New Brunswick’s incumbent agriculture minister is among the election-night casualties for Premier David Alward’s Tories as the provincial Liberals get set to return to government.
Michael Olscamp, the Tories’ minister of agriculture, aquaculture and fisheries since 2010 and MLA for the Sackville-area riding of Tantramar, lost his seat Monday against Bernard LeBlanc, the Liberals’ MLA for Memramcook-Lakeville-Dieppe and a former minister of justice.
The two incumbent MLAs faced each other for the new riding of Memramcook-Tantramar in this election, as part of a constituency merger that cut the provincial legislature’s seat count to 49 from 55.
Olscamp, an MLA since 2006 [Related story] and the Tories’ agriculture critic before the 2010 election, was defeated Monday by a spread of 1,478 votes.
Alward held his own riding of Carleton on Monday night against Liberal challenger Tom Reid, a trucking business owner and former potato farmer, but his Tories were cut to just 21 of 49 seats.
The Liberals’ new leader Brian Gallant won his riding of Shediac Bay-Dieppe against Tory challenger Dolores Poirier, a former depanneur (convenience store) owner, and led his party to a 27-seat majority.
Green Party leader David Coon also scored a breakthrough Monday, winning his riding of Fredericton South for the party’s first-ever seat in the province.
Gallant’s new caucus includes a handful of MLAs with resumes in agriculture to replace Olscamp as ag minister — among them the Liberals’ most recent ag critic, Bertrand LeBlanc.
LeBlanc held the riding of Kent North on Monday for the Liberals by a spread of almost 3,000 votes over his closest challenger, Green candidate and organic farmer Rebeka Frazer-Chiasson.
A licensed practical nurse (LPN) by profession, LeBlanc was mayor for the village of Rogersville before jumping to provincial politics in 2010, as MLA for what was then Rogersville-Kouchibouguac.
Other possibilities among the rookies in the new Liberal caucus include Andrew Harvey, a maple syrup producer and restaurateur, who won the riding of Carleton-Victoria on Monday against the Tories’ Colin Lockhart by a spread of just 83 votes.
Another Liberal candidate, Wilfred Roussel, a former newspaper editor in Quebec, bought and ran a cider orchard at Rougemont, Que. in 2006 before returning to his home province and becoming mayor of the village of LeGoulet.
Roussel on Monday night defeated Paul Robichaud, Alward’s deputy premier and a former ag minister (2000-01), by a spread of just 44 votes in the riding of Shippagan-Lameque-Miscou. — AGCanada.com Network