New Brunswick Liberal Leader Brian Gallant and wife Karine Lavoie, right, leave a press conference following meeting with Lieutenant Governor of New Brunswick Jocelyne Roy-Vienneau, in Fredericton on Tuesday, Sept. 25, 2018. (James West/The Canadian Press)

B.C. could provide clues as to how New Brunswick electoral results shake out

Premier Christy Clark faced a strikingly similar scenario following the province’s 2017 election

New Brunswick voters are heading down a potentially bumpy road with hidden twists, but the recent electoral odyssey in British Columbia could provide a useful roadmap.

And, as in B.C., the ultimate navigator on the journey might be the lieutenant-governor, highlighting the considerable — though rarely used — powers the unelected viceregal representatives enjoy.

Brian Gallant is exercising his right to show the Liberals can govern New Brunswick despite winning just 21 seats, compared to the Tories’ 22, in Monday’s provincial ballot.

Gallant met Tuesday with Lt.-Gov. Jocelyne Roy-Vienneau to discuss the election, in which two smaller parties won three seats apiece.

The next step will be to recall the legislature for a throne speech and see if his government enjoys enough support from other members to govern and pass legislation.

B.C.’s Christy Clark faced a strikingly similar scenario following the province’s 2017 election when no party won a majority of seats. Clark convened the legislature, but her Liberals were defeated on a confidence vote just seven days later.

VIDEO: “I am done with public life,” says Christy Clark

Clark stepped down and asked the province’s then lieutenant-governor, Judith Guichon, to call a fresh election. Instead, Guichon invited NDP Leader John Horgan to form a minority government and he has since governed with the support of Green Party Leader Andrew Weaver’s handful of members in a sometimes uneasy partnership.

What if, like Clark, Gallant fails to attract enough ad-hoc support to see his legislative plans through?

It would suddenly be up to Roy-Vienneau to examine the situation and decide whether another election would be worthwhile.

She would consider whether it was appropriate to have another ballot so soon and, in the alternative, whether Tory Leader Blaine Higgs could fare any better in cobbling together support, said Don Desserud, a University of Prince Edward Island political science professor and native New Brunswicker who keeps a close eye on the province.

“That’ll be a very interesting constitutional question for our lieutenant-governor to answer, but that is part of the job. It rarely happens, but here we are,” he said Tuesday in an interview.

“These are the sort of things that once in a while remind us that we do have a system that was created in the 19th century, and some of the institutions we have are somewhat arcane.”

Lieutenant-governors can pass their entire term without having to make a crucial call on a government’s fate, he noted. “But it does bring to mind the fact that this is a very important position and should be thought of that way.”

In late 2008, Michaelle Jean, the governor general at the time, was thrust into the centre of a political drama when the opposition parties in Ottawa forged a plan to defeat the Conservative minority government of Stephen Harper on a non-confidence motion, just six weeks after a general election.

But the motion — fuelled by the government’s controversial fiscal update — did not come to a vote, as Jean agreed to a prorogation of Parliament on condition it reconvene early the following year.

Harper created an ad-hoc advisory committee to help choose the next governor general, David Johnston, in 2010. He built on that process two years later with a permanent, non-partisan advisory committee on vice-regal appointments, but the Trudeau Liberals shunned the panel after coming to office in 2015.

Making the viceregal positions elected offices would require a constitutional amendment with unanimous consent of all of the provinces, Desserud said.

That would be a steep challenge, particularly given the lack of appetite on the part of successive federal governments to even think about reopening the Constitution following Brian Mulroney’s ill-fated attempts.

However, Desserud suggests there may be ”more transparent ways” to appoint the governor general and their provincial counterparts.

“It would at least be worthy of a debate and a discussion.”

Jim Bronskill , The Canadian Press

Just Posted

Single-vehicle crash on Highway 97 south of Vernon

Second crash on Highway 97 near Vernon Sunday

Being vegan during the holidays just got a little bit better

Cook up these delicious options during the holidays

Big White’s Big Reds Wine Festival grows in popularity

More than 600 guests attended the event

Crash on Highway 97 south of Vernon slows traffic

There is currently no word on the cause of the single-vehicle incident

Cookies and puppies at the Kelowna BC SPCA

The Kelowna BC SPCA is hosting it’s annual Christmas bake sale on Dec. 15

UPDATE: Hedley residents will be without water for at least one week

Elevated levels of coliform and arsenic leave small town dry

Boeser scores 3, Pettersson has 5 points as Canucks hammer Blues

Vancouver picks up impressive 6-1 win in St. Louis

Cold case files: Murdered woman still unidentified after 44 years

Penticton RCMP releasing info on historical missing person and found human remains investigations

Okanagan Valley to see snow tonight

Environment Canada is calling for two-to-four centimetres of snow from Penticton to Salmon Arm

B.C. police stop drunk driver who offered up burger instead of ID

Roadblock checks over the weekend found at least two other impaired drivers

In Canada, the term ‘nationalism’ doesn’t seem to have a bad rap. Here’s why

Data suggest that Canadians don’t see the concept of nationalism the way people do in the United States

Update: Sicamous and Tumbler Ridge neck and neck in the Sled Town Showdown

Both communities in the final round have amassed over 10,000 votes

Small quake recorded west of Vancouver Island

No injuries or tsunami warning after 5.4 rumble felt some 400 kilometres from Victoria

Most Read