Megan Mitton will be returning to the New Brunswick legislature with her two Green Party colleagues after being re-elected Monday night in Memramcook-Tantramar.
“I’m still feeling overwhelmed by all the support from everyone,” she declared in her online victory speech.
“Politics can be done differently. I’ve been working to do it differently the last two years and we’re going to continue to do it differently,” she added.
Mitton won 523 more votes than her nearest rival, Liberal Maxime Bourgeois and more than twice as many as Progressive Conservative candidate Carole Duguay.
During a telephone interview, Mitton acknowledged that she and her Green Party colleagues, David Coon and Kevin Arseneau, will no longer hold as much bargaining power after the Conservatives won 27 seats, a clear majority in the 49 seat legislature.
“It will be a bit of a different make up,” she said.
“One thing that is an advantage is that I’ve had the chance over the last couple of years to get to know some of the MLAs from the PC Party and some of the ministers and build relationships and be able to work with them across party lines,” she said.
“I’m really hoping to see the all-party cabinet committee that was addressing COVID meet as soon as possible so we can get back to the work of making sure that everyone gets through this pandemic, not just surviving, but living with dignity.”
Tense election day
During her victory speech, Mitton said she was proud that people had worked together on election day to protect each other’s right to vote.
She was referring to the dozens of Mount Allison students who were qualified to vote, but who faced hostile questioning and were warned by poll workers and a Liberal scrutineer that they would be committing voter fraud if they tried to cast a ballot.
Some students were turned away altogether. New Brunswick’s Chief Electoral Officer intervened to clarify the rules, but even after that some students were told they weren’t qualified to vote.
The Mount Allison Students Union (MASU) issued a notice to students advising those who were “wrongfully turned away” to return to the Civic Centre “and try to vote again.”
Sydney Thorburn, a Vice President at MASU who was helping with the get-out-the-vote campaign, told CHMA news that a Liberal scrutineer told her to tell students living in the Mount Allison residences to stop coming to the polls because they weren’t qualified to vote.
“My biggest concern is that students coming out telling me that they felt uncomfortable and that they felt unwelcome and they felt intimated by staff here, that they’re going to avoid elections in the future,” she said, adding that her goal was to educate students on the importance of voting to make their voices heard.
“I’m really worried that it’s going to discourage them from voting in the future,” Thorburn said.
For an-depth report on the problems Mt. A. students faced in trying to vote, click here.
I have never posted in this forum, but here goes. I am posting for myself (as disclaimer, I was co-campaign manager for Megan until last night). I spent five hours yesterday in front of the Civic Center once I heard what was going on. It was an absolutely appalling situation. I saw students continuously turned away, coming out without having been allowed to vote DESPITE there having been clear instructions by about 4 pm. There were hours of these problems. And yes, it was somewhat resolved by probably 6:30 (ish) pm when the number of students that were turned away dropped. I arrived sometime around 2:30. I left at 7:10. And still, at 1 min to 8 pm, an eligible student was turned away (I believe she/he went right back in to try a second time). Students were treated rudely. Students were accused of fraud. Despite the returning officer coming by and giving clear instructions that I heard, students continued to have problems. I have been told that at least 12, some say over 20 or 30 and more, were reported as having been turned away. There were more, as some were sent to the returning office to vote (they did not have to). Students yesterday fought for their right, and fought for each others’ rights. For many hours. This is simply not acceptable. We live in a democracy, where everybody has the legal right to vote. Yesterday, that right was taken away from some students. Why? Because of misinformation, because the snap election caused poll worker training to be too short and incomplete, because for whatever reason the ruling around students voting by The Chief Electoral Officer, never made it to Sackville (?), and because some people were so afraid of the “student vote”. Wow. As for what this was all about: students that go to MtA are considered residents of NB and of this riding. Period. That was established for the 2018 election. They still need proof of residence and ID. The 40-day residency immediately before election applies to first years (as to anybody new in this riding). The others (e.g., returning students) are considered the same way as our “snowbirds”, their residence is here in Sackville (or wherever they live during the school year), they go away for the summer months, and come back to school and their home here in Sackville. And this is absolutely correct! Students in Sackville are an important part of this community. They live here, eat, work, and contribute massively to this beautiful town. I felt the community come back to life when they returned after so many sad and quiet months here in Sackville. I am so proud of all the students who stood up. And shame on those that were part of voter suppression yesterday. And shame on those that treated students so badly, and rudely. And shame on the poll workers that treated campaign scrutineers (yes, also students) badly. And last, I would suggest to anybody that is thinking of replying rudely, or questioning what I am saying here, to think very carefully. What went on is likely illegal, but certainly very, very anti democratic, and against the directions given by Election NB in Fredericton. And you don’t want to be caught here on the other side. I have really had my fill of slanderous, false and misleading information during this election.
Hi Bruce, thanks for providing us with very prompt reporting on the outcome of the election in the Memramcook-Tantramar riding. Congratulations to Megan on her win and her continued effective representation of her constituents.
The issue of the Mt A students being turned away from the polling station is very concerning. Does anyone know if there will be an investigation into the cause of this situation, and why the poll workers were so misinformed about the ability of the students to vote at the polling station. Given the fact that Sackville is a university town, one would think that the poll workers would have been well briefed beforehand on the matter of students voting at the polling station. The big question is whether the students were turned away due to the ignorance of the poll workers regarding the legitimate right of the students to vote, or whether there was an intentional attempt to interfere with their voting privileges so as to sway the vote outcome.
Regardless of this issue, now that Higgs has a majority government, and considering McGrath’s statements in Bruce’s July 2 article in which she defends her original decision to shut down hospitals in rural areas of the province, it is time to start organizing anew in order to fight against new attempts to shut down our hospital, which are sure to come, regardless of whatever Higgs promised during the election. Keeping our local hospital operating (with acute care beds, 24 hour emergency department, day surgeries, and medical lab on site) is vital to maintaining the quality of life that current residents enjoy, and to attracting new residents, university students, and businesses to our community.