creating a trade-free domestic zone throughout Canada for Canadian businesses.

The MacDonald-Laurier Institute’s report on IPTBs (2010) titled “Citizen of One”  estimated a very conservative figure of $8 billion per year was lost due to provincial trade barriers – or roughly $242 per Canadian; $940 for a family of four. Due to changes in national Gross Domestic Product (GDP) each year, that number can swing up to 2% higher or lower each year.[1] Canada’s Public Policy Forum, when exploring the impacts of IPTBs in 2013, found that interprovincial trade has increased despite these barriers – up from a total of $107B in 1984 to $177B in 1998. Alberta had consistently the third highest interprovincial trade import and export numbers in Canada, only behind Ontario and Quebec.[2]

The agreement currently in place which covers trade barriers in Canada is the Agreement on Internal Trade (1994) (AIT) which was concluded prior to the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) coming into effect.  Although the AIT benefited the procurement processes in many provinces by 2016 standards it is outdated and in need of replacing. Because provinces can individually sign trade agreements amongst themselves the AIT has become outdated. In 2010 Alberta, British Columbia, and Saskatchewan signed The New West Partnership Trade Agreement (NWPTA)[3].  This agreement was reached to remove barriers on labour movement whilst also removing some fees, levies, and taxes on services and goods moving between the provinces. Although beneficial for these provinces more still needs to be done as these barriers still exist with other provinces.

Goods and services that have extreme difficulty moving through borders are alcohol, professional businesses (accountants, dentists), chicken products, and dairy products. Because provinces are not standardized on items such as transportation of goods this leads to issues where each province has different rules for how transportation companies can operate. Many provinces have different standards and regulations for certification of different professions.

Provinces are individually responsible for accreditation of numerous professions which makes ease of movement difficult for relocating professionals as well as protecting residing professionals from competition. Regulations in place for the issuers of securities, for example, require them to comply to 13 different regulations across the country; one for each province and territory. Regulations such as this make Canada a less attractive market to foreign investors, and create unnecessary costs on Canadian businesses. [4]

Current trade barriers also mean that provinces give preferential treatment to local, provincially-based companies and corporations bidding on government contracts. Local companies can undercut a more qualified bid from a company in a neighbouring province quite easily.

In August 2014 the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) released an open letter to Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne asking that the Premiers reform the AIT and bring it into the 21st century. Headed by the CFIB, the open letter was signed by the CEOs of Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters, The Dairy Processors Association of Canada, Restaurants Canada, The Canadian Chamber of Commerce, and the Canadian Council of Chief Executives, amongst others. Their goal was to open domestic Canadian trade markets and make Canada more open for business for Canadian companies. [5]

Other countries have benefited greatly from reforming IPTBs and removing red tape for their businesses. Two examples are Australia and Switzerland; both have provinces (states and cantons, respectively) which are similar to Canada’s in the makeup of their federal systems. Their agreements were based on mutual recognition of products created in those countries. This would work in Canada by creating mutual recognition for any product created in Canada, meaning that if mutually recognized it could move to any other location in the country and not be subject to taxes or fees. Canadian provinces have agreed on mutual recognition in the past when attempting to update AIT.

Writing in 2014, the Managing Director of the MacDonald-Laurier Institute, Brian Lee Crowley, pleaded with then Minister of Industry James Moore to take a hard-line approach to the reform of IPTBs in Canada[6]. He argued that because the provinces have created the very barriers that exist today it is unfeasible to ask them to remove them on their own. Thus, it was proposed, that Ottawa take the rare step in leading on this policy file. Minister Moore estimated at the time that lost business in Canada due to interprovincial trade barriers totaled over $50 billion –

Crowley guessed it was a much higher figure than that – he was under the belief that Ottawa was playing too “nice” with the Provinces and it was time to take charge.

Resolving Interprovincial Trade Barriers


 Encourage the Federal Government of Canada, via the Minister of Industry, to remove current IPTBs in Canada and to replace them with a Federal Act which would harmonize and open up the Canadian domestic market for businesses seeking to export interprovincially.

  • Create an Act of Parliament which would:
    • Remove and prohibit restrictive trade barriers between provinces. Take into consideration some provinces delicate economies
    • This would replace the AIT and BNA Act 1867 – both of which allow provinces to create IPTBs
  • Create a new Charter for Economic Activity in Canada, which would outline internal trade and open up provinces for business with each other
    • Create a Commission of Economic Activity which would hear grievances from provinces and companies and oversee larger-scale issues as they arise
    • Encourage accreditation of professional services to be aligned amongst provinces. This can include lawyers, dentists, accountants, etc.
    • Revise procurement practices in Canada and prevent local/regional monopolies over government contract bidding
    • Encourage the transportation industry to be harmonized throughout Canada. Create one national weighting, registration, and design system for vehicles transporting goods.
    • Ensure no overlap is made with past or retained trade barriers, if necessary (NWTPA, etc.)
    • Merge provincial boards into reformed national boards (Dairy, etc.)
  • That the Minister of Industry be responsible for said Economic Activity Charter and Commission.







Urban and Suburban Voting Patterns and Trends

The past decade has been a turbulent one for sitting Governments in New Brunswick. In three consecutive elections in 2006, 2010, and 2014 the incumbent government has lost. The 2014 election continued this trend by ushering out the Alward PC Government and voting in the Gallant Liberal Government. There were various reasons for why this occurred – this article will examine urban and suburban centres of the province, analyzing how much the urban and suburban vote is increasing as a percentage of the total provincial vote.

New Brunswick’s three largest municipalities are Fredericton, Moncton, and Saint John. Surrounding these cities are suburbs which are not within the municipal boundaries of these larger cities. For this article I have separated suburb voting from city voting and at times have also merged them to create something called “Metropolitan Voting”. The metropolitan areas break down as follows:

Greater Fredericton: Fredericton, Hanwell, Lincoln, Oromocto, New Maryland
Greater Moncton: Dieppe, Moncton, Riverview
Greater Saint John: Grand Bay-Westfield, Quispamsis, Rothesay, Saint John

Similar to proposals and recommendations found in the Finn Report on Local Governance (2009) which emphasized creating regional municipalities combining urban cities and their suburban municipal partners I have combined the two to create a voting bloc. There are voting trends within these municipalities, of course, as well as within their own metropolitan areas.

Official voting turnout dropped by nearly five percentage points between the 2010 and 2014 elections. Turnout in the Metropolitan areas were as follows:

Province of New Brunswick 2010 – 69.56%
Province of New Brunswick 2014 – 64.65%

Greater Fredericton 2010 – 64.39%
Greater Fredericton 2014 – 65.72%

Greater Moncton 2010 – 65.31%
Greater Moncton 2014 – 59.45%

Greater Saint John 2010 – 60.88%
Greater Saint John 2014 – 56.55%

Without spending too much time dwelling on why turnout decreased (varying pertinent issues, incumbent governments, policies, etc.) I will instead examine the change in the raw number of votes. New Brunswick’s demographics are slowly shifting away from rural voters to urban and suburban based voters. New Brunswick lags behind other provinces in this regard but it nonetheless is still happening (and will speed up as rural areas become older). This can be seen in the recent redistribution of provincial ridings in 2012 & 2013 where the overall number of ridings decreased from 55 for the 2010 Election to 49 in the 2014 Election. Northern New Brunswick lost the most ridings as a percentage of total seats as their demographic change has warranted it, whereas Southeastern New Brunswick, an area of growth, saw very little change in their ridings (losing 0.5 of a riding).

As a result of this the urban and suburban areas (“Metropolitan Areas”) have increased their share of ridings, and therefore influence in the legislature and government, as their demographic might has increased. In the 2010 Election the Metropolitan Areas accounted for the following percentages of total votes cast in the Province:
Greater Fredericton – 8.84%
Greater Moncton – 13.38%
Greater Saint John – 11.83%
Total Combined – 34.06%

Here are the same numbers for 2014:
Greater Fredericton – 9.83%
Greater Moncton – 13.77%
Greater Saint John – 11.71%
Total Combined – 35.31%

Overall the Metro Areas combined saw a 1.25% increase in their share of total votes cast in a four year span. This increase includes a lower turnout percentage (63.47% in 2010 to 60.02%) in the three combined, meaning that their total number of electors as a percentage of provincial electors increased by a larger margin than their vote totals. We see a large gain in Metro Fredericton with modest gains in Moncton and Saint John. Although the City of Saint John saw its percentage go down the Metro area of the City still increased thanks to a population, and therefore a voter, increase in Quispamsis.

Metropolitan Area Voting Patterns
Metropolitan Voting Area figures for 2010 and 2014 Provincial Elections

Within the metropolitan areas the numbers become more obvious. Dieppe, New Brunswick’s fastest growing city, has increased from having roughly 13,000 electors (eligible voters) in 2003 to having nearly 19,000 in 2014. Because New Brunswick’s ridings average roughly 11,500/12,000 electors Dieppe’s influence has gone from the equivalent of one riding to one and a half (and nearly two by 2018) ridings in the span of a decade.

In terms of voting power Dieppe’s share of votes cast in Provincial elections has increased from 2.28% in 2003 to 3.32% in 2014. This doesn’t appear like a large increase until you compare it to other municipalities across the province:

Dieppe 2.28% – 2003 – 1.84% Bathurst
Dieppe 2.66% – 2006 – 1.91% Bathurst
Dieppe 3.03% – 2010 – 1.92% Bathurst
Dieppe 3.32% – 2014 – 1.62% Bathurst


You can do this for a number of different municipalities going in opposite directions. In the 2014 election Hanwell and Lincoln had more combined voters than Campbellton for the first time in the province’s history. Campbellton has had the biggest drop of any large municipality in the province in terms of voting power:
Campbellton – 1.82% – 1999
Campbellton – 1.24% – 2003
Campbellton – 1.27% – 2006
Campbellton – 1.19% – 2010
Campbellton – 0.96% – 2014

That’s Campbellton’s voting power in the province cut in half in 15 years, and a raw drop in voters from 7,185 in 1999 to 3,564 in 2014. Demographic trends mean that these numbers will continue to decrease for Campbellton and other municipalities not connected to the larger Metropolitan Areas.

Suburban and other Metro Voting Patterns
Although no mention of them was made i’ve included party performance in each municipality with no additional comment.

What’s most obvious is that New Brunswick’s suburbs of major cities are carrying the most growth in population and that means an increase in total voters. The suburbs of Dieppe, Grand Bay-Westfield, Hanwell, Lincoln, New Maryland, Oromocto, Rothesay, and Quispamsis accounted for 8.35% of total votes cast in the 2010 election. Four years later this figure increased to 9.97%. In raw numbers that is an increase from 31,100 voters to 37,066 voters despite total voter turnout decreasing.

To make things simpler, the total number of eligible voters in New Brunswick’s suburbs increased from 52,068 in 2010 to 57,867 in 2014. With most parts of the province stalling on population growth, and dropping in many rural areas, the suburbs are increasing their clout as a voting bloc in the province.