New Brunswick

Blaine Higgs enters race for PC leadership

Quispamsis MLA Blaine Higgs has formally announced he wants to lead the provincial Progressive Conservatives.

Higgs casts himself as political outsider

Quispamsis MLA Blaine Higgs has formally announced he wants to lead the provincial Progressive Conservatives.

Blaine Higgs, leader of New Brunswick’s Progressive Conservative Party, said Brian Gallant's state of the province address was a “smoke and mirror process.” (CBC)
Higgs, the former finance minister in the David Alward government, presented himself as an outsider when it comes to politics.

"I'm running because I have the independence of thinking this province so desperately needs," said Higgs. "I did not grow up in the political family, I did not come from deep roots politically."

He spoke to a crowd of about 200, many wearing buttons with his name, who crammed into a meeting room at the Amsterdam Inn in Higgs' Quispamsis riding. 

Higgs claimed that had the Conservatives not lost the election the province would be in far better shape financially.

"Staying the course would have meant that this year I would have been projecting, as finance minister, a budget within $100 million of balancing, without the HST."

Higgs was introduced by former Fundy Royal MP Rob Moore who praised the former Irving Oil executive's private sector business background. 

Higgs announced his intention to seek the PC leadership before a crowd of 200 people in his Quispamsis riding.
Despite the turnout, PC caucus members from nearby Saint John were noticeably absent.

Former health minister Ted Flemming, from the adjacent riding of Rothesay did turn up, but is not ready to endorse his neighbour.

"I'm here because he invited me and we're friends and colleagues," said Flemming. "But I really think people are waiting to see who's going to enter the race."

I want to take my time- Sussex-Fundy-St Martins MLA Bruce Northrup

Fellow Kings County MLA Bruce Northrup, of Sussex-Fundy-St Martins, also steered away from an endorsement.

"I'm here to support Blaine today as a colleague and a close friend, but I'm going to wait to see who is all in the race first and then make my decision then," said Northrup. "I want to take my time."

The only other announced candidate is fellow caucus member Brian MacDonald, but Saint John Mayor Mel Norton and former Tobique Mactaquac MP Mike Allen are also considering a run at the job.