Blaine Higgs stays.
New Brunswick’s premier announced Friday that he will remain leader of the Progressive Conservative Party and seek another term in the upcoming provincial election.
There has been speculation for months about whether Higgs, who will turn 70 next March, would retire before the next election.
In February, at the annual state of the province address, he provoked the crowd by walking off stage to the Clash song. Should I stay or should I go?
The issue “has become increasingly relevant with the internal dissent our government has experienced over the past six months,” Higgs said Friday.
He responded to the question with a statement on social media.
“With the support of many colleagues and people across this province, I confirm my intention to remain as leader and re-run as a candidate in the next provincial election.”
Higgs cited the province’s economic and population growth during his tenure as premier and said it was important to “continue to build on this momentum.”
The next election is scheduled for October 21, 2024, although Higgs’ statement did not mention that date and did not rule out an earlier campaign.
The former Irving Oil top manager was first elected MLA in 2010.
He became leader of the PC party in 2016 and led the Conservatives to a narrow victory in the 2018 election, winning one seat over the Liberals to form a minority government with the support of the People’s Alliance.
He won a majority two years later based largely on his government’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic up to that point.
But its popularity took a hit the following year after a premature easing of public health restrictions and a subsequent rise in cases.
713 Policy Changes Sparked Caucus Revolt
Earlier this year, his decision to change parts of Policy 713, which was introduced in 2020 to ensure minimal support for LGBTQ students, was the catalyst for a caucus revolt.
Four ministers and two PC MLAs rebelled by voting in favor of a Liberal opposition motion calling on the children and young people’s ombudsman to scrutinize the changes, a call that led to a damning report from the ombudsman calling the new policy unconstitutional. .
Two ministers, Dorothy Shephard and Trevor Holder, resigned after the riot, saying their centralization of power in their office went against PC party values.
Higgs removed the other two ministers from the cabinet.
One of them, Jeff Carr, said he would not run in the next election if Higgs remained leader, and Shephard said he did not see how he could do so.
Bid for leadership review failed
The prime minister said at the time that the unrest could prompt him to stay.
“If we can’t get our own house in order so that we have a good transition process and continue the momentum of what the province is experiencing right now, then I can’t walk away from what we’ve accomplished to date,” he said.
Some rank-and-file PC members also attempted to provoke a leadership review vote to remove Higgs, but it failed after the party invalidated some of the letters submitted under party rules.
If Higgs wins a majority at the next election, he would be the first prime minister to win two consecutive majorities since Bernard Lord in 1999 and 2003.