Premier Alward reacts to secret meeting policy

The CBC's Harry Forestell goes one-on-one in an interview with Premier David Alward to discuss cabinet shuffle, fracking, and closed door meetings.

CBC's Harry Forestell goes one-on-one in studio interview with Premier David Alward

Premier David Alward and his Conservative government are at the midway point of their mandate.

On Friday, Alward was interviewed by Harry Forestell at the CBC News studio in Fredericton. The premier has recently shuffled his cabinet, kicked out a backbencher from his caucus and is slowly making headway on the province's deficit.

"We have a lot more work we need to do," Alward said. "Quite frankly the momentum is really just building and just beginning. It's taken time to put new processes in place, to really help the members of the public service understand the changes that we want to bring."

Two years in as premier, Alward admits there have been some tough decisions to make regarding the province's finances. But he says those decisions are in the best interest of the province. 

Natural gas and fracking has been one of the most controversial topics for the Alward government. In a recent cabinet shuffle the Tory government decided to separate mining from the department of natural resources, moving it to the department of energy, and minister Craig Leonard.

"We certainly hope that there will be an opportunity to develop natural gas in New Brunswick," said Alward. "We can only do it if it's done in a responsible and safe way."

As part of his campaign two years ago, Alward said the Conservatives would be transparent and open with New Brunswickers, but Alward came under fire for turfing backbencher Jim Parrot. The former heart surgeon was kicked out of the Conservative caucus after criticizing the Alward government for not listening to doctors about health-care issues and duality in the health system.

Recent hearings on the Official Languages Act were held behind closed doors. Critics have grilled the Tories for their lack of transparency. 

"All I can say is this is the first time in New Brunswick's history that New Brunswickers have had the opportunity for input," said Alward. "Whether that be through surveys, whether that be appearing before a legislative committee to be able to provide their opinions, their views."