New Brunswick general election, 1978
|This article does not cite any references or sources. (December 2009)|
The 29th New Brunswick general election was held on October 23, 1978, to elect 58 members to the 49th New Brunswick Legislative Assembly, the governing house of the province of New Brunswick, Canada. Richard Hatfield's Progressive Conservative Party narrowly won its third term.
In the lead up to 1978, the Opposition Liberal Party seemed destined to return to power. A number of scandals had been tied to the Conservatives and Liberal leader Robert Higgins was widely popular. In early 1978, Higgins believed he had tied some of the scandals directly to Hatfield himself. In a bold move, Higgins promised to resign should Hatfield prove that he was not tied directly to the scandal, which Hatfield promptly did. Higgins was forced to abruptly resign and was replaced by Joseph Daigle as leader. The Liberals mused that Hatfield had purposely ensured false information was leaked to the Liberals to lead them into making false accusations.
Higgins' resignation created Hatfield's best chance to go to the polls. He called an election shortly after Daigle became Liberal leader. Despite the lack of a direct link to Hatfield, scandal remained tied to his government and a close election result was assured.
Hatfield's government was not entirely clean, however. The Liberals pointed to the Conservatives' budgets, which no longer maintained a surplus. The Bricklin failure was also fresh on voters' minds. While campaigning in anglophone sections of the province, Hatfield accused Daigle of being an anti-monarchist for supporting Pierre Trudeau's constitutional reforms.
The result was the closest in New Brunswick history: the governing PCs won 30 seats to 28 for the opposition. The popular vote was very close: 146,719 votes were cast for Conservative candidates, and 146,596 for Liberals. In order to secure a workable majority following the election, Hatfield appointed Liberal Robert McCready as speaker of the legislature, despite strong objections from McCready's Liberal colleagues; McCready went on to seek re-election as a Conservative and served in Hatfield's cabinet.
The Parti Acadien had its best ever showing in the election, winning 12% of the vote in the ridings where it fielded candidates, and coming within 200 votes of electing Armand Plourde in Restigouche West.
|1978 New Brunswick Election Results|
|Seats||% of votes cast|
|Progressive Conservative||Richard Hatfield||30||44.39%|
|Liberal||Joseph Z. Daigle||28||44.36%|
|New Democratic||John LaBossiere||0||6.48%|
|Parti Acadien||Jean-Pierre Lanteigne||0||3.5%|