Saint John Harbour MLA mulls over budget vote, possible return to municipal politics

A Saint John Liberal MLA has a couple of big decisions to make soon, including one about his own political future.

Gerry Lowe, who represents Saint John Harbour, said he’s seriously considering a return to municipal politics.

He represented Ward 3 on Saint John Common Council for five years prior to winning a seat in the provincial legislature in 2018.

Lowe said he began contemplating a move back into local politics shortly after starting in Fredericton.

“It’s a different world,” he said. “It’s kind of like, just not me. I like, as a rule, to get something done, or at least go to the people to get things changed and try to do good.”

He believes it can be more difficult to have an impact on his community while working in Fredericton.

Lowe admitted to being worn down by the controversy surrounding his provincial election and subsequent court proceedings.

He defeated Conservative candidate Barry Ogden by only ten seats. Ogden alleged voter irregularities and asked for the election results to be thrown out. The matter ended up in court for several months before the results were eventually upheld last August.

Lowe said he respects the members of his own caucus and politicians of all political stripes in Fredericton, but added, “you just can’t get nothing done.”

“A lot of (MLAs), that’s going to be their job for years to come. It’s not going to be my job – no matter what – for years to come.”

Lowe raised a stir recently when he said he would consider voting in favour of the Conservative government’s new budget, to be presented Tuesday in the legislature.

Liberal Leader Kevin Vickers has said his party cannot support the budget after the province’s now-cancelled changes to various emergency departments around New Brunswick.

A potential vote for the budget from Lowe could save Premier Blaine Higgs’ minority government from being forced into calling a spring election.

Lowe said a key for his support of the budget is money for a new school in Saint John’s south end.

He said he will “vote my conscience.”

“I’m sure Mr. Higgs will put (money for a school) in the budget somewhere. Why wouldn’t he? There’s three million bucks left in that educational fund, right? Does that hook me? I’m not sure. Mr. Vickers, no doubt, has told me that he will build a school down here. Well, you know, do I trust him? Yes, I trust him. But if I can get one….I’m just not sure.”

“At the end of the day, Gerry will have to make a decision as to what is most likely the best scenario for him to proceed with,” Vickers told reporters in Fredericton. “I have confidence that he will stay and vote for us.”

Vickers would not speculate about any potential consequences for Lowe if he did not vote with the Liberal Party.

Lowe said he expects to take time ahead of the budget vote to determine the next steps in his political career.

Municipal elections in New Brunswick are scheduled for May 11. Candidates must be registered with Elections NB 31 days prior to election day.


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