The New Brunswick Liberal party will elect a new leader this weekend.
A leadership convention in Fredericton will begin at 12 p.m. on Saturday, with voting scheduled to start at 2 p.m.
There are four contenders for the position. In alphabetical order:
Donald Arseneault was first elected to the New Brunswick legislature in 2003 as the opposition Liberal MLA for Dalhousie-Restigouche East. After the Liberal’s 2006 election victory, he become a cabinet minister under the Shawn Graham government, serving as minister of natural resources, and minister of post-secondary education, training, and labour.
Arseneault was re-elected in 2010, and returned to cabinet in 2014 under the Brian Gallant government as minister of energy and mines. He resigned as MLA in 2017 following his controversial decision to accept a second job with Canada’s Building Trades Union.
Arseneault says his political resume should serve as an advantage for rebuilding the party and governing.
“We need to rejuvenate our party,” says Arseneault. “We have to respect all those who’ve put so many years into our party and their experience is so valuable as we go toward the 2024 election. But I’ve surrounded myself many fresh faces.”
Robert Gauvin was first elected to the New Brunswick legislature in 2018 as the Progressive Conservative MLA for Shippagan-Lamèque-Miscou. As the only PC MLA elected in northern New Brunswick under the Blaine Higgs government, Gauvin immediately entered cabinet as deputy premier, minister responsible for la francophonie, and minister of tourism, heritage and culture.
Gauvin resigned from cabinet and the PC party in 2020 over disagreements with the government’s proposed health-care reforms.
Gauvin sat as an independent MLA until the 2020 provincial election when he won the riding of Shediac Bay-Dieppe under the Liberal banner.
Gauvin says he has a non-partisan approach to issues which has an appeal across party lines.
“I believe you have to always be in the moment,” said Gauvin. “Because the moment dictates what’s happening. I try to speak from the heart, this is the best way. Because when you speak from the heart you’re never wrong, you say how you feel and it connects with people.”
T.J. Harvey became the Liberal member of Parliament for Tobique-Mactaquac in 2015. While in Ottawa, Harvey sat on several parliamentary committees, including the committee on Indigenous and Northern Affairs. Harvey didn’t re-offer for a second term as MP for the 2019 election.
His private-sector background is in the field of agriculture, in addition to creating a family trucking company.
Harvey says his experience as a federal representative for the riding of Tobique-Mactaquac serves his provincial leadership bid well.
“It’s certainly a microcosm for what I believe truly identifies the province of New Brunswick,” says Harvey, citing the federal riding’s linguistic diversity.
“We’ve been concentrating on engaging three groups of people. Traditional Liberals that have stayed engaged within the party over the years, former Liberals that have left the party, or feel they haven’t been represented by the party, and trying to bring those people back in and reaching out to new people.”
Susan Holt served as the chief executive officer of the Fredericton Chamber of Commerce and the New Brunswick Business Council, before moving to the public sector as a senior economic development advisor with Brian Gallant’s Liberal government.
Holt ran as a Liberal candidate for the riding of Fredericton South in the 2018 provincial election, coming in second to Green Party leader David Coon.
Holt is the “chief growth officer” for two Fredericton-based I.T. companies, and is the first woman to run for leader of the New Brunswick Liberal party.
Holt says change is a key pillar of her candidacy, adding her campaign has brought in support from voters of all parties.
“Everyone is feeling really disconnected from the process of engaging in policy and decision making and government,” says Holt.
“Politics needs to change. We are facing a ton of challenges as a society and the hyper partisanship, the politics-as-usual that we’ve been practicing here for years, isn’t going to cut it.”
For the first time, the New Brunswick Liberal Party is using a ranked preferential balloting system to elect its leader.
Voters will rank their choice of preferred candidates from one to four.
If after the first round of voting a candidate doesn’t achieve a result of 50%+1, the candidate with the lowest number will be dropped. Voting from the ranked ballot will continue to be reallocated until a candidate achieves a majority and becomes the new leader.
The party says results will be announced in 15 minute intervals between each required round.
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